January 23, 2010

Risk, Chaos, Mess...the stuff of real life!

Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest. Proverbs 14:4

People make a mess. Children make a mess. Houses with people and a lot of children make big messes. You can't have children around and have things clean, in order and in good repair for very long. While the words "disorder" or "mess" seem undesireable, within anything of beauty there remains an element of chaos (think nature). I'm learning (with difficulty) that when I look at a dirty kitchen or a messy garage, I'm looking at lives being lived, in all it's chaos with people I love.

I help run a lot of businesses that are highly dependent on people. If I couldn't accept a lot of ambiguity and chaos at times, I would soon be crushed by the weight of it all. Despite best efforts to train, manage and create systems, things just do not run the way you want them to a lot of the time. People aren't robots and they don't run computer programs in their brains, they are innately unpredictable, make mistakes or judge wrong. Equipment breaks, machines need service, the second law of thermodynamics is always at play, things are running down.

The same goes for families, home and relationships they are by nature chaotic. Unless we allow for unpredictability, disorder, chaos and mess in our lives our perfectionist tendencies create lids over us that ultimately create limitations. It's classic in business. A guy starts a business and while it's small and controllable his life is good, but as soon as it starts to grow he hits a wall, he can't handle the chaos it creates around him. Sometimes this is created by him because he hasn't grown his skills with the enterprise, often however it's simply the fact that the more people he involves in it the more complicated (risky, chaotic, messy) that business becomes....and that can be scary.

The above scripture gives a great word picture that while oxen make a smelly, stinky mess, without the animal the farmer has no strength to till his fields, provide for his family, build wealth; this large messy creature adds value to him, actually an accelerator towards his goal. If the farmer couldn't handle the mess of the oxen, it's care and feeding, it's smelly refuse, he'd be tilling his own fields himself suffering with a fraction of the output and productivity of other farmers with oxen. Without our children (read biological and spiritual), we create little generational value in the world, we don't grow as deeply as people. Without children there is little inner vision to live nobly, generational or holy. Without children, there is little down-payment on the future. Without children and the unpredictability, chaos and mess they create, you don't become who God intended. To enjoy a life that creates value (I'm not talking money and assets), we should embrace the messy stuff of life - children, people and relationships that over the long haul reap us a harvest of an abundant and value-adding life.

Phil Vassar get's it. Life with the people you love is messy, but still beautiful all the same. Enjoy the truth of his song.

1 comment:

  1. My Mother in law always said, Cleaning the house while kids are growing is like shoveling snow when its still snowing! I loved that, because the investment is in the children not in the "tidiness" of life... Love it!


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