Kingdom of Rest

written by J. A. Hart
I have a confession to make: I like chaos.

I don’t love it, but I do like it. Over the course of my life, I have in many ways found worth in it. Not in the chaos itself, but what it gives me. Chaos pushes me to my default like Buzz Lightyear’s factory setting in Toy Story 3.

I pride myself in "Ordo ab Chao" or order from chaos, mostly because I believe I can bring order from chaos. I have always been good at organizing things; I get it from my dad- a six-sigma blackbelt holder. Give me an unorganized room, and I can have it organized perfectly within a day. Tell me your processes, and I will find the holes in your system and patch them up. I hate this default, but a part of me needs it.

A good portion of my imposter self and smaller story is rooted in this. If I had to give this imposter a name, it would be The Right Guy or Guy Right-chie (see what I did there?).

I have struggled with this imposter self most of my life, but he became more apparent when I started dating my now wife. (Before I start, Nadia, I love you. You are one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.) My wife doesn’t do everything in the most efficient way, at least from my vantage. She values relationship over efficiency (part of what attracted me to her). She wants to do chores together. I tend to just want it done. This value difference tends to turn conversations into arguments. When we are doing things together like cleaning the house or going to the store, I find myself defaulting to my factory settings a lot to “just get it done.”  Before I understood her heart for relationship, I would result to logic and reason, “Do it this way, it’ll work better (more efficiently).” Suffice it to say, it wouldn’t, hasn’t, and never will. My wife usually immediately shuts down in frustration or self-hatred, and I stand confused, “Why isn’t this working? Why are these tools useless? Am I useless?”

I haven’t always been this way. When I was younger, I loved story in any form (still do). We could be talking about the most ridiculous topic, and I could bring it back to a movie or book. Story is just that important in my life. Especially film and music.

As I’ve gotten older, I have in many ways forgotten story. I still love it, but I don’t find the intense joy in it that I once did. I used to pay attention to the beauty in the narrative, think about what it said to my heart and write about it’s impact on me.

Over time this shifted, I don’t look for the true, the good, and the beautiful; instead, I focus on technique, style, and choice. I consistently critique the author, director, writer, etc on the choices they made versus loving it for the beauty in the art. It’s like enduro motorcycle riding across the side of a mountain. Instead of enjoying the thrill of the ride, you examine why it is so enjoyable; then you critique someone for their experience of the ride. Essentially, your heart is wrong for experiencing it that way. In the past, I have been your quintessential prig. It got to the point where my brother stopped watching movies with me unless I shut up about it.

This priggish mindset can and has at times become pervasive throughout my life. Somewhere, along the path, I chose to take one of the world’s definition of “adult.” There are many who would deem my priggishness as “useful.” Many who live from the same imposter in their lives. Those people who agree that kids should “grow up” and live in the “real world.” In this imposter, I feel a need to be useful and prove my worth. Chaos is my ally in fortifying this imposter. I need to be useful to be needed, and guess who has an opening?

But I can tell you, I am so tired. I can’t think straight any more. Sure, I am getting paid. I feel like I accomplish a lot during the day by improving and improving. Chaos give me an opportunity to prove that I can bring order. Yet, as I bring order, he piles seventy more accounts onto my desk. So, I work and work and work. I strive and push, and where does it lead me? To more chaos. So it is, in the Kingdom of Chaos.

Yet, I’ve heard whispers of another kingdom, I’m told I can live in. A Kingdom where I don’t have to be worn and weary all the time, one where I don’t have to strive to be needed because I am wanted.

The King of this Kingdom calls me by name saying, “Come to me, I know you are weary and heavy of heart. Come and I will give you rest.”

This King is leading me down a new path. He begins by taking me back to when I was a boy. He reminds me of the things I loved when I was young: story, beauty, love. He shows me why I loved them. He reminds me that I loved them because in them I found him. In every story I read, every movie I loved, he made an appearance, not a forthwrite appearance, but one that spoke directly to my heart.

I am asked to live in the “real world,” but this king claims his way is the most real. He shows me: I am a sailor who has one foot in the boat, and one foot on land. How will I ever be able to sail this way? At some point, I have to trust the boat will carry me across the sea to a land where the grass is evergreen, the water is eversweet, and I will be home.

He shows me that I don’t need to be needed, I want to be wanted. More than I ever needed chaos. He promises that I will find rest in him, if I follow him. He reaches his hand down to help me into the boat.

Every day, I wake up facing this choice. Will I get into the boat? Will I enter into this king’s Kingdom?

Everyday, he calls me back- to remember my first love, himself. He calls me to be, to get in the boat and sail the sea. Not because he needs me, I don’t know how to sail. He calls me to sail because he wants to spend time with me. He wants me for me and that is a gift I can ever work for.

I receive this gift by learning how to spend time with him. For me, I love to be with him in nature, writing poetry about the things he lays on my heart. I love reading The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, allowing his heart to speak to me while I read. When something speaks to me, I ask him what he is saying. I read  John and the Psalms (my favorite books), allowing him to speak to me. I also spend time just listening to his voice. I ask him, “What do you have for me today? What are we doing together today?” Whatever his answer is, I receive it and step into his kingdom with him. Jesus answers all the questions I have. He gives me what my heart wants and needs, time with him. I can rest that whatever else I feel needs my immediate attention will come, but maybe not right now.

This is how we move from the Kingdom of Chaos into the Kingdom of Rest. By spending time with our first love and king- Jesus.

It’s that easy and that hard.

Calibration:

He is calling you to spend time with him too. He wants you, not because you can give him anything, but because of who you are. Spending time with him may look different for you than it does for me. Seek that out!

1. What are some things you loved (made you feel at home) as a kid that you have lost as an adult?

2. What did you love about those things? What made them feel like home?

3. What are some of the imposters that keep you from those places?

4. Ask Jesus to reveal himself in those places.

5. Ask Jesus what he loves doing with you.

6. What are the things you love doing by yourself? Where do you go when you have time alone?

7. Next time you are there, invite Jesus there.

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