As I sat in a Hebrew Bible class in the early 1980’s my mouth dropped and tears filled my eyes. We were studying the creation narratives in Genesis. I heard for the first time that God created order out of chaos. I had been taught that God made nothing into something and that God separated things and had males rule over females, but I had not learned that one significant role of our divine creator was and still is to bring order out of disorder.
Today we are living in a time when chaos is becoming the norm. Chaos is praised as “change.” Chaos is celebrated! So as I reflected back on my class I found comfort in the interpretation that God is a god of order not chaos. Chaos and darkness were the norm before humanity was invited to be in relationship with the divine.
In my early ministry days I walked with a young mother who had been severely abused as a child. She and her children lived in daily chaos. As she received professional and spiritual counseling to care for her wounds, I noticed a pattern that kept appearing. Just when her professional counselor declared that she was “stabilized,” she created a scene that caused her peace to be thrown into chaos again.
I was puzzled. Why didn’t she like to live in order? What internal force kept pulling her back to chaos? I realized that all through her childhood and adult life chaos was her place of comfort, control, power, and security. It was where she found her identity.
In these last months I find myself reflecting on her story. Where and what tempts me into the swirls and twists of chaos? Separation and hatred enter my chaotic world when I twist with the noise and clutter of unhealed and power hungry voices screaming division and hatred to others. Chaos drives me to unending circles of hopelessness.
I am tempted to stay in chaos for its false sense of power. But eventually I remember the One of real power who always invites us to be “ordered” in love.
Rev. Jolene Bergstrom Carlson