I am a homebody. I like to be in my home, surrounded by the creature comforts of my life. I think many us could easily say that to be home is to be comfortable and safe. I crave that feeling of safety and predictability. It brings me peace to know that, while the routine might vary a little from day-to-day, I can basically tell you how each day might go.
And so it is with other parts of life. I like to know that I’m not going to have everything come crashing down all at once. Sure, I take risks, but they are usually calculated, well discerned risks. I like life to be predictable, not messy, and if possible, wrapped up in a pretty box with a nice bow on top.
You are all probably rolling around on the floor laughing at this exact moment. You’re thinking to yourself “is this lady mad? Life’s not that easy!” And my answer to you would be, that I am keenly aware of this fact.
The truth of the matter is, life is messy. Life does not come prepackaged with a nice neat bow on top. I imagine that life is probably more like an Ikea desk, before it gets assembled. It comes in a big brown box with the name of the piece of furniture typed in bold black letters on the side. When you open up the box the directions fall out and on the top its says, “Some assembly required.”
Isn’t that maddening? Some assembly required. There are nuts and bolts and pieces of wood that don’t seem to belong anywhere in particular and it all becomes overwhelming and you’re trying to do it all on your own and things aren’t staying together right! And then you stop and you see those directions out of the corner of your eye. You take a deep breath, and you begin again. This time you go slow. You read each direction carefully and in a moment of feeling triumphant, you hurry on ahead without any help. When you get lost, as you almost inevitably will in this scenario, you have to circle back and consult your guide once again. And it goes on.
This may be a trite comparison to life and one’s relationship to God, but I think it could be meaningful. We hurry, we rush, we hustle and bustle, we get overwhelmed, and sad and disappointed, and things get stirred up within us. But then something makes us stop and we look up and we see that we have a God that is good and always in control. We realize that we have the richness of tradition and scripture to light our way, and that we possess an ever vibrant community of faith that can hold us up in times of struggle.
To be perfectly honest, I’m not generally one to dive right into scripture when I feel the chaos of the world around me. I usually turn toward music or Hearts on Fire, the Jesuit prayer book. Recently, however, John 11:33 has been showing up in my life a lot. This moment in scripture takes place after the death of Lazarus. We see Jesus meeting with Mary who is visibly upset after the death of her beloved brother. It says, “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.”
Woah. This is big. Jesus, who knew that he would be raising Lazarus from the dead in just a few moments time, was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. This shows us that Jesus truly felt the full range of human emotion, the full weight of Lazarus’ death. I’d like to think that Jesus even felt like he was getting lost in the chaos of life and of all that was going on in this moment. In short, Jesus felt all the feels.
This is a really great anchor for me to have. Perhaps it will help you as well. When I have that chaotic, jumbled up feeling of having to put all the things together on my own, it helps to know that God not only, cares deeply about what’s going on, but also knows exactly how it feels. God has felt the joy, sadness, pain, laughter, anger, and ecstasy of life. And that, above all else, brings me peace.