Sunday, July 13, 2014

On chaos and peace

The nurse at the Arbors called. Dorris was upset and was not to be appeased.

I found her in the hall sitting on her fancy walker with a look on her face that spoke volumes.

“What papers did you folks sign that put me in this loony bin?”

No manner of soft patient discussion could convince her that this place was not a loony bin, but instead a safe place to live.

“Why do I have to live in this place that has protection all around? I want to go home.”

But, when I ask her about home, she describes the farm of her youth. I gently tell her she has not lived on a farm in over 50 years and she looks at me in disbelief.

“Wait a minute, I am checking your math.”

I assure her this is a good place for her to live because her memory is no longer strong.

“I do not have memory problems, I just lie a lot.”

Nice try, but, no. 

Again, we talk and she agrees that the people are nice, the food is good, there are things to do, and people who visit.

But, it is not home – even if she can no longer really remember what her home was like, she knows this isn’t it.

“Trust me, Dorris, you are a perfect fit for a memory care facility. I know because I am teaching a class on cognition and memory, so I am an expert.”

Finally, a smile.

As I leave, she sternly informs me that this discussion is not over.

I counter with: "If by 'not over' you mean that you still hope to convince me to take you to the farm, it's not happening."

"We'll just see about that" she says, always with the last word. 

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31b-32, ESV)
As I drove home, I was reminded of a favorite song by Audrey Assad: You Speak. This line especially resonates today: 

“You liberate me from my own noise and my own chaos”

The Arbors is well suited to its name. It is a place of protection, of calm and of order. The chaos Dorris feels is not in her environment instead, it is created in her mind. The truth does not make sense for her, and it does not bring her freedom – freedom from where she lives, or  freedom from her confusion. 

This point in my life does not speak of chaos. Even though I have forgotten pretty much everything I learned about statistics, my memories are fairly well intact. I am nearing the end of my degree program with one big step remaining. My children are happy, healthy, productive, and live a life of faith. Paul and I rattle around in a peaceful house.

Yet, just as Dorris seeks liberation, so do I.

My chaos is my sin, my lack of trust, my need to control, my tendency to gripe and complain, my need to be needed and admired, my seeking after an earthly peace. Freedom from these things eludes me.

What I have is freedom from the eternal consequences of my sin. I have freedom from the power of the Law. I have the freedom to live a new life in Christ.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, ESV)

It is a strange thing that we have both sin and freedom. Our sin still surrounds us and brings us grief, but we are not slaves to it. We serve a loving, forgiving God, a God of liberation.

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:3-4, ESV)

We are blessed to live in the freedom of a new life, a new purpose, a new faith.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (II Corinthians 3:17)

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