Organization. Purging. Margin. White Space. Time Management. Minimalism. Simplifying. Downsizing.
Google any one of those words and thousands upon thousands of articles, blog links, advertisements pop up. We live in a high tech, fast paced, immediate gratification world and yet it seems all are seeking a simpler life, or ways to better manage the craziness of their life.
As a young mom, I sought to learn everything I could about managing my home, managing my time. Some came naturally to me. I like order. I don’t like a lot of stuff, so shopping and collecting are not big issues for me (well unless we are talking dishes or shoes). I am also an introvert, so staying home in lieu of a jam packed schedule didn’t feel awkward. I ran my house with my 6 month old twins like a well oiled machine and took great pride when asked ” How do you do it all?” From the outside my life looked great. It was a good life. I had healthy baby girls, a beautiful home, a wonderful husband, circle of friends through my almost daily tennis and weekly church involvement… The truth however was that I was burning the candle at both ends. I was quick to snap at my girls, get frustrated when they didn’t sleep as the schedule dictated. The smallest interruption always felt like a huge disruption. I was hard on myself and hard on my husband.
One day as my frustration had mounted, frustration with myself, I was struck by the fact that I was spinning my wheels trying to be organized-be efficient. I was juggling all the balls and squeezing it all in, but at what price. Being efficient was not creating the life I longed for. God took me back to Proverbs 31, that woman we love to hate and long to be like. As I read the passages again, God invited me to really get to know the lady, to look beyond the scripture as a litany or to do list and look at the impact of one woman’s life. In those moments my whole view of organization changed. I no longer wanted to be the most efficient. Efficiency was replaced with a desire to be effective. I wanted to live an orderly life so God could use me to impact my girls, their friends, my friends, our neighbors. I didn’t want to be known for what I could get done in a day, I wanted to be known for having time to invest in others. I wanted to see interruptions as opportunities to be the hands and feet of Christ. I wanted our excess to bless others, whether it was purging to pass on, or shopping for others instead of ourselves.
Organization and efficiency are the world’s ways. There is no such thing as being organized. There is however a way to live a disciplined life that brings order and affords you the time and space in which to serve others. Striving to be organized leads to fatigue and frustration. Striving to be organized means being captive to our things, our schedules, our work. That is not God’s design. His design is that we live free, free to serve Him, free from the confines of stuff and schedules.
I still fall prey to the world’s call to be organized. I even make a living helping others get their stuff organized. However, I seek to approach every day asking myself if the purging, the sorting, the stacking, the time blocking is my attempt to control an unruly life, one I no longer really manage, or is it to afford me the opportunity to bless another person, invest in another person. I am not interested in the pursuit of efficiency unless it helps me be effective.