Life In The Institution

Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)

I awoke this morning with a song in my head. As a parent of young children, I’m not ashamed to admit that every once in a while, I’ll have a Wiggles song stuck in my head. 🙂 So as I was showering (with the songs still stuck in my head) I thought it might be fun to play that tune with my piano-learning son. He’s really getting quite good, so I figured I could chart out the notes to the song on a staff, and we could play it together.

As I started to think what the notes and rhythm might be, I remembered why I really don’t like putting music into notation. See, the rhythm of the song (at least in my head) is not something that can be captured on a piece of paper. It’s too alive for that. It needs to have feeling – more than any notation can capture. Yes, even for a Wiggles song.

And that’s when I realized the similarity to some things Jen and I have been discussing of late.

Just this weekend, my wife and I were chatting about relationship vs. institutional thinking. Primarily we were marveling at the way our society loves to glorify the systems we create. We have chosen to educate our children at home, rather than enrolling them in an educational institution. We think the benefits far outweigh any challenges for us. It’s just much more alive. It’s personal, relational and we can perfectly tailor our kids’ education to their personalities and learning styles. And, more than just lining them up in little desks and teaching them what we think they should learn at that moment, we are sensitive to what the day brings, and use each moment to form their hearts and minds. Or, in other words, to educate them.

It’s the same for Jen and I in our relationship with God and the church. For years, we’ve been part of the system that would attempt to contain that living reality in a well organized structure of programs, meetings, leaders and members. But over the past several years, God has shown us a bigger, yet simpler, reality. What we have always really known and taught, that life with him is an everyday relationship, yet now we are perhaps more genuinely living that out as we really live our every day with him. We do not compartmentalize him within a building, or a time, or even our own “quiet times”. He is central to everything we do. So different, and yet always what we have known and attempted to live out.

Somehow, even with the best of intentions, we are so good at creating structures. Not necessarily physical. Often they are just organizational. We have many groups you can be part of. Even beyond all the groups within the church. There’s boy scouts, girl scouts, community groups… all sorts of ways to organize our relationships. These are obviously not bad in themselves – what I am perplexed by is how it seems we must always do this. Why must we organize or attempt to “notate” everything we do.

Life can not be institutionalized. Relationships can not be bottled. We are organic. We’re alive. Dynamic. So, life with each other can not be captured by a system or formula. Much like music, which is more than just a formula, can not truly be captured by black circles on a page.

There is freedom in this. There is life in life. I’m not sure there is in an institution. Institutions deal with numbers and results. Life deals with people and relationships. There is some level of co-existence, but we are finding that every institution we can think of is only a limitation of real life.

So enjoy life today. Don’t try to capture it. Just live it.

One Comment

  1. I’m happy for you….I heard a message from Joyce Myers the other day that she’s not looking for a “revival” in the body of Christ…She’s looking for a “revolutionary change”. She included herself in this. I think you may have in your own way achieved this to some extent. There can often times be great peace in the eye of a storm. For me and for now that time and place is gone only in that I made the mistake of not keeping my walk by faith central in my life. Now to some extent I feel I’m just going through the motions trying to find my way back. I have internal peace none the less knowing that my eternal salvation is secure in Christ Jesus. O:o)


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