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Organized Chaos

“I need to clean those pencil marks off the wall,” I said to myself the other day as I sat in my favorite blue chair. So I got up and walked to the kitchen to get an eraser.

“I should probably get a drink of water while I’m here. I know I haven’t had enough water today…or in the last decade. How have I not died of thirst yet?” I grabbed a cup out of the cupboard and headed to the water dispenser in the fridge.

“Ouch! Agh-stupid lego. I told the kids if I found any more legos on the floor they were going into the trash so here it goes.” I opened the lid to the trash can.

“Yikes, no trash bag. Better put one in before someone dumps something gross in the bottom of the can.” I set my cup and the offending lego on the kitchen counter and grabbed a trash bag.

“Oh no! I forgot to move that load into the dryer! I hope it hasn’t already soured! I better do that right now. “ I tossed the lego in the trash and ran (ok quickly walked) to the laundry room. Relieved that no sour smells seemed to be emanating from my damp, bath towels, I threw them in the dryer and walked back to the kitchen.

“What was I doing before…Oh right, water.” I grabbed my cup off the counter filled it with water and chugged. “There. I’m hydrated.”

“MOM!!!! She won’t give me my dragon!!!!” Sigh. Time to play referee.

Several apologies and negotiations later I plopped back into my favorite blue chair feeling a little unsettled.

“Seems like there was something else…Dang it! The pencil marks on the wall.” I got up and went back to the kitchen.

This is just a glimpse of the daily wandering of my mind and body as I care for my husband, four children, dog, turtle and all of the various habitats, feeding schedules. and clean up that must be done for them. There is always something that needs to be done that leads to something else that needs to be done that leads to something else and NEVER ENDS! Some days I run from one room of the house to the other panting and sweating doing a million little things and at the end of the day I look around at the disaster that is still left.

Did I get anything done? No. But I worked so hard! Then I am overcome by shame and guilt and wonder if I am destined to forever be a failure at adulting.

Perhaps this is the curse of the disorganized. I’ve read many books and blogs on organization and orderly housekeeping and scheduling. I definitely found helpful tips that I occasionally remember to use as I frantically paddle through the rushing rapids of chaos. Setting a timer and working in one area at a time seems to be the most effective for me. Todist, Evernote and my phone calendar have tamed the madness a bit. But most times I am carried from one day to the next like a rumpled butterfly in a hurricane, grasping at flowers as I tumble by. I collect a little junk from one room and move it to the next, rush from children’s activities to the store in an attempt to make the theory of dinner a reality, and somewhere in between the to dos, must dos, and hope to someday dos, someone has a crisis, or needs a snack, and then I can’t remember where I was and what I was doing. Does this ever happen to you?

If so, allow me to encourage you and in the process encourage myself as well.

First, while working towards organizational living does make life a little more easy to navigate, not everyone is gifted that way and that’s ok. It doesn’t make you a bad or lazy person. Some people seem to be able to organize as easily as they breathe. I grew up with one of those people and am now married to one. After years of feeling like my disorganized mind was a defect, I finally learned that my mind is disorganized because it is preoccupied with thinking about a lot of other things - good things - and that is intentional and God-ordained. Studies have shown that the most creative minds are also the most disorganized. So you and I aren't disorganized, we are just really, really creative. Really. Sigh...I know, me neither. But we can be who God created us to be without shame, and that is beautiful and gives us a place to rest from our striving to be what we aren't.

Secondly, you are deeply loved and valued by God regardless of how organized your house or life is. Take a deep breath, my disheveled friend. You are loved as you are. So am I. We may not be able to find our phones at the moment, there might be ketchup soaking into the floorboard of the car and there is a smell in the pantry that should probably be dealt with ASAP, but still we are loved and have gifts and abilities that are created by God and useful for the good of others. Personally, I see how my slightly askew organizational skills really help my very organized and efficient hubby to relax and not take life so seriously all the time. It's therapeutic sometimes to sit in the chaos and appreciate the vibrant life that cannot be contained in spreadsheets and cute, chalkboard-labeled baskets.

And, if you are one of those got-it-all-together, super-organized people with a tidy home and perfectly laundered blouses, please know that you are so loved. We, who stare in confusion at drawer organizers and get overwhelmed when standing in the Container Store, envy you and your ability to appear so at ease in all of your orderly brilliance. You are loved and valued as well and have so many wonderful gifts with which to help others (my closet needs help-just in case you needed a suggestion).

How wonderful it is when we can accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses instead of competing with them! Let’s all choose to do that instead.

My prayer for us today is that we will accept ourselves and each other for whom God has created us to be. May we appreciate the many gifts God has given, and not beat the drum of our own strengths while criticizing the weaknesses of others. I pray each of us will pursue the fullness of maturity God has for us, and embrace his grace for those things we are still learning to do well.

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!                Psalm 133:1

Especially for the disorganized mind:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.     Philippians 4:8