Does Your Life/Art [have] Matter?

“Christ said that His Kingdom – the world where He Himself reigns – is for children. He Himself said that if we don’t need a miracle we will most likely have little interest in Him. If we are able to get along joyfully in the grown-up world of supply, demand, survival, aggression, sensations, and consumerism, then we’d probably have too low to stoop and too much trimming to do to slip through that needle’s eye gateway to Him. If we aren’t sick, we don’t need a doctor. If we aren’t lost, we don’t need a leader. But, if we can admit a need, if we aren’t as all-together (as we sometimes secretly fear we’re not), if we can shed our thick-skinned self-reliance and peel off that thin veneer of satisfaction – then there is a place for us in His kingdom and a fairly fat chance that we can loosen our load and slip on through. If we can find that courage…or that honesty…if we can be needy, helpless, blessed as a child….Oh Lord, this is me calling – an adult in an adult world, needing to be a child again in a kingdom of children. O Lord – can You make me that? It will take a miracle.”

-Rich Mullins, The World As I Remember It: Through the Eyes of a Ragamuffin, Pp.92-93

I’m learning that life is just a seamless series of transitions and that the only way that I can find any clear direction is to look back and see my tracks from where I’ve already been. The notion of trying to look ahead and carry out some kind of plan of action for the future seems to break down when faced with the reality of how I actually live each day.

My reality, where the rubber meets the road, always turns out to be, in the words of Bono, “like a small child crossing an eight lane highway, on a voyage of discovery.”  The problem with this is that my head is always spinning, my attention is splintered and, while I’m trying to keep my fingers on everything, I end up not having a good grip on anything.

I have a great appreciation for creativity, art, and the importance of investigational or exploratory dialogue when it comes to learning about who we are as humans, the meaning of life, etc. Indeed, there is great satisfaction to be found in veiling the release of one’s frustrations and fears creatively under the veneer of a lyric, verse, or brush stroke. Song lyrics, poems, and visual works by various artists have played a significantly therapeutic role in sorting out the random potholes and more tragic highway accidents that I’ve witnessed or been a part of along this journey so far. But the realization that has settled on me today is that simple truth is sometimes the best thing there is.

I’m at a point in life where I carry enough of my own baggage without having to pay ten bucks to download an album that features the vented and hopeless baggage of somebody else. While it may just be a product of my own insecurities, my trust in others is usually thin. I fear for the future that my children will face. I find myself crumbling in frustration all too often as a result of bad decisions that I’ve made and I carry a significant load of anxiety with regard to my recognition that, as a parent, my decisions and the way that I live will have a big influence on my kids.

What I really need is a reminder that grace is here and that hope has a place here as well. I understand that struggling is normal and that, though we have God, we will still face challenges. I am thankful for the people in my life who sincerely and humbly share their daily struggles with me so that I can, at least, prayerfully support them and also find comfort in the fact that I’m not alone.

The words of folks like Brennan Manning, Rich Mullins, and Paul the Apostle carry a great deal of weight for me because of their life experiences and the ground-level view that they maintain or maintained during their time here. But, out of their struggles and mistakes, and out of those shared by friends and loved ones, hope and grace have blossomed.

As opposed to just trying to pull a fashionable and artistically painted veil over their walk, leaving a vacuum in their wake, I wish that there were more people who were willing to drop their veneers, admit their flaws, and sincerely share their struggles so that we can all make it across to the other side of this eight lane highway.

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