Kairos

“Kairos. Real time. God’s time. That time which breaks through chronos with a shock of joy, that time we do not recognize while we are experiencing it, but only afterwards, because kairos has nothing to do with chronological time. In kairos we are completely unselfconscious, and yet paradoxically far more real than we can ever be when we are constantly checking our watches for chronological time…In kairos we become what we are called to be as human beings, co-creators with God, touching on the wonder of creation.” -Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

There are some realizations that come upon you suddenly, but looking back you realize they’ve been dancing around the edges of your consciousness for quite some time.

For me, the realization that I wanted to focus on the word kairos in 2017 was just such a realization. I’m not sure exactly when it was, maybe while sitting on the dock in South Carolina watching the dolphins, but I suddenly knew that so much of what I had been learning in 2016 culminated in one word – kairos.  

2016 was a year of painful change and working with God to wrestle my heart to new places of freedom…over and over and over again.

And in the midst of the wrestling, the agonizing over my identity, the pain of rejection, the wondering what my life was really all about, God re-introduced me to the word kairos (for which you’ve just read my favorite definition at the top of this post).

On an unsuspecting Saturday in September, with a “shock of joy,” I stumbled upon an album called Kairos by the artist Jae Jin. Listening through it, I felt like I was outside of time, in another dimension, a holy place where God could touch the deepest parts of my heart and start to stir up healing. The definition of kairos and the title of the album didn’t click in my mind for awhile, but when I finally realized that I was experiencing kairos while to listening to an album entitled Kairos, I couldn’t help but laugh.

Then I started reading the book “I Don’t Wait Anymore” by Grace Thornton, and I suddenly had words to put to the subconscious frustrations I’d been having with feeling like my life was “stuck” in chronos, chronological time. Grace talked about how living life as a single person (whose life has not gone the way she thought it would – in her case not married yet and no kids) often does not have the same markers of chronological time as, perhaps, the life of a married person with a family (who has anniversaries, children’s birthdays, and the like to act as markers).

Once Grace’s words helped me to diagnose exactly what I was feeling, I was able to start processing my perceived “stuckness” with God. What he helped me to realize is that I was NOT stuck in chronos but rather living in kairos, in God’s time. It doesn’t matter if chronological time seems to be stopped for me, because God’s plans for my life exist in kairos.

Viewing my life through the lens of chronos brings disappointment, because that perspective fires questions at me with machine gun speed, “Shouldn’t you be married by now?” “Shouldn’t you have recorded another album and be touring by now?” “Shouldn’t you own a house by now?” “Shouldn’t you have more money by now?” “Shouldn’t you know what you’re doing by now?” The questions of chronos cause only second guessing, anxiety, and fear, diverting my attention and affection away from Jesus.

But when I silence the questions, and simply focus my mind on Jesus, asking to know more of who he is, and who I am because of him, it’s easy to slip into kairos. When I take the time to listen and discover that I have barely begun to understand who my Creator is and the depth of his outrageous love for me, I’m completely oblivious to second hands and minutes and months – I AM FREE. In kairos, God reminds me that HE is the one who is writing the story of my life, and IT IS GOOD. The questions don’t matter, because it is in HIM that I live and move and have my being, not chronos. As long as I am following him, living in kairos, everything will be as it should be. Everything will be alright.

So, here I am at the start of another chronological year, still feeling the reasonable and seductive pull of all of chronos’ questions, tempting me to believe I am solely in control. But I choose kairos instead, choose to free fall into living and moving and having my being in my Creator, where I can breathe easy and walk freely in his love. And I am so excited.

Late Night Lo Fi Living Room Video

IMG_8458Enjoyed pulling my guitar out tonight and taking it for a whirl. Spontaneously decided to learn this cover and put it out there for the world, well, really for my sister. It’s been far too long since I made music, and this did my heart good. Enjoy!

 

Hero by Family of the Year

Bothered About Originality

bothered about originality. artist: Jenny Baird

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” -C.S. Lewis

I hope C.S. Lewis is right. Because, I had the realization last night that I care more about being authentic than I do about being creative. Although I would love to be a “brilliant” artist, whose work is original, groundbreaking, and influential, I just don’t know that it’s going to happen. I’m not Debussy (whose teacher told him he couldn’t use chords with the ninth interval in them for his compositions – which Debussy did – that only geniuses could accomplish that), or G-Dragon (who writes a song and has the entire performance/stage design/music video concept already in his head), or Ryan Tedder (who’s written and produced for practically everyone on the planet; ok, the list might not be quite that long, but still). I don’t think the most outside the box of anyone I know, and am constantly astounded by artists who do things I would never think to do.

On one hand, that can be discouraging, because I think, “Man, I probably won’t leave a serious artistic mark the way these people do.” I mean, it’s sort of a bummer, as an artist, to think that you might not have quite as much artistic greatness in you as you hope.

