I know it’s not Christmas, but bear with me here. There is a scene, well maybe it’s a large portion, in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” where George Bailey is walking around overwhelmed. Actually maybe overwhelmed is an understatement. He went legit mental. It’s not the happy moment in the movie, but it does seem to be a catalyst for change. George aimlessly wanders around his home and it seems that every sound, every question, every look makes him more and more stressed. His life is chaotic and he responds to the people he loves most with anger, frustration, and a very short fuse. Even little things, like the post on his stairs breaking, make him snap. Then he is handed the broken remnants of a flower from his daughter zuzu and for a second the world stops…
It might seem like an odd scene to bring up, but some days this is exactly how I feel as a married parent of 4 kids who has two jobs.
Life can be chaotic.
There are days when just hearing a kid say “dad!!!” makes me want to bang my head against the wall. You know those days…
How is it that some days the decibel level in the house seems to reach toxic measurements that rival being next to a jet airplane? Every kid has forgotten what “inside voice” means as they barrel through the door after school throwing bags and kicking shoes and coats hoping they don’t land in the sink or in the candle I lit while I was working. You know those days…
Your job has been intense, your bills are piling up and you can’t seem to get ahead of the game. Dave Ramsey says “get another job”, but you already work two and you do need to pee sometimes, so you plow ahead trying to do everything you can to contribute to your home. You know those days…
Your spouse, who also works, comes home tired and worn out as well and you stare at each other with wide open eyes…waiting… Who will snap first? One of you will bring up something that needs to be done still, never got started or open up a can of “I just can’t handle talking about that right now… Im toast”. Instead you try and catch up on the day and attempt a pleasant conversation together, however you forgot today was “extreme yelling day” and you can’t hear each other over the screeching owl sounds of your children. You know those days…
“I don’t like this dinner!”
“too bad… eat it…”
“He hit me!”
“honestly.. today I just don’t care”
“Sorry… wrong number.. we aren’t here tonight”
“Do me a favor and go to the fridge and grab some cheddar… I think it will pair nicely with that whine!”
You know those days…
You need to know something about me. I have run coffee shops, started a business, spoken at conferences, ran large events and concerts, and even created and large worship conferences in another state. In each one of those instances, when it became chaotic, I began to thrive. It was almost like a challenge or a boost and it was exciting. In that Chaos I discovered the greatest attributes of myself.
When that same chaos happens in my home it is another story. I have no control over the situations and everything seems to be out of anyones control as well. Everything can and will go wrong and the oxygen is sucked out of the room. Suddenly, and without warning, my mood and responses switch from chill and commanding to frustrated, angry and demanding. In that Chaos I discovered the greatest failings of myself.
I like to call that my zuzu’s petal’s moments. Because I go mental, the joy is sucked right out of me and I forget what truly matters.
See, at the end of the movie George has an epiphany. Not only does he make an impact on the world in a way he never knew, but he re-discovers how important the craziness of his loved ones is… He pulls the petals out of his pocket with an excitement that can’t be contained. In that one scene he finds Joy in the chaos, Joy in the brokenness, Joy in the frustration. He is loved and he gets to love in return.
In John 15 it speaks of our identity/actions being an offshoot of Jesus “Abide in me…that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”. It seems clear to me that at my core and in the chaos I don’t have the ability to be joyful outside of Christ working in me.
A man ought to live so that everybody knows he is a Christian… and most of all, his family ought to know. – D.L. Moody
That right there is my goal. Even in the chaos as I pull the reminders of the things that matter most to me out of my pockets… zuzu’s petals… Can I be like Christ to my wife and kids. Can I find Joy in the chaos, Joy in the brokenness, Joy in the frustration, knowing I am so loved and I get the privilege to love in return.