Tangles, and Chaos, and Messes

I am late to the party this week. In Whole Mama, we are writing according to the prompt word: mess. I have all the thoughts about mess. I have all the mess, too. I've had so many piles of mental clutter to sort through before I could bring you this week's treasure. I woke up each morning thinking: "Not today. I'm not ready yet. My thoughts are still too tangled."

Tangles have emerged as a theme before in my life. I recently took my children to the playground, being sure to carry my camera along. I started snapping photos and soon realized everything my eyes were being drawn to shared a common theme: Tangles. Roots, branches, feathers in the grass. Nature is a mess, and I think in some ways, was intended to be. It shapes itself around freedom. It embraces the chaos.

Maybe this is the day I tell you I don’t believe God is a god of order. I don’t believe in a god of order. Such a god would have no space for things like free will, or mercy, or artistically inclined minds. The one I believe in is the God over order and chaos alike. And to me, creation looks so much more like a rebellion against order, because what could be more tidy than formless and empty?

Maybe this is the day I talk about how I believe an obsession with order has created an unsustainable environment for faith, because it leaves no room for all the questions that have no definitive answers. It declares that an ounce of unbelief is a pound of heresy. It thinks people can grow in boxes. It loves its idea of purity or sinlessness more than our unique expressions of humanity.

It might also be the day I remind you that Jesus wanted us to change and become like little children. Would a god of order ever ask us to be children? Children are the opposite of order. They can barely put their shoes on the right feet. If they can find their shoes at all.

Maybe instead, today is just another one of those days I should stay quiet, I tell myself, because communication is messy. Prone to error. Open to misinterpretation. Risky.

Getting specific about what I think or wonder or protest or doubt has the potential to create giant tangles of words and feelings and relationships and reputations. Of course it does. It always does. But if I turn think-before-you-speak into don’t-speak, I will be forfeiting opportunities to talk about the messiness, resolve the conflicts, defeat the lies that tell me I am not enough, not worthy, not able. Those lies certainly have quite the speaking circuit these days.

I am learning what I think God’s green earth has been aching for me to learn: There is beauty in the chaotic tangles of creation. People, flowers, trees, all growing in their own unique way.

Some adapt to their own environment, weaving a tall destiny.

Some are shaped by circumstances.

Some follow the wind, even if it drives them to their knees.

Some spread their roots too deep and wide to be shaken easily.

And some pour themselves into the details of the moment, infusing each small leaf with a glorious pattern.

And all are beautiful. All are the work of divine love whispered into Let there be … life.

Inside of the tangles, chaos, and mess: this is where we live life. This, too, is where we find beauty. This, too, is where we discover hope and happiness. And maybe even peace.

Jamie Bagley