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Published December 2023
By Melanie Stevenson

For years I’ve bemoaned my propensity to be imperfectly tidy. I admire organized living environments, but being a recovering perfectionist, I’ve never quite managed the feat. I should have. I grew up in an impeccable home. The glass tables dusted daily with everything in its place, my parent’s home looked like a showroom on any given day! I blame it on my artistic side that dominates most of my endeavors. I’d rather write a novel, paint an oversize canvas, or plant untold numbers of flowers before applying the Marie Kondo Method to a closet or dragging a vacuum around a room. At this time of the year, I dig deep into my miniscule clean gene. There is necessary tidying to be done after the tree has been dragged in from the field, the cookies have been baked, and the guests have been greeted. I prefer everything to be perfect and work hard to ensure it comes as close as possible, even if tidying isn’t my natural predisposition.

I think about the birth of Jesus. If I gaze at the serene nativity on our side table, I’m tempted to see tidy. But the whole thing was messy and imperfect. No planned pregnancy, no elaborate travel itinerary to Bethlehem, no opulent hotel reservations, not even a sanitary spot to deliver a baby.

The God of the universe could have made the whole thing visually and palatially perfect, but it comforts me that he didn’t. It comforts me that instead there were diverted plans, simultaneous struggles, and confusion. It comforts me because that looks an awful lot like my life. Then I think, maybe the birth of Jesus was perfect. Maybe I’m looking at it all wrong because there is no accidental anything when it comes to God. Perhaps his idea of perfect isn’t even close to mine. And maybe God uses messy to accomplish marvelous. And that’s somehow comforting, isn’t it?

With that, I grow content with my less-than-perfect organizational skills, my imperfectly attained goals, and my derailed dreams. I can rest in knowing that not only did God not mistakenly give me a dialed-back clean gene, but that he also uses imperfection, mislaid hope, and uncharted territory to encourage me to rely on his guidance, instill beauty and holiness, and bring about his purposes.

This advent season, are there areas of your life that look a little messy, or seem to be unraveling? Look to the manger. Think of Jesus and remember that from conception to crucifixion, Jesus—the king of the universe—endured the messiness, waded through the mire, and punctured our hopelessness to find and rescue us. This Christmas, may we find peace amid imperfect, but even more, may we find Jesus.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
~ Isaiah 9:6

Award-winning author Melanie Stevenson
Born in England, Melanie has never lost her love of British tea and gardens. Her family immigrated to Canada when she was five years old and settled in southern Ontario. Years later, she entered the University of Waterloo as an English major and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Growing up, Melanie was passionate about reading, writing, and drawing. She wrote her first novel at age twelve. Since becoming a Christian at age eighteen, she has filled countless journal pages with prayers which became the inspiration behind her devotionals.

One More Tomorrow (September 2019) is Melanie’s debut novel (the first line of which was conceived in an airport terminal) and won Best Romance at the 2020 Word Guild Awards. Her second book, Soul Focus – Trials (November 2019), is a selection of devotionals written over a span of ten years. Melanie was the winner of Best New Canadian Author at the 2020 Word Guild Awards, and received runner up for Best New Manuscript at the 2021 Word Guild Awards.

Passionate about the arts, Melanie is also an abstract painter who specializes in acrylic and oil. For over twenty-five years, she has been involved in theatre and has written and directed numerous stage plays. She continues to teach acting classes to young people and adults.

She and her husband, Ralph, are parents of four amazing humans: Kurtis, Konnor, Elanna, and Keira. For eighteen years, Melanie homeschooled and passed on her love of the arts to her children.

Melanie is passionate about telling others of the healing love of Jesus, and championing others in their faith journey through both the written and spoken word.