Hubris and Hamilton

I have angry cleaning music. Anybody else? Just me?

Matt is a great guy, husband of the year material. He helps clean because a tidy home matters to him and cleaning isn’t my forte. He would rather I put more energy into homeschool and cooking, things he values but doesn’t do himself. I tidy as I can throughout the week, but there’s a backlog and buildup we hav to work through together come Saturday.

When we clean, he says: “look at all this mess. It’s so frustrating.”

I hear: “If you cleaned more, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

There have been so many arguments and tears and long, long talks about this misunderstanding. My head knows his position, but my cleaning self cannot be trusted to remember.

So, headphones and Hamilton.

It’s such a rich story, action-packed and always moving. My favorite moments are getting inside of characters’ heads, like Washington about his fears or Angelica about her regret over Alexander.

But the one that always sticks with me the longest is during the song Hurricane. Before hatching a plot to publish his own account of his love affair, Alexander recounts how his writing has gotten him where he is:

I wrote Eliza love letters until she fell
I wrote about The Constitution and defended it well
And in the face of ignorance and resistance
I wrote financial systems into existence

In this moment, I always get chills. Think about it: our nation’s entire financial system was built by a poor, largely self-taught immigrant. The backbone that made room for the expansion and innovations that followed throughout American history were birthed into being by one man and his brain.

My mind races to the many other things that humans have created, the way that we are able to manipulate our environments, rearrange, and invent things that didn’t exist before. It’s a reminder that we are made in the image of a God who can speak–just speak–anything into existence.

But in the instant that I’m marveling in how God would share such an ability with such lowly creatures as us, this happens:

And when my prayers to God were met with indifference
I picked up a pen, I wrote my own deliverance

I know it’s coming, but the hubris shocks me every time. The rest of the play shows that Hamilton, ultimately, couldn’t write his own deliverance. No one can.

(Note: I saw a YouTube comment once that broke down the show’s two halves as, pardon my French, 1. “F*** yeah, Hamilton!” and 2. “Yeah…f*** Hamilton.” I nearly died of laughter; it’s the most succinct TL;DR synopsis possible.)

Once upon a time, I did a lot of public speaking, and I was pretty good. It was weird to come in second place in speech meets, and I had no problem getting up in front of a packed room.

Something shifted when I heard the gospel. It’s like God shut my mouth. Maybe that’s blasphemous, but that’s how it has felt. I get so nervous that I shake and want to cry–and my voice makes that clear. And the amount of sweat that pours out of me is impressively disgusting.

But increasingly, I’m remembering cringeworthy moments when I shouldn’t have spoken. When I wasn’t prepared or overstepped in pride. And I’m starting to see that God shutting me up has been for my good.

I miss it, though. Choosing the right words, playing with pacing to make the biggest impact, practicing so that the words seep deeper and deeper into memory. I miss the rush of butterflies and the satisfaction when you know a performance is going well.

I’m hopeful that I’ve eaten enough humble pie to (eventually) be made useful again with my mouth. But even if that isn’t the case, I’m glad for the humbling–that it’s been quiet, a gentle chastening, with no hip hop or early morning duels required.

Published by MK Jorgenson

Thinking, writing, and talking about Christian stewardship in all of its facets.

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