On the other hand, it throws into sharp relief that which really matters. Madeleine L’Engle gets right to the heart of what I believe about being an artist in her book, Walking on Water, and it guides me as I think about creativity. She says this about artists, “For an artist is not a consumer, as our commercials urge us to be. An artist is a nourisher and a creator who knows that during the act of creation there is collaboration. We do not create alone…We are to be in this world as healers, as listeners, and as servants.”  And again, “ Art is communication, and if there is no communication it is as though the work had been still-born…So there is no evading the fact that the artist yearns for ‘success,’ because that means that there has been a communication of the vision: that all the struggle has not been invalid.”

And I realize. At the end of the day, what I really care about is that my art communicates, and serves its listeners, aids their healing and growth and nourishment, the way so many other artists’ work has done for me. What I really care about is putting something out there that is, at its core, true and real.

Now, that’s not to say that I don’t try to get out of my normal creative confines, and expand myself as an artist. Try things I normally wouldn’t try. Look for ways to be different than what’s already out there, different than what I’ve done in the past. But the bottom line is this, I don’t want to create art that is “out of the box” or “creative” (but that doesn’t resonate within my own heart) simply because I want to be considered innovative – I believe this would inevitably produce art that may look creative at the outset, but would fall flat with anyone who interacts with it. What a dreadful thought.

So, without copping out in my pursuit of growth and excellence in my own art, I find myself coming to terms with my strengths and weaknesses as an artist, surrendering to the fact that major artistic impact won’t, perhaps, be in my future, but feeling wholly compelled by the fact that impact of a different sort may very well be beckoning.

Side note: It occurs to me that some of the artists I listed have whole TEAMS of people around them, helping to shape them, collaborating with them, and pushing forward a decided upon vision. So maybe I shouldn’t be too discouraged by my own perceived lack of creativity as a sole person. Maybe the brilliance of G-Dragon and Ryan Tedder are a testament to collaboration and the sum of the parts? Or maybe they really are prodigies; somebody’s got to be. Maybe I’ll get to meet these guys someday and ask them. *keep dreaming Jenn*

 

I Hope I’m Not Famous

I Hope I'm Not FamousI was walking down the hallway at church with an enormous bouquet of roses when Pete Radke stopped me and said excitedly, “Who gave you those?” I cheerfully informed him that I was simply the delivery girl; the roses were from my parents for someone else, and I was on my way to the recipient. He promptly said, jokingly, “Oh you shouldn’t tell people that, you look so impressive carrying them,” like it was a huge let down that someone had not just madly confessed their love for me with a huge wad of flowers. We both laughed and went on our ways, and I’ll never forget that funny moment and those “impressive” roses.

I was acquainted with Pete through his wife, Michelle (she and I sing on worship team together at church). Whenever I saw him at  Radke Familychurch on the weekends, his demeanor was always just like his picture (over there on the right), a warm smile and a genuine interest in how your life was going.

Pete gave his life last weekend, helping to rescue someone at Lake Erie (read the full story), and yesterday, I went to his funeral. And it was huge. Some 1500 people came to the calling hours, and probably around 600-700 attended the funeral. I had the privilege of singing as part of the vocal choir for his funeral, and standing on stage looking out at the jam-packed auditorium was stunning. I was floored at the impact Pete had on his world with only 43 short years of life.

After the funeral, I was talking to a couple guys who played in the worship band for the funeral, and we all agreed that other people’s funerals make us wonder about our own. Who will come? What will they say about us? What will be the measure of our life when it’s all said and done?

Pete measured his life and success by whether it was significant or not, and seeing a room jam-packed with people who had been personally impacted by him made me realize what I want my own funeral to be like someday.

As an artist, as a singer, as someone hoping for a career in music, in performing, it is natural to dream about singing for stadiums filled with people, and to get really excited when someone says they love watching you on stage, or they really connected to a song you wrote, and so on. Of course my pipe dream is to “hit it big” and sing for stadiums filled with people around the world, and win awards, and be considered an influential artist for my time. I DO hope people will hear my songs and connect to them and be served by them (because in my mind, my art is not fully alive if it doesn’t communicate with and nourish people).

And while I’m not saying that fame and personal impact are mutually exclusive, I hope I’m not famous – or at least not only famous. I hope that at the end of my life, on the day after I take my last breath, and they do with my body whatever they must, that people don’t come to my funeral because they heard my songs or saw me on a stage or admired me from a distance. I hope my funeral is like Pete’s funeral, and people come because I had a personal impact on their life, because they knew me and I knew them, and they felt loved by me, and loved by Jesus because of me.

And lest I do Pete’s life a grave disservice, I simply must mention his faith. Pete loved & followed Jesus, was loved by Jesus, and was able to have the impact he did because every day, he gave away the love that Jesus had given him– to his family, friends, co-workers, church family and eventually the stranger he helped to rescue on Lake Erie.

That is what I want my life to be about and my funeral to measure up to – the full and wonderful significance of being loved by Jesus and giving that love away.