15 Sep 2014

Life is ...wild, and we enjoy the ride best when we get out of the engine room..and change track!

Some time around the third week of my marriage I admitted it: it is hard.

I have read the books. They all say it is hard. But I don't bow to fear. I don't cower. I don't back off.
At least that's what I thought.

These few days, I feel again that familiar weariness of laying brick-upon-brick.. and am jarred, angry, teary when it seems like sometimes the whole beautiful structure got kicked over; and I am left standing, wondering if I still want to pick up another brick and keep going. The parenting blues.

I still read the books. In fact, when my daughter was all of the mighty two-year-old, I had read this book, Parenting is a wild ride. It had a roller coaster on its cover. I am terrified of roller coasters but the picture did not deter me. I dug in. Like marriage, I jumped onto the parenting track and started chugging on, down and around.

Perhaps my mantra in life is to overcome wildness with more of the same!

But I am realising there are many kinds of wild, and that over-coming may not always be the thing that works.

I love wild mushroom soup; but all the mushroom we find in our soup cans are not grown or produced without human aid. Today, we veer perhaps towards over-intervention in our need to overcome, be on top, make things work. In fact, we are regulating, controlling, and manipulating so much these days, the wildness of God's wide world is being shrunk as species die... and are precious variants of human thriving dying out too as we tend to box ourselves and others up - today's perfect marriage and children certainly look a lot alike; all facebook happy-clappy.

Souls with skin on can come astir to surprise and shock. 
Souls with skin on can rise to heights and plunge deep and dark.
Souls with skin on are more than what appears to be.

We wish our growth is steady. That our marriages move only upward towards greater acceptance and mutuality. Our children step up towards greater responsibility and sensibility. But then we get the wildness that interrupts the dance steps and we trip into a mess.

Life is wild.  

The wildness of life seems to me to grow in direct proportion to our age. This past year I keep marveling at how after nearly half a century of 'do-ing life' I am not necessarily getting a better handle on things! Perhaps, we get tired, we have had enough... certainly, we never arrive at mastery! There is no sifu among us.

We come to a time when we must stop trying to wish for change but settle down to the giftedness of acceptance. There comes a time when a parent can only watch and pray as the children must make those life choices and watch their lives unfold.

And perhaps it is those who learn how to stop stringing moments into a showcase string of pearls enjoy it better. It is those who know little is already much, that each day is such a Grace-grant to facilitate soul-deepening that smile the broadest.

Of course, while life is breaking out all about us, making us feel a-tossed; it is easy to march to the eternal counter of accountability where we demand (yes, imagine this!) an accounting from God Himself no less! Why this, why now, why me?

Well, friends, this is because.... God is wild. 

Here is the Merriam-Webster dictionary's definition for 'wild':...not cultivated, not subject to restraint or regulation... . That's God, and that is maddening for us. 

My teen daughter this past week has been all excited about this personality profiling app she found. She made both her dad and I take the Myers-Briggs test. I almost don't recognise the excitement: of discovery, of taming, of naming. She is trying to figure life out; and she wants to figure us out too! She is behaving human par excellence!

But God doesn't fit the profile test. He has character and he is the ultimate Integer and hence Integrity; but He is wholly beyond our fully finding and knowing. So, we cannot list all His properties and 'make use' of Him. This is not to say we won't keep trying!

So we are as the old man Job said, 
'born for trouble (as surely as) sparks fly upward (Job 5v7).

This one-liner is not a statement of damnation or cold logic. It is as all truth is, an invitation to jam the brakes and consider.
Man's troubles are not an external imposition by an unhappy God. It is an internal logic that contradicts. We live in a wild world ruled by a wild God (please take care to understand this properly); but we are bent on fixing everything just-so in order to meet our needs and satisfy our wants. Can you hear the gears jamming?

What are we to do?

Get out! Yes, We need to get out of the engine room.
Stop pretending like we are in charge.
Start recognizing that "In the Beginning, God.." means God started it all, not us. We answer to Him, not the other way around.

Then we need to get on the right track. We are born with rail joiners that have fastened us to a hyper-speed track headed for oblivion. All long the way, there is an alternate track we can choose to connect with. It is the Recipient's track. On this track, we must remain in the passenger coach and take in the sights. It is the best way to travel the world because we get to see so much more. After all, didn't we begin life by receiving? The first breath, the first suckle, the first kiss..our first hopes, dreams, every-day Grace... and Love.

Then see what happens.

The engine room is a place of grave responsibility and dire control. Ultimately, there can be one final Engineer. But often, the engine room is crowded. In a marriage, a couple fights to rule and run life essentially. Strip away everything and that's the nub. Parents fight children because we are afraid our kids lose their way and get side-tracked. Our genes, sacrifices, wisdom, money says we should hang on and stand our ground in the hot stuffy engine room.

But it's all too much.

It's all too much because life is wild and we just don't have enough within us to answer every situation. If we saw our spouse and children as fellow passengers with whom we share bread and gasp at the view together with; wouldn't the ride be more wondrous? We don't have to fix, answer for, explain, cover every ground. We cannot anyway.

I still read marriage and parenting books. There are days the wildness of life still stumps me and it's all the more Grace that I can laugh, write, pray and then reach for another brick to keep building and to stay on the right track.

photo credits: http://photographyblogger.net

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