There’s that moment when you realize, “This is my circus and these are my monkeys.”
I heard a good friend say that once to some other guy. That other guy was married but didn’t have any kids. He wasn’t a new dad. He certainly wasn’t a foster father. He led a simple and orderly life filled with movie theaters, restaurants, concerts and full nights of sleep. I haven’t been that other guy for awhile now. Now I’m the guy who understands the full reach and meaning of the word “circus.” I now understand how it feels to stand in the midst of juggling, taming, tricks and terrifying feats of strength… balancing somewhere between harmony and havoc . I stand in the vortex of chaos, tip my hat and herald the next act. I am The Ringleader.
Misfits: I don’t have anything against the cool kids really. I’ve just always been more apt to find beauty in the remarkably peculiar. I don’t find elegance in perfection. In symmetry I find solace but not beauty. Our cracks and our flaws, the smudges and speckles are what make us interesting. It’s the gaps filled in with grace that identify us as followers of Christ. Ever since I was a kid I gravitated to people and interests a little off the beaten path, and when a fellow pastor asked me once what I wanted in a church my response was, “My own island of misfit toys.” Isn’t that what the church should be? So with an inclination for the eccentric it shouldn’t have been a surprise that my wife and I ended up being foster parents. Maybe it wasn’t a surprise to us but it certainly was a shock to go from just the two of us to sharing our home with two little girls diagnosed with PTSD: beautiful, creative, cracked misfits. So when I put my three daughters (one bio, two foster) to bed and I pray over them… I pray things like that they will run cross-country, have an awkward phase until they are twenty, join the computer club, stick their nose in a book, or run for StuCo treasurer. I want for them what has been a blessing and a curse for me–to be the voice calling for the divergence from the status quo. I want them to think differently even if it labels them, even if it upsets the egos of people who don’t like change, even if it causes conflict, because that thinking is what is beautiful and changes the world. So this is me hanging a sign out: “Misfits Welcome.”
Mischief: I guess it just goes with the territory of being a misfit but I can’t believe I’m the only one that enjoys mischief… just a little. You can call it a lot of things, but personally I like to think that my creativity exceeds conventional uses. I get bored. I don’t find silence comforting. It is honestly a little unnerving. I like to take my daughters to the park. But when we go we bring lightsabers. Other parents stare and shake their heads and their children stare too, but it is with envy. So other kids want to play and when their parents pull them away because it is too dangerous, or they don’t let their kids play with weapons, those kids pitch a fit. My girls don’t mind the stares and we are not sorry your kid is having feelings. We are too busy having fun. As a strong “High D” personality I’m supposed to neither shrink from conflict nor enjoy it. But to be honest I can’t quite kick the habit of stirring the pot.
Mission: I can’t say with conviction that in my line of work the two previously mentioned passions have served me well. Mining for conflict, pushing for change and not being afraid to say and do the things that put me on the outside haven’t exactly endeared me to my employers or opened career advancement opportunities. I find this a little sad… since I’m in the business of offering grace to outcasts and sticking to a belief that bucks the social norms. Something that has been on my heart since I was very small growing up watching my dad help people in the church and sometimes in spite of the church… I think we can always be better. I
think believe the church can change the world. I don’t believe we do that with our cool buildings and our ability to keep everyone happy. I don’t believe having families fill their calendars with church events saves them, it just pumps our egos. The church used to drive art, politics and culture. Now we settle for carving out our own little subculture praying to God that the next family that puts in its membership is young, good-looking and only has small problems like “I have all this money and nowhere to donate it.” I serve in the ministry because I see too many people and churches fortifying tradition in a world that is debuting a new iPhone every six months. If our churches aren’t filled with misfits, maybe they should be. Maybe through a little mischief we could shake the bonds of lethargy and we could carry on with the mission Christ entrusted us with.
So as you can tell, my life is not simple. I think I’d get bored if it was. This blog is my journal, my sounding board, and my soapbox. Ladies and Gentlemen, step right up and welcome to the main event. The price of admission… belief.