It’s been over a month since I’ve written anything here. There are lots of reasons why, but it’s mostly because anything I could have mustered up the desire to write over the last month would not have been very fun or happy or optimistic. Recently my friend Ben (I promised I’d give him a shout out…) bluntly told me this was unacceptable. He said if I want to call this blog my “storybook” I have to include it all because that’s what a story is: ups and downs, happy parts and sad parts, stuff that makes you laugh and parts that make you cry. Good stories are about brokenness and redemption, wandering and coming home.
The things is, I know these things are true about stories. This is exactly what draws me in to the Christian story of the Bible. These are the reasons why I believe and follow Jesus.
And I’ve been thinking for a while about the paradox of beauty and mess that happens all around us, all the time. (I have a blog draft with this same title saved from 3 months ago.) Wikipedia defines paradox as this: any contradictory or obviously untrue statement, which resolves itself upon later inspection. If you’re willing to see it, I think it’s impossible to have one without the other.
A couple examples || I just watched the documentary War/Dance telling the story of three children from the war zone in Northern Uganda who compete in the country’s national music festival. It is a story full of the paradoxes of beauty and tragedy, triumph and anguish. I would highly recommend it! Also, for the visually oriented, here is an inspiring photo blog depicting these same themes – Voices of Haiti.
Evidence of this paradox is all over the Bible, too. I’m thinking especially of the story in Mark 14 of the woman who pours expensive perfume on Jesus and washes his feet with her hair. Talk about a beautiful mess…the intense smell of pungent perfume saturating the air, the embarrassing, poorly timed scene the poor woman causes. And Jesus responds by blessing the woman’s beautifully messy act, insisting her story be told as a model for what it means to truly live.
For some reason though, I’ve only recently started trying to connect these ideas of story and paradox to my own life. Even in what has seemed like the mess of the last several months, I have to believe there is beauty or I’m just being a hypocrite. And if ever I enter a season of beauty (and not to worry because I’m hopeful that I will), I want to be brave enough to embrace the mess in that, too.
We live life in the tension of paradox. And if nothing else right now, I’m thankful for that because the alternative is a life too shallow for purpose or effort.