Richard Foster said, "Even when all we see are the tangled threads on the backside of life's tapestry, we know that God is good and is out to do us good always."

There are times when someone will come to me and say, "I've really messed up." Then, a lengthy explanation of what that means unfolds.

I have heard admissions of breaking the law, infidelity, abuse. There is a very long list. I have listened to persons' frustrations with an unruly child, a wayward spouse, a tedious job or a lack of direction in life. I have also heard stories of great joy, of celebration, of overwhelming pride in something well done.

Life is never completely a smooth ride. There are all sorts of experiences tangled together. The ups and downs, the ins and outs are experiences of life.

Yes, sometimes things in our lives look like a huge tangled mess. We have hurts from our past, joys we have experienced, confusions that loom, reasons to celebrate.

Nearly everyone will "mess up" at one point or another.

Nearly everyone will experience the wonderful joys in life.

To look at each experience individually or in small clusters might cause you to think, "My life is a mess," but I encourage you to take a step back and look at the whole of your life to this point. Every experience you have gone through, positive or negative, has helped shape who you are today.

If all you notice are the trying and difficult times, you may have a dour attitude toward life. If all you look at are the happy times, you may have a "pie in the sky" attitude toward life. Both extremes are rather unhealthy.

But when you pay attention to all the experiences in your life as a whole, you will come to appreciate how all of them helped shape who you are right now.

What you thought was a tangled mess is actually a beautiful tapestry. Each event in life — positive or negative — has added its influence, its lesson, its perspective. How you focus on events will determine if you are a bitter or grateful person.

The trick is to step back, look at the whole picture, and give thanks to God for all you have become.

Then, as 2 Peter Chapter 1, verse 5 states, "Your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better."

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.