Good Chaos ~ BitterSweetLife

Monday, September 13, 2010

Good Chaos

With three boys aged four, two, and 10 months, our home is your basic wildlife sanctuary. The same goes for Crossroads Church, about a year old, and our informal services in the Arts Incubator (started November 2009).

Last Sunday, Kansas City was drenched by thunderstorms, and during our morning service we unplugged our floor lamps and used buckets to catch the spray from the leaky ceiling and window frames. When the heat index rises above 90, we bring in multiple tornado fans to simulate tropical breezes. When there's a band rehearsing on the floor above us or someone operating a table saw in the ground floor workshop, we crack jokes and turn our mics up. Off the cuff. It's how we roll. A little chaos never hurt anyone.

Like I said, Lindsay and I have three boys, Aidan, Asher and Ezra. All three are intense, high-energy, and double as midget clowns. In addition, our place is almost 100 years old and requires a lot of TLC and outright remodeling, much of which Google and I are tackling together. So preferences aside, the reality is that our home is part circus, part construction zone, part trauma ward. All this is so fascinating that we invite people over all the time to enjoy the show.

All of which raises the question: When craziness is a regular life rhythm, how do you make it a dance step? How do you make it the way you roll, and learn flexibility, as opposed to becoming an insomniac and getting a bad nervous twitch?

Well, number one, you look for furniture that could withstand small arms fire.

Number two, you place a premium on spontaneity. "Stay loose" becomes more than a sports mantra. Creativity is huge, because the first plan is rarely the final word.

Having things just right becomes a good punch line. You get used to dramatic mistakes, multiple vehicle smash-ups (with Tonka trucks), and leaks that you might have been able to fix without smashing a hole in the wall. You learn not to take yourself so freaking seriously, because the illusion of control, which is always fragile, frequently gets fried like an old circuit.

My best answer for developing an aesthetic of chaos? Humility. Laughing at myself often, repenting more frequently than I have, shrugging when plans boomerang away. It's OK, they were just good ideas.

But I'm not just trusting the Universe, here. Pro bono joy is not the vibe of our politics, culture, economy, local repairmen (trust me on that one). I'm definitely not in control, and I'm amenable to this because someone more qualified is in control.

Paul, one of Jesus' earliest and toughest followers, describes, "the immeasurable greatness of [God's] power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come" (Ephesians 1:19-21).

The kicker is that Paul writes this letter under arrest, chained to a Roman soldier, awaiting a rigged trial that will result in his execution. Paul writes about Jesus' invincible power, stronger than death, on his way to death row for following this very Jesus.

Not quite what you'd expect. Apparently chaos is best countered with an equally unexpected bravado. Appearances are misleading. When life is a tornado, it turns out that God uses tornadoes. That tornado never had a chance. We listen to guys like Paul, a man like Jesus, who was something more than a man, and it turns out that God isn't beyond making death his pawn.

In light of this, a baby church, a three-story, 100-year-old brick house, and three kids who practice mixed martial arts on each other are manageable. Humility makes sense when God has a startling plan for bedlam. I'll keep trying to laugh, and hang loose, and not take myself so freaking seriously. If I smash a hole in this wall, maybe we'll remodel the bathroom sooner. If I can't sleep, maybe I'll get some writing done.

Jesus can make even chaos good.

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jami jensen said...

this is a great post.
adventure and creativity are always available if we seek them, even in seemingly mundane situations and among chaos. glad to hear you embrace it.

R. Sherman said...

Just when I think you've abandoned "Blogland," you reappear. Don't be such a stranger.


Ariel said...

Thanks, guys.

I think living well means thriving in chaos and even enjoying it.

And yes, I need to blog's on my list!


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife