Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How To Find Order In The Chaos

It's in the middle of all the quiet days when I turn my attention to a task that's sat unfinished for nearly a year.

It started last fall, when life was changing, trying to re-balance itself under the weight of all that Hope.  And I couldn't keep my hands off the clutter around me because who can resist bringing order to the chaos when God's gifted a future no one ever saw coming?

So I recorded all the mess in pictures that held a thousand words, told the story of the path I'd walked in the months before a diagnosis.  And then I set to work, carved out a place for my new life--a place to breathe and rest and find a way to really live.

And I took pictures then, too, of all the progress made, and I really did make progress.  But there was one corner of space that seemed too big to handle and I might've tried my best and I might've even made it halfway up the mountain.

But that's where I stopped and that's where it stayed and that's where it's been for nearly a year.

And then the days of silence come and I can't make sense of all the chaos of a soul and all I want is to fix something, anything--bring order to what I can touch with my own two hands.  And this time I won't give up until it's finished.

It isn't easy and it isn't fast, but after weeks of work, I stand back and I know I've done what I needed.  Because somehow, what once held all those symbols of a broken, weighed down, jumbled mess of a life--it stands there now with space and beauty and peace.

Before:


After:


And I wrestle for weeks about the importance of these pictures--whether anyone really needs to see the inner workings of a daily life.  But I start to think maybe I'm not the only one who's feeling the chaos of a soul and longing for a way to find a little peace.

God, He's the only One who works out all the mess of a life, breaths order back into the places of a soul turned inside out by change and struggle and the everyday journey.  But sometimes we just need to give Him room to work, clear out a bit of chaos in the tangible corners of our lives, give ourselves an object lesson in the process of restoration.

So there's nothing earth shattering here, but I'll gladly share the little steps it took to climb this mountain of mine--and maybe, just maybe, they'll whisper Hope to a few hearts working through some chaos of their own?


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First I ask for help (something I'm still learning how to do) and it's only an afternoon later when a carpentry-savvy father finishes putting in shelves to make better use of the space on the left side of my desk.  Now it holds all the brightly-colored books I need for work, a white wooden box to corral miscellaneous cords and connections, and one over-sized plastic drawer unit for reams of paper, folders and large mailing envelopes.


On the right side of my desk, I use an adhesive-backed hook to mount the wall calendar to the white board I never use.  Then I find an incline sorter at a secondhand shop and fill it with brightly colored folders to keep open projects and paperwork close at hand.  A small metal desk organizer houses the office supplies I need often and keeps them neatly ready for use.  (And the little cat and dog?  They are squishy tools for hand exercises and stress relief.  They keep me sane while I work.)


And that center shelf that's always collected paper and junk and who-knows-what-else?  I fill it with three plastic drawer units, carefully labeled and holding everything from stationery and paperclips to software and blank discs.


Then I find a pack of cardboard storage boxes on sale for half price and choose a roll of contact paper from the kitchen aisle.  It might be a few hours of painstaking work, but I turn those plain and empty boxes into beauty-covered homes for all the files my drawers won't hold--and at the cost of only a few dollars per box.  They line the top tier of my desk, and I smile every time I look up and find them there.


I've got more music CDs than I can count, so I purchase empty sheets to hold them, find three-ring binders at the secondhand shop, and now they're all happily ordered and labeled.  Two clearance CD racks make homes for the new music I've yet to listen to, load onto the computer, and burn backup discs for the car.


And then I turn my attention to the back of this enormous desk, try to wrangle three sets of cords into some semblance of peace.  But even then, I'm left longing for beauty, so I use sticky-backed Velcro and a flat twin sheet and cover up all the things that aren't supposed to be seen anyway.

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When I've finally made order out of all the mess, I realize what I've really done is this:  Given the soul a bit of time and space to breathe and ponder and find its way back to the One Who is Peace.  And when I wonder how there'll ever be a day without the soul in upheaval, I stare long at this desk that's been torn apart and remade into something beautiful and I remember that the One Who turns the ashes into beauty has never seen a mountain He couldn't climb, a life He couldn't rescue, a soul He couldn't make into a Home.

So if your feeling a bit lost inside?  Wondering how to find Peace?  Maybe turn your hands to a little corner of the tangible world and practice what He's already doing in the soul corners you can't reach.  And just maybe you'll discover you've made room to breathe and ponder and find your way back to Peace Himself.

Grace to you, Dear Friends, in whatever state of chaos you may find yourself.  May you know He's near and active no matter the depth of your mess.

7 comments:

  1. yes, He is in the clearing, decluttering, and restacking just as much as the striving and struggling heart-work. we need these times of cleaning (sometimes inside, sometimes outside) to see the progress He has made in and around and through us...

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  2. @Rachel Schober: Thank you, Dear Friend, for seeing the God-work in my very tangible project here. I am still learning to give myself permission to find God in the unlikely places. And those little animals? My mom gave them to me and they bring a little joy to long days :o).

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  3. You inspire me, friend, both personally and with this project. My office currently does not work for me (physically/ergonomically) and we're still working through why and what to do to correct things. Seeing your project and progress encourages me.

    May God bless you more abundantly than you expect or imagine this Christmas, dearie. Grace upon grace to you in Jesus.

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  4. i'm glad you'll be able to bask in all that hard-won order as you launch into a new year. may the Lord cover you in grace this Christmas!

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  5. @tinuviel: Hooray for inspiration! I sometimes feel a bit silly posting these kinds of things, but I know I personally need inspiration in a whole variety of areas so I am very pleased to know that I've offered a bit of that to you here. I pray you'll find the strength and wisdom to finish your own project--I can assure you that "before and after" photos are quite satisfying, a much needed reminder of what we've accomplished.

    Thank you, Friend, for generous words of blessing. May He fill you to overflowing for all the pouring out into others' lives you have done this year.

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  6. @chris: Yes, the timing is excellent on this--what better way to "begin again" with a whole new year than with a clean slate at my fingertips, a clear and tangible reminder of the way God works on the insides of our lives? And, oh, He *is* covering me with Grace, every day. May you bask fully in that fountain of His, too, Friend!

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