Everywhere I look right now I see utter chaos. Clutter reigns supreme in the Ripa household tonight. A few short hours ago, Jenn and her friend Melissa took on the task of painting our living room. Where were the husbands you might ask when this was all taking place? Good question. No, you would be mistaken if you answered relaxing in style in front of an HDTV watching college football on this very important conference championship weekend. Instead, we were strolling throughout Wilmington in our mini van playing My Two Dads, watching A Little Mermaid and heading to the aquarium. Sadly this is how I walk, how I run, how I spend my days in the sun wandering free now as a 30 year old man. Don’t you want to be part of my world?
Like with most projects the Ripa clan takes on, we left all the prep work until a few minutes before Melissa showed up. This means couches pushed awkwardly together up against the dinning room table. Coffee tables, lamps and picture frames create an interesting maze of mess. The toys that had been consuming our living room are now spread throughout the kitchen. Going potty places you in quite a predicament because it requires one to contort their body in ways almost humanly impossible just to shimmy past all the mess.
So, here I sit in the midst of the clutter waiting for the second coat of paint to drive in hopes of regaining some sort of normalcy again. I love the finished project, but dread waiting in the midst of the points in between. Chaos stresses me out, which is unfortunate because life is all about change, unpredictability and from time to time utter chaos. When my world gets turned upside down I reach out in hopes of finding a constant for some grounding. I yearn for something consistent to get me through life’s inconsistencies. Over time, I’ve begun to experience comfort knowing that when everything else changes that I can still count on a few things to remain the same:
1. Kid’s night every Tuesday at Atlanta Bread Company
2. Not being quite the musical elitist to “get” a Radiohead album
3. The gas light turning on every time we’re running late for a party
4. Amy Winehouse entering rehab, getting clean, going on a coke binge and ending back in rehab
5. After every weekend, having a coworker say “Looks like someone has a bad case of the Mo-ndays” and the urge coming over me to punch them in the face
6. Cubs fans saying this is finally going to be their year and them being dead wrong yet again
7. Al Gore blaming all the world’s ills on global warming, even illegal immigration
8. My two girls wanting to dance when they hear “Mercy” by Duffy begin to play on my iPod
9. The waves at Wrightsville beach breaking when they reach the sand
10. A loving God being the same, yesterday and forever
I know there will be some who read this list and get up in arms about the inclusion of #10. They look down at the cards life has dealt them and question where a caring God could possibly be in the midst of their anger, sorrow, hurt and pain? Or they watch scenes of genocide, war and poverty on the evening news and come to the conclusion there is no God and even if there is one he could care less about the events transpiring in the world today. I’d be a fool if I attempted to give you a pat answer or bumper sticker slogan to try and explain away these issues and prove “my” point.
But, my inclusion of the consistency of God’s character isn’t to prove a point or win an argument. All I can talk about is what I have experienced firsthand. Engaging in this process of becoming a man, I’ve begun to realize being consistently inconsistent marks my character. The only constant I provide my family is the fact that I will add to the randomness that is our life together by constantly wrestling with my integrity and being a man of my word. When you look in the mirror and see a reflection of a man who is up one moment and down the other, it shakes your very core because you are forced to face the realization that you are not being the husband and father your family needs.
Left with all my shortcomings and failings, it would be very easy for me to feel hopeless and lost. Yet, I’ve found refuge in the grace and love of God. The relief I’ve experienced is not a neat little trick I use to gloss over my behavior and excuse my actions. Rather, it drives me to become a better man. The times when I take two step forwards and almost instantly take one step back, I know the loving God who has sparked this change in the first place is there with me in the midst of the process.