Tuesday, November 29, 2011
State of Chaos
Have you ever seen the State farm ad, State of Chaos? Poor, poor, Dwayne, while most of his neighborhood is fleeing from an out of control robot monster taking over the street, a couple well meaning, but seriously over chatty neighbors are commentating on the destruction of Dwayne’s life as everything he owns is torn apart. We have all lived through times like this and quite honestly felt as if we served as the commentary for those who have nothing better to do than chat about how our lives are falling apart. Life is harsh and can be unpredictable. No mater how hard we try, plan or even push ourselves, everything we thought was meant to be in our lives can crumble, leaving us with the pieces.
Have you ever felt as if life was coming at you from every side? Seriously, you know those kinds of days, maybe even weeks, when everything that CAN, WILL come against you? Lights go out because you forgot to pay the bill, you swallowed a swig of sour milk with your stale donut, stubbed your toe into the bed post or your computer crashed right before you hit “save”. We have all had those kinds of days. No one is immune. Sometimes life goes sideways. Actually it may even turn upside down at the same time. What once made sense to you is now a bunch of mumbled nonsense. The best part of it all, well that’s finding out there’s no interpreter on sight to explain what has happened in the last 3o seconds. Life is a big experiment, sometimes we add the right combination of elements and sometimes we cross the absolutely best parts of ourselves with the worst of situations. So how do we handle being sideways and upside down at the same time? Well, it’s a bit tricky but it can be done.
The one thing I have learned in my life, from growing up with diabetes, to living through breast cancer, is this: life is not easy. You can invest your time, your heart and your family into a life long mortgage and still lose it all, have it pulled right out from under your feet, emotionally, spiritually and physically. But what I also know is sometimes we have to lose it all to find ourselves. I have learned this lesson many times in my life thinking I was investing in the right people, the perfect idea, or even in a fool proof plan yet time and time again I end up sideways looking at myself through some odd shaped carnival mirror realizing I have been painted as a clown.
Now for many of us this is not where we want to be, part of a circus, playing the role of the clown, being laughed at by spectators. True it’s not the ideal job description is it? Let’s face it being the ring master or one of the lead acts seems like prime time, far better to be walking that tight rope, receiving applause than painting your face and having people laugh at you on a daily basis. Who wants to feel alone and undiscovered? Yet, there is one truth I know is absolute, learning to laugh at yourself, to put yourself last, being part of the bigger picture, and not the center of it is a big part of becoming selfless and putting yourself on the track to bigger and yes better opportunities. Once you can step back and accept where you are standing, sitting, heck even twisted up like a pretzel stuffed into a box for the time being, you can begin navigating a way through the craziness. Lets face it life is a 3 ring circus anyway you look at it. Some days we are the spectators, others we are part of the act, maybe even the road crew. We may not always get the chance to play the part we want, or snag the seat we thought we could but either way we are all part of the show in some way or another. What it comes down to is how are you personally going to adapt to the circumstances you have been ushered into sideways, upside down or right side up?
Like Dwayne, our lives can seem out of control. We can feel like everything we own has been destroyed, everyone we keep close has gone missing and every plan we have ever made has been torn to shreds’. But the truth is this: sometimes we need to start over, begin again, start from scratch and allow God’s hand to navigate each of one of us through the chaos surrounding our lives. Living for ourselves is easy, but surrendering our own suffering to the hands of another is not so easy. Being in charge seems simpler than allowing a guide we want nothing to do with to show us the back roads, to help us find our way, especially when it means acknowledging our way is not working.
The weight of our problems are not big enough to slip through His hands, we just need to reach out and take His direction and He will catch us, all our fears, insecurities and all. The one lesson I have been taught over and over again is this: if God can put the stars in the sky, if He can count every hair on my head, then my state of chaos is certainly not too big for God to mend. Sure I may not be able to see every plan God has for me. I am so far from perfect, full of dents, dings and the Lord knows scars, but all the pieces pulled together paint a completely different picture than the one I thought was being painted on my torn canvas.
Seriously how are we going to change the world if we can’t change ourselves friends? We can’t give up, but we can take a new path, find gratefulness in the journey, no matter how rough it can be. No one wants a front seat to pain, to sorrow and to unfulfilled dreams yet sometimes we have to sit through the first act, filled with agony, maybe even bad acting to be able to experience the joy and happiness of the second act in our lives. There’s always another story, another side to the coin, another way to see the circumstances. It’s all a choice friends; it’s all in how you see the story end, not how it begins. Things happen in our lives that keep us from reaching our goals, but God never stops us from reaching His goals! When we can’t see through the door in front of us, when the curtain won’t come down, or even go up, when we feel let down..again, when the cancer comes, when the job goes, when the day just can’t get any worse… our HOPE survives, endures and breathes life back into the desperate canvas we see in front of us. How can I say this? Well, while the commentary in the background may be keeping count of our failures, the forgiveness of grace does not. Life is put in motion from the moment we take our first breath, yet life does not truly begin until we learn to let go, to accept our failures, embrace the ups with the downs and find grace where we stand… sideways, upside down or standing straight up. No matter where the day leads you, into a state of chaos or part of three ring circus, remember friend, you are right where you need to be today. So I have to ask you, which path are you going to choose… the one worn and tried or the path less traveled waiting just ahead?