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May 2, 2008

The Peaceful Life

Lately, I've been reflecting on the topic of "organization" - living an orderly, well-managed life in every respect. Organization is something that's never been easy for me. I should say, it's something that's never been for me. I go from day to day "reinventing the wheel" so to speak - always trying to discover the best way to keep up with myself and the things I have to accomplish as a busy mom, housewife, ministry leader, freelancer, homeschooler, cook, laundry maid, and whatever else I'm sure I've forgotten.

While I constantly deal with my "management-challenged" lifestyle, I also combat the desire for complete perfection in all aspects of my life at all times. So that makes me a disorganized perfectionist. I suppose this could explain a lot of my troubles.

So here's how I've always handled myself. Once the messy life gets too stressful, I muster up my will-power and courage and attack everything at once: schedule, paperwork, housework. I work tirelessly until everything is completely?.perfect.

And then, three days later, I need to do the whole thing again. Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. Cause it's tiring, and it always needs to be done again! If I could have my perfect life, everything would be done perfectly all the time. The fact that this work needs continual doing - so in a sense, never reaching finality or perfection - just drives me crazy. I just don't know how anyone lives out well-managed days without taking years off their life from the stress of it all.

But oddly enough, the people that I know or that I've read about who live out the organized life don't look like they're stressing or struggling. They look peaceful and? sane. So what are they doing that I'm not? Or what do they know that I'm missing out on?

Wisdom and faithfulness. It's faithfulness in practicing wisdom that separates the peaceful, well-ordered life from the tiring, chaotic one.

Proverbs 3:13;16 says this about wisdom: "Blessed is the [wo]man who finds wisdom, the [wo]man who gains understanding? [Wisdom's] ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace." That's definitely what I need. But it's not enough to be "wise" once a week. Another ingredient in staying organized and truly finding peace is faithfulness.

Faithfulness: a word that God repeatedly associates with his own character. Psalm 119:89-91 says this: "Your word, O Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; you established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you." Everything God does is done faithfully. He is faithfulness because he is eternal. Being like him, even in the daily grind, is the surest path I can take to the truly peaceful and fruitful life I'm looking for.

So it's not just doing something correctly once, or even every once in a while. In fact, that's only been the mark of my foolishness. I take the same ineffective measures in the hopes of creating lasting change, but in the end I accomplish nothing. It's doing what's right consistently - day in and day out - that will lead me to peace.

So what am I going to do now? I'm going to start by rejoicing that the things I need are already mine in Christ. Faithfulness is a gift through God's Spirit in me (Galatians 5:22). Wisdom is something that God gives freely to those who are seeking it and ask Him for it (Proverbs 3:13; James 1:5). Instead of reinventing the wheel every several days and driving myself crazy with disorder, I'm going to try something new: apply each piece of wisdom I receive as faithfully as I can. And I'll watch my life change, one day at a time.

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Well, you just described me perfectly! It was a challenge to accept that my perfectionist tendencies led to the chaos that is my house and my schedule - but it's true!

Today, my day 'off', I am committed to clean and organize my home. It's a daunting task, but I keep telling myself, "One thing at a time". This post is a good reminder to pull it all under God's leadership and aim for a little wisdom application...


Wow, this probably gets to a lot of ladies looking into this blog. It has been MY life for ever so long. I have found it perplexing too because I know that I am a very organized person in many ways. I am an organizer, even a starter of new ministries but my personal life is or has been, quite a delima for me to figure out.
So being at least intellectually in agreement that I am to be a good keeper at home, according to the Word, and that cleanliness is next to Godliness, (I know that isn't in the Word but it sounds right to me) I began asking the Lord "why do I refuse to do what I know I need to do?" Some interesting things began to unfold to my understanding. I know that most women reading this will not be able to relate with this reason; some will.
I always wanted a home. I came from a home with a broken relationship. I wanted to be married, to have a lot of children and to have a husband that I adored. Well, I got those things; but there was a problem. He didn't want responsibility, he wanted to hang out with the boys, although he did work everyday, his every night was given to the bluegrass band. Needless to say the relationship was not successful and ended after 23 years. During those years there was sickness in the family, the death of a son, physical abuse and I had to work a full time job as well, the shopping the cleaning, plus the doctor and dental visits, everything; all the while trying to find a housekeeping schedule that would work. It didn't happen, there are after all only 1440 minutes in a 24 hour day. Now, these years later, I find that when I begin to clean my house, it is difficult because I associate it with the pain and failure of the past. So I've been busy retraining my mind, disassociating my desire for order in my home from my past failure. We are afterall a new being every so many years. I am sorry about my life as it was and that I did not have the home and family life I desired but this is a new time. No hubby, not since then but I am important and the Lord is important and since the Lord hangs out here, I think I can do it! Things are shaping up.

Thanks for being vulnerable. I can totally relate. Being widowed 3 years and in ministry, it is easy to think I can keep going at the same speed. I've repeated the same pattern you have. Lately I've been chewing on what this pattern models to the young moms...let alone the rest of women. Is there a "pride" in our being able to do all these things (and the attitude that we think we 'can' if we manage things right)? I come back to the realization that we are too busy; plain and simple. I appreciate how you brought in faithfulness. I would bring in the word 'obedience.' I Sam 15:22b, "I desire obedience not sacrifice..." But, Lord, aren't all these 'good' things sacrificial? The Great Commission says ...and teach them to OBEY all that I commanded... I am put in my place and am learning to focus, too, on those bits of wisdom...or obedience issues that I can truly that in the end I am only doing that which I CAN manage; knowing the Lord is in control and those are the things HE gave me to do for Him.

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