July 7, 2010

chaotic peace

The other day, B strongly encouraged me to organize my pocketbook.  It seemed like such a silly thing at the time, but there it was, busting at the seams with reciepts and cash sticking out and no hope of ever closing.  He said - if you can get that thing to close right, maybe there is hope for you after all. And I did!  =) All I had to do was take the checkbook out, put the cash in the right spot, and tuck my recipets in the pocket where the extremely seldom used checkbook had been.

I think my husband would describe me as a person who thrives on chaos.  What he would mean by that is that I kind of let things go and forget about them and let everything hang out flapping about until a kind of critical point is reached.  And then I jump into this frenzy of action and wham bam boozle - somehow, things kind of work out.

"Kind of" is the operative part of the phrase there. 

It is true that for much of my life, that is how I have viewed the world.  I'll put something off until the absolute last possible moment.  I hate confronting conflict or unpleasant tasks.  I ignore things until I have to face them. And while I have, for the most part, been successful in this way of doing things, it is not my best.  And it doesn't work for everyone.

This last week, I preached on peace.  And as is sometimes the case as a pastor, I felt like I was preaching to myself.  Because peaceful is often the last thing that I feel in this chaotic way that I operate.  Peaceful is not the word to describe the way relationships sometimes turn out due to this way of operating.  Peaceful is not the word to describe the garden space on the south side of my house. Peaceful is not the proper adjective for newsletter creating, or bulletin producing, or sermon writing... at least not in my life.

As I spent some time wrestling with peace this week, I was reminded of the hebrew idea of shalom.  Shalom is more than peace - it is right relationship, right order, wholeness and harmony.  And not in some fuzzy, hippie, feel good sense.  You know how you look around and see that things are just out of whack?  when you can't figure out how to make things fit or you know in your gut that something is off... that is the lack of shalom.  And an article by Bruce Birch caught my attention when he wrote that the opposite of shalom is chaos.

You see, as much as I thrive on this chaos... as much as I am comfortable with the way that I operate... that doesn't mean it is good for me.  The peace that I obtain as I work this way, as I play this way, as I love this way is not full.  It is partial and it is grasping.  But to open myself up to right priorities... to find balance in my life... to seek out order and a proper time for things... to allow God to guide me... to let go of some things and delegate others... maybe that could bring shalom.  Maybe letting go of my comfortable chaos might help me to truly find the peace that passes all understanding.

How I end up finding this order in my life is a different question.  It's not enough to just pray about it.  I am firmly of the belief that prayer also requires action on our behalf.  I've already organized my pocketbook, so at least I'm starting somewhere.  I consolidated all of my google calendars so that all of my appointments show up at the same time on my blackberry.  But just ready to come to the surface is the realization that the way I do church has to radically change.  I need to hand some things off.  I need to let go and find people to take over a few things that may have been the pastor's job in the past... like doing the newsletter... so that I can be freed up to do the things I am called to do. As much as I enjoy them.  As much as I am comfortable doing them.  They create chaos as I try to stuff everything in and clasp the darn thing shut. And letting it go might be the answer I'm looking for.


  1. Wow... that's just like me. I feel like I wrote this. But I didn't. I'm inspired now, off to make everything peace.