Thursday, August 20, 2015

Chaos isn't always bad

Honestly stop for just a moment - just get quiet and focus with me for just a second or two.  What were you just worrying about - that thing you just kept mulling over and over in your mind?  To worry means you pass over something with repeated focus, almost as though you were wearing a "rut" into it just by the frequency of thought or attention you are giving it.  In some respects, worry is understandable and kind of productive.  When you just cannot figure out the solution to the puzzle before you, you kind of "worry" on the solution because you know it is there - you just have to recognize it.  In thinking it through, you either pick up the right piece and place it correctly, or you find the five letter word which fits the letter combo perfectly.  What that form of "worrying" produced was a solution which was possible because of something you already possessed - you just needed to recall that information or notice the solution was right there before you.  Most of the "worrying" we do is of a different sort, though.  It is the type of worry where we "borrow" from tomorrow's sets of issues and bring them in today's focus.  In other words, we compound today's issues with tomorrow's "what-if" scenarios.  What if it rains?  What if we don't get as much in our paycheck as we hoped for?  What if the person I like doesn't like me?  What if I don't get the job?  What if my possessions aren't enough to sustain me when I am lonely, depressed, anxious, or just plain in need of entertainment?  There are lots and lots of worries, but most of them are just not really intended to be our focus in life.  These are the ones we need to learn to sort out and leave where they belong - in the past or the future!

Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ That’s what those people who don’t know God are always thinking about. Don’t worry, because your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. What you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what he wants you to do. Then he will give you all these other things you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Tomorrow will have its own worries. (Matthew 6:32-34 ERV)

Do you ever have a "clothing crisis" kind of day?  Those moments when you look at the closet, pull out this top, that pair of pants, then another and another, feeling like all is futile because nothing "looks good" for either the particular events of the day, or because you feel "frumpy"?  I think we have all experienced one or two of those in our lifetimes, but how silly is it for us to spend so much time worrying over the "right" outfit?  I remember having a date once in which I was trying to "re-enter" the dating scene after my divorce. What a fiasco that wardrobe moment was!  I was well into my thirties and I was acting like a teenager - all nervous, kind of anxious about what outfit to wear - would I be too this or that if I wore this one or that one.  There were clothes scattered all over my bed!  I hadn't had one of those moments in so long it made me sit down and just laugh at myself when I was finally dressed and realized the mess I now had to clean up!  I did all that for one date - it never went any further because we didn't find ourselves all that compatible.  One date and so much anxiety, frustration, and worry!  

I wonder how many of us multiply our frustrations and fears in life because we just create chaos with all our "frequent changes"?  We cannot settle on this or that, constantly being drawn to the next "thing" we believe will fill some open space in our heart, create a sense of peace in a tumultuous time, or give us some satisfaction when we are just craving something a little bit beyond our reach. The pressures mount and we find ourselves adding to today's worries by "borrowing" some from tomorrow, or "recalling" some from yesterday.  We are actually "multiplying" our frustration and anxiety - creating an increasing sense of emotional chaos within our minds until we find ourselves about to declare ourselves on "overload".  You won't find me ever denying change as either inevitable or good.  In fact, I believe change is kind of a refreshing thing as long as we can let go of what belongs in the past, stop focusing so much on what lays ahead in the future, and focus on getting today right.

If we read our passage carefully, we will soon notice something we kind of "skip over" because we don't think it really is important or we simply didn't notice it at first.  Jesus says this type of "worrying" or "creation of emotional chaos" in our lives because of the frequency or consistency of change which is occurring is what those who don't know him engage in - it isn't to be the "mode of operation" for those of us who are all a part of his family.  When our focus is centered correctly on "who" gets us through the present change rather than the change itself, we find this perspective keeps the "chaos" at bay and our intentional actions to navigate through the changes we are facing become quite ordered, productive, and on-target.  It isn't always ours to control the change, nor is it to be the change which controls us.  We are to bring the change to God, allow him to set the course, then settle into the course he has us on.  In the end, we find as long as we remain set on observing his "navigational instruction" in our lives, we don't have the chaos in the midst of change.  We might have a little "turmoil" because change suggests the old is being purged and the new is coming into focus, but this is a good kind of turmoil.

What gets our clothes clean in the washing machine?  Isn't it the turmoil of tumbling over each other and the friction caused by the changing of cycles within that machine?  Without this action, the resulting effect of "being in the washer" would be of no value - clean and ready clothes are a result of the action and the "agents" within the washer.  Water, soap, and the action of the spinning or agitating tub are essential.  So, not all types of turmoil are bad - sometimes they help create the "friction" we need to get us to a new level of "cleanness" or "readiness" in life.  The turmoil is "helped along" to do the work it needs to do when God adds in a little of his living water and a lot of his cleansing power! Just sayin!

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