I've been thinking a lot about it, and I've concluded that as humans, we have these perceptions of how things are supposed to be. We might have perceptions for what we're supposed to be doing with our lives and how we're supposed to be feeling. What our homes are supposed to be like, and what our marriages are supposed to be like, and how our children are supposed to behave. Many of us have this "gauge" that measures how our lives stack up with (what we perceive to be) the world around us and according to the gauge, we might conclude that most people have it much more together than we do.
Or at least they seem to laugh more and are happier and more spiritually grounded and more organized and more talented and more financially secure and more in-tune with their children's needs and they probably look better in jeans and have less gray hair and never yell at their dog (or children or spouse or dishwasher).
All around us, those people who belong in an advertisement for perfection, are everywhere. They are our neighbors and friends and co-workers and stranger's blogs that we read. Those people out there who are surrounded by loving and supportive families that never disagree and never accidentally wash a red sock on hot water with a load full of whites and they never set off the smoke alarm when cooking the holiday dinner which result in everyone having to dine on quesadillas instead of turkey. Or if they do those things, they're captured as hilariously funny and not bordering on homicidal serious.
Regardless of your religious affinity (or absence thereof), I'd suspect that the majority of us are going to struggle to varying degrees during the next four weeks of this blessed holiday season.
Yes, I do believe this is a blessed season because life never slows down and rarely goes according to "plan" and so it's up to shatter the illusions that are the most prevalent at this time of year and instead seek the peace, joy, love, and holiness that are ours for the taking.
Scattered throughout this post are photos of my children playing with Duplo Legos. These "baby" Legos are a core component of our toy arsenal because they are bright, colorful, sturdy, easy to grasp and don't get sucked up by my vacuum. Even though our 3/4 of our children are older than the recommended ages for Duplos (2-5), the kids still love these blocks and play with them all the time.
They are simple and I love simple.
While we have, courtesy of my sister Beth, I'm sure every Lego brick theme set invented within the past 10 years ... at this point in my life (or our children's lives), I'm not really a fan. They are kind of cool, but in our realm, they're too small.
To see the nifty sets on the cover of the box, it can be so tempting. But I know, all too well, that the pieces end up in random places all over the house and I have no idea which set the five millimeter neon green brick goes with and if I happen to figure it out, the minute after I've devoted two hours to building a set, someone accidentally moves it and the whole thing falls apart.
This isn't according to my plan!
How can I embrace this chaos?
Frustration, discouragement and depression ensues.
Until I realize that maybe playing with the Lego bricks isn't the right thing for us in our life right now and rather than force something that doesn't fit - or stare at the box longingly as something that seems like it would be great if we just tried again and had more organization within our ranks - let's stop banging our head against that "brick" wall.
We'll put it on a shelf and come back to it later.
Or maybe never.
When I started writing this post, I didn't intend that I'd be using Lego bricks as a metaphor for life, but that seems to be a fitting analogy because I could very easily convince myself that perhaps everyone, except for me, has children that keep the brick sets organized and are able to have the meticulously built sets remain intact.
Or perhaps everyone, except for me, embraces the clutter and spontaneous creativity that comes from playing with the Lego bricks and mess? What mess? Throw it all in a box and don't worry about the Harry Potter sets mixing with the Batman sets mixing with the Spiderman sets. Everyone, except for me, can handle the complicated sets a lot more gracefully than threatening to burn the bricks if I find another one outside of it's designated repository.
To be a more peaceful, joyful, loving and holy person, it means recognizing illusions and actively diverting complications (and triggers) so that you can live a life as simply and intentionally as possible.
And sometimes, that means embracing the baby blocks.