When my wife and I were on holidays one time in beautiful Daylesford in Victoria, we walked to a small shop that sold antiques. It was very old, a little run-down, and not set out very well—at least that’s what I thought. And near the door was a sign “Warning – chaos inside”. I knew what the owner was trying to say: “If you step inside, don’t expect order and neatness. It’s just the opposite, but come inside just the same”.
This started me thinking about lives I have known where there’s been plenty of chaos and disorder. This is a huge subject, and I can’t really do justice to it in 4.5 minutes today. It’s about burnout, the relationship problems, the inner conflict, the outer chaos. Maybe you know what this means, and have experienced these things yourself. We don’t like talking about them to others for fear of being rejected. One woman said, “I feel like I’m going to lose my mind—with work, a destructive 2-year-old, marriage, money, people, family. I feel like I am going to explode!” Have you ever felt like that?
I am grateful to Dr Gordon Moyes for some thoughts on this. Professor Charles Birch, who was Challis Professor of Biological Sciences at Sydney University, and one of the world’s leading environmentalists, wrote this: “There is chaos on four levels today. There is the inner chaos revealed by peoples’ inability to live with themselves; social chaos revealed in man’s inability to live with his neighbour; environmental chaos where man is eliminating these natural surroundings for concrete jungles; and metaphysical chaos where man feels he has no relationship with the universe about him. Man today has no ‘at-one-ment’ with himself, his neighbour, his environment or his God. Man is alienated, estranged, disintegrated and diseased.” Professor Birch is right!
When chaos happens in our lives, we have a tendency to panic. We lose control. We don’t know how to act and what to do with this new storm. We feel powerless.
Everyone is always working on improving themselves and there’s always some new goal to achieve. And things are definitely happening. Places to go and people to see. But underneath it all, there is something we can never gain by what we accomplish. Relationships. Real, soul-filling, deep connection. Friendships where we can really be known. So much innovation, yet we feel so disconnected!
I am sure we each need to stop and think about the deeper issues of life. Too often we live on the surface, just going through the motions, and wonder why we feel our life is spinning out of control—maybe our life is like a jar of river water all shaken up. What we need is stillness and silence so that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.
Am I really worth anything if I’m not constantly out there proving myself? Why is it so hard for me to slow the frantic pace of my life? What am I really afraid of? These are tough questions. It is painful to stay with them instead of distracting ourselves by getting up to do laundry, mow the lawn, or go to work early. Forever on the go, trying to mask the inner panic.