A Citizen of the Nation of Chaos

No, Chaos is not one of the cities in a dystopian youth novel. It is a very real place.

There are a lot of people who live in the nation of Chaos. For some, their citizenship is earned because of a loved one's addiction. They never know if they are going to get Nice Dad or Angry Dad, if Mom will be making dinner when they get home or passed out cold.

In Chaos, we pray our children are safe ... not doing something that could get them arrested. If they do get arrested, we feel a sense of relief, because we know that at least they are safe. And then we feel guilty for feeling that relief.

In Chaos, mental illness is a familiar address. Whether it's the creeping darkness of depression, the sleepless, exuberant nights of mania, or the sinister voices in the mind only one person hears, mental illness makes itself right at home in Chaos.

It's hard to make plans in Chaos. A family might get ready for a vacation, and then someone goes off the rails. A car accident - once - makes one forever leery of driving ... even though it's necessary. If the family does manage to get off on vacation, that one kid in the family will likely have a very public fit that makes everyone else in the family wish they had never left home.

Living in Chaos means that faith, hope and love are always quite tentative. You know they are there, but they always seem just out of reach. It's like those stupid claw games that kids feed quarters into, aiming to get a cheap stuffed animal. You are manipulating the claw closer and closer to faith or hope or love ... and then you drop it, or miss completely. And of course, you don't have any more quarters to feed the machine.

Being a citizen of Chaos means you have your own pledge of allegiance. You pledge allegiance to sticking it out, no matter what, but you know that the nation of Chaos offers no protection in return. There is no military standing at the ready to fight your battles - you are on your own. The nation is easily divisible, as it is often every man, woman and child for themselves. You learn not to count on people who are not fellow citizens too much, as they get very weary of dealing with you and your "issues."

On the other hand, when you find another fellow citizen of Chaos, you don't need to explain much. They know. They know the humiliation, the sadness, the lack of looking forward to anything because you know it probably will just get mucked up anyway. They are fellow citizens, and companions on the way.

Once you become a citizen of Chaos, you are always a citizen. You can move away, but you still belong to that place, and it is always a part of you. Everything about who you are and what you do is tainted by Chaos.

In Chaos, there is faith, but you have to carry it around in your very heavy bag. It gets crushed down to the bottom, underneath the water and tissues and medication and snack bars and car keys and phone numbers to every mental health professional in the country. But every once in awhile,  you clean out your bag, and you find it. And it gets you through.

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. - Philip. 4:6-7

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