I Used to be Disorganized... Just Yesterday
by Kristina Matz
On a job interview, my future boss asked me to describe my weaknesses. I explained that I worked in what I liked to call “organized chaos”. Amazingly I still got the job, but the meaning of this term was quickly realized. I may have always known where everything was but to the unassuming passerby my desk looked like a pile of random paperwork at times. The truth is, it has always been almost painful for me to organize. Truly organize.
When I was twenty-one I moved back in with my parents for a season. They only had one bathroom and both my father and I had to get up early to go to work in the morning. My dad used to ask me at night what time I needed to be up the next morning. Seriously, these questions are simply terrifying to me! I would rather be late to work because I had to wait for the shower than calculate my schedule backward to figure out when I needed to be in the shower. It honestly feels like my brain freezes. In my flesh, this is a truly painful procedure for me.
I share these two stories (we’re really just scratching the surface here, though!) in case you see yourself in them. If you don’t, I imagine you’ve already stopped reading this post because you are incredibly productive and wouldn’t waste your time. But if you’re still reading, I have some hope to offer!
Make Friends With Organized PeopleThe truth is, I am never going to magically become organized. Being organized is a discipline and, like all other disciplines, must be worked at. For some people there seems to be less of a need for that, but I don’t believe that’s true. There are people, however, that are more inclined to it. So, while they still work tremendously hard to be organized, they actually find joy in it while I find sheer terror and panic at times. Those of us who would rather nap through our messes than fix them need to find the people that seem to have been made for order.
[Side note: We were all made for order. 1 Corinthians 14:33 tells us that God is not a God of confusion, but of peace… or order. And any good read of the OT points out God’s great effort to keep His people and their established worship orderly. God is a God of order and we were made in His image. It is why I would still rather live in a house that is orderly, even though it is so painful to order it myself!]
If we want to become more orderly and organized, we need to make friends with the orderly. I went a step further and married perhaps the more orderly person I know. Yes, I know, I’m a total overachiever. But Charlie truly is a sight to behold! His office, his side of the bedroom, even his wallet! He knows if I put his ATM card back in the wrong place! This man is an amazing example to me, but sadly for many years of our marriage I just looked at him and me as “different”. I had no real desire to become as ordered as he was. I was always tremendously grateful for it and blessed by it, but I still didn’t want to tackle my own issues. So, first, make friends with the orderly and then, make a real choice to learn from them!
Be Willing to ChangeAs people, we make excuses for our sinful flesh all the time.
“I’m just an introvert so I have a hard time evangelizing.”
“I’m just a really good storyteller so I ‘embelish’ from time to time.” And…
“It’s just my personality to be messy, I can’t help it.”
If God is a God of order and if He has set the example of living a peaceful and orderly life, then living contrary to that is a sin. Sin is simply missing the mark of God’s perfection. A messy life misses the mark big time!
And maybe you’re also like me in that you wouldn’t categorize yourself as “messy”. You could come over to my house tomorrow for a meal and I imagine you wouldn’t leave thinking I was a messy person. From a distance, I look somewhat ordered. But don’t open the drawer to my bedside table. And stay away from the back left corner of my fridge. Oh, and definitely don’t look in my band-aide/headphone/hairbrush/coaster drawer in the kitchen!
The truth is, my brain is messy. And until I work really hard to get that in order, the messes will continue to creep into cracks and corners of my practical life. Last year I was greatly impressed with the desire to become a more faithful woman. I want my yesses to be yes and my no’s to be no. By God’s grace, I would say that I am a more faithful woman today than I was last January 21st. But, sadly, not by much. Being faithful takes practical action. And while I continued to pray about this desire last year, I was simply unwilling to put feet to it. James clearly warns Christians in his epistle that any faith without works is a dead faith (James 2:20). If I don’t actually change my habits, I cannot expect to see God truly change who I am.
Enter, practical steps from super organized friends… and husbands!
Do This… NowFirst things first, we need to keep track of our time. Scripture even tells us to number our days so that we may get a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). God wants us to keep track of the time that He has given us to steward over. We can all agree that it would be beyond foolish to gain a radical inheritance of tens of thousands of dollars and then never keep track of a single penny spent. Well God has given us a wealth of time, my friends! Do we know how we are spending it? If you’re still reading this, I’m guessing that’s a pretty solid “no”. At least a “not all the time”. Neither one of those is a good answer.
In the past, I have scheduled out portions of my day. Perhaps my early morning or the time the kids and I are schooling, but it has never gone further than that. But today, my friends… Today! Last night was the first time I sat down and ordered out my ENTIRE day. And I will tell you this, today was the most repeatedly productive day I have ever had! Meaning, it wasn’t a super productive day because I uniquely found the time and my kids happened to nap longer than usual. Meaning that tomorrow, it will be just as productive. And the next day after that, too! Honestly, all four of my kids either showered or bathed today, dinner was ready at six, we had time to play games as a family after dinner, bible time was enjoyed, AND the kids were all in bed before 8:00! It seems truly shameful to look back at the previous days (years!!!) of my life as a wife and mother and wonder what the heck I was doing with that time? It was the same amount of time, right? You guys, order your day! I just downloaded a free printable schedule. Truth be told, my sweet hubby has purchased beautiful planners for me in the past and I don’t use them. I told him I wanted to prove that I could be diligent with the freebie before I trusted myself with the more costly version.
Second, plan ahead! While we need to schedule our time in the here and now, we also need to plan ahead. What can we get done ahead of time? Where do we need to add some margin to our day? For example, if you have a toddler, make sure there is time for diaper changes. Make sure you have extra time to address sibling disagreements and discipline issues. Being prepared is what keeps you calm and on track with the schedule you’ve set for yourself. And when our first attempt to plan ahead is prayer, we can be easily flexible when we do need to shift things a little this way or that way.
And finally, don’t set yourself up for disappointment. We are aiming to create a good and godly lifestyle of order and peace, not a fad. This won’t work if you view it as a Whole 30 of getting organized. The reality is that this side of heaven, there is no perfect system of order. I am still a sinful person and I still live in a sinful world with other sinful people. As good as my best efforts are, things will go sideways. Sometimes for a day and sometimes for a season. But let us always come back to our True North. May our aim still be for Christ and His glory at the end of each day. This is what is driving me, friends. I long to hear the “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
I have not instantly become an expert. On the contrary, I am only all the more aware of how incredibly far I am from that title! But I am finally taking real, tangible steps to get there. And now that I finally have a schedule to keep my kiddos clean, I can create a schedule to keep my sheets clean!
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Lack of fulfillment should be viewed as a wonderful warning alarm going off in our soul. It tells us that we have forgotten the “why” of everything that we’re doing. Or, more appropriately, the “Who”.