“Embrace the Chaos”

Lowell used to tell visitors to “Embrace the Chaos” when we lived in India. Anyone who’s ever been to India can quite quickly agree that there’s always so much going on! Just stand on a street corner in Old Delhi and try to identify all that you see and smell and hear and you’ll be hard pressed to not admit that it feels a little chaotic, a little out of control!

I guess this week I’m feeling some of that sort of chaos…but of course we’re still far from India!

When my dad comes to town we find projects for him to do. He loves to stay busy and we love to have the work done. Dad can do anything really. He works with wood, electricity, plumbing, tinkering, motors, moving parts, engines, paint! You name it, my dad can do it!

This visit we thought he and Lowell would build us a deck. The back porch has been precarious since the day we moved in. The plan was to knock it down and build a new porch with an attached deck. Being good citizens meant applying for a permit. There was some confusion about the placement of the posts and the size of the porch. The permit people took some time in approving our plan.

Meanwhile dad destroyed, at my request, our ancient box style closet in our bedroom. Our bedroom is small and it seemed to me that we should knock out the closet and put up one of those more streamlined, tidy looking, “easy to install” closet kits you see all the time on TV. But then the permit for the porch arrived. All work on the closet came to a screeching halt.

All of our closet stuff was in our son’s room. Our son was all over the living room floor. Mom and dad stayed in our room. We slept in Adelaide’s room. Adelaide slept in with Bronwynn. And we still have a guest who’s staying in Lowell’s office.

Nothing was where it should be.

Lowell went out to borrow his dad’s truck so he could load up the lumber they’d need. On the way home he discovered he had forgotten his phone. On the second attempt back toward home the old truck blew a tire. His dad had neglected to throw in the spare.

This week we’ve also had dance rehearsals and recitals. Adelaide auditioned for a specialty dance company earlier in the week as well but yesterday I got a phone call from the dance school that Adelaide hadn’t made the dance company she had auditioned for. I knew I’d have to break that news to her later in the day.

To top it all off I was scheduled to speak at a live webinar with a friend on expectations and burn out. I discovered that our headset was broken. My computer is still dead (did I mention the hard drive expired while I was away?). Thankfully I could use Connor’s new machine but it has a new fandangled version of windows on it and it seemingly does random things at odd moments. After getting kids out the door, painting two walls in our bedroom (because since the closet is down it would make sense to paint now!), and settling everyone else, I zipped over to Best Buy to purchase a new headset. With a new headset in hand, Connor’s machine, my notes, I drove through the drive through for a sandwich (I forgot to eat!) and raced to the church in search of some quiet. I couldn’t figure out how to navigate the internet but one of the pastors quickly helped me sort it out.

It was a day!

It was chaos!

And if we’d been in India Lowell would have said to embrace it!

When I was preparing to speak on the spiritual habits of Silence and Solitude for the retreat I was just at (the irony is not lost on me!) I happened upon these verses in the gospel of Mark,

“That evening after supper, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And he healed many who were ill; and cast out many demons…and in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place and was praying there”.

Talk about chaos: “And the whole city had gathered at the door!” That’s how I felt yesterday. The whole town was banging on the door of my sanity–paint buckets and stacks of stuff, daughters and dance rejections, the truck and the tires, piles of wood, piles of clothes, piles of people, electric drills and saws and hammers, broken headsets and dead computers. Mom can you take a look at this new game? Robynn can you run to the store and get? Where do you want me to put this? Mom I need you to remind me. All of it banging at the door.

How did Jesus respond? He had already had a full day….his chaos continued on into the evening, after supper, in to the night. Jesus responded to each person. He healed and ministered to the hurting, the sick, the confused, to the oppressed. He brought freedom and peace. But in the morning, knowing his own soul and his own needs, he woke early and went off on his own to pray.

When I arrived at the church, my phone buzzed with an incoming email. I paused and took the time to read it. A friend had emailed me the prayer she had prayed for me. The words for peace and rest and restoration, in the midst of the crazy, washed over me. I sat in the car alone and breathed. I shed a few tears. I let those wash over me too. There was a moment to stop and I did. I sat quietly and prayed out my own heart’s prayer: for endurance, for joy, for the capacity to embrace it all!

I survived yesterday’s chaos. Today will have its own share, I’m sure. When it’s all gathered at the door, I hope, I’ll remember to pause, breathe, pray. I think that’s the way we embrace it.

A text message I got yesterday from a friend read, “Just lean into chaos and find shalom”. That’s what happened when I sat in the car. I found a small piece of shalom.

8 thoughts on ““Embrace the Chaos”

  1. And for some, like myself, chaos seems the norm and it feels easier to cope with and walk through than the slow of life. The void and the absence of activity gnaw at my soul and weigh down my mind. I sometimes feel like I’m wading through molasses in January up near Alaska. But I’m not in Alaska. I’m in North Central Kansas, farming. Removed from my brain rattling chaos, a NEW chaos settles in – one just as hard to cope with and pray through. One deeper and more ‘seeping’ than the loudness from before.

    No matter the ‘chaos’ in our lives, Jesus has already paid for the housekeeper to come in a tidy it up. Praise God for his willingness to see each of our days before we even come to be…and still be waiting to done the apron and clean the messes of our lives.

    Your post is timely and a blessing. Thank you, Friend.

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    1. Oh AJ! I just saw this now…. over a week later… I LOVE how you said it, “Jesus has already paid for the housekeeper to come in and tidy it up…!” I miss you! Thanks for leaving this comment. It blessed me!

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  2. In some places chaos reigns and is the normal. Blessed is he/she who learns to, as you have written, “embrace the chaos.” I tend to be an orderly freak and I’m still trying to learn to adjust when chaos exists. “BLESS THIS MESS” is a helpful prayer.

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    1. “Learning to adjust when chaos exists”….I like this! Maybe when I’m all grown up I’ll have learnt that too! Meanwhile I’ll pray the same prayer you pray, “Bless this Mess!”

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  3. Wonderful! A dear friend says “Life happens!” And Jesus is always there when life is happening. Thank you for the reminder

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  4. I’m amazed to be the first one to comment on this! It’s beautiful piece, Robynn. Thank you. At my stage in life, I don’t have quite the same chaos. That was way back when! But I find that much smaller things have the potential to upset my peace. So I still have the need for God’s gift of Shalom. My greetings and love to your parents if they are still there.

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    1. Thank you Auntie Polly! Some days it doesn’t take much to upset my peace either…and I’m only in my forties. Oh dear! My mom was pleased to receive your greetings and sends you hers as well. Thank you for your kind comments.

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