I like things neat and in their place. You will rarely find my office messy. My desktop will have piles on it but not chaos of papers tumbling over. When I leave for the day, the surfaces of my office will be neat and clean.
I like things like that. My house too. I like to walk into a house that says, “Welcome! Sit down and rest after your crazy day.” Not, “You have work to do. The bed is not made. The dishes are piled up. There’s no place to sit down. No place to look that isn’t chaos.”
I like order.
. . . . . . .
When a bunch of people (more than one) are coming to my house, I keep an eye out for chaos trying to break out. The coat, purse, toy, placed where those things don’t go. I put them where they do go. It takes me a bit of time to relax and let this need of mine subside. It eventually does get better. The stress that wells up inside of me when someone comes in the front door and throws their purse on the floor in the living room so they can get to the conversations happening in the kitchen (note: not where a purse should be and if everyone is going to do that what will happen? Chaos that’s what.), gives way to, “Oh well!” I relax and it doesn’t matter. The time it takes me to get from stress to relax is much shorter now than in earlier years. As a matter of fact, there have even been chaos-potential moments lately when I started in the relax phase.
Over time I have come to realize my dis-order. I can’t see me as a person who ever embraces the chaos, but I have gotten more comfortable with it. As I age, I realize that chaos is just part of human life. Life rarely stays in nice neat piles labelled and organized. Life often cascades over onto the desktop.
Besides, if I believe the things Jesus taught and am attempting to live like he lived, people are more important than anything else. Jesus made clear that people were more important than even the law and rules that keep things in their place.
Jesus moved stuff out of their neat piles all the time. A woman caught in adultery? Stone her. Jesus: You throw the first stone if you have no sin.
Healing on the sabbath? Lawbreaker!
Jesus: Man was made for the Sabbath (whatever that means, really! But it was clearly not what the Law-keepers thought it was.) What is clear is Jesus was saying the sick person’s need was greater than the rules.
Community is messy. When we try to be authentic Christian community made up of all kinds of parts of the Body, we just don’t know what to do with each other. Some people are wiping the counter clean to keep order. Others are talking and laughing and spilling coffee all over the neat paper piles. Our attempts at maneuvering all of the underlying stuff of our lives too often keep us from being authentic with one another. Oh, what if we were though!? Think of it.
What if we were honest and then said, “I love you, even if I don’t get you.” What could that look like.
I am certain that people looking for authentic faith community are looking for a place to be real. I’m not sure they believe us Church folks when we say, “Come as you are. We love you anyway.” Like me, we may give off signals that their purse isn’t welcome in my living room.
People are more important.
Grandkids help me a lot with this malady. It still took some years to figure out that I can spend my time keeping things neat or I can spend time making connections with them. I’m not all in the “what the heck” camp, but, I have made huge progress. The people in my life are more important than keeping chaos at bay.
Now, when you come in the front door, I might say, “Great to see you. Oh, just put your purse on the floor in the living room.”
I John 4: 7-12 reminds us:
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that God loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and God’s love is perfected in us.”
United Methodist Bishop Karen Oliveto asked this question in response to that scripture: There is within each of us a wellspring of love, whose source is God. How can we, as the Body of Christ, help one another release this love that dwells in each of us?
Even within me, there is a wellspring of love ready to flow out and get all over the papers on my desk, my clean counter, and the floor.
Thanks be to God.