Peace in the Clutter

Clutter use to drive me insane.

To be honest, I still have to work on this sometimes. I like things to be neat and tidy but have learned to let go of things better than before. Yes, a clear kitchen counter makes me so happy, but I’m learning it’s okay for my house to look like we actually live here. I’m learning that success in life isn’t measured by how perfectly maintained my house is or if I got every-single-thing marked off my to-do list. I’m finally learning to chill a *little* and I think I know why. I’m learning to put the big rocks in first.

If that sentence about rocks confuses you, you can go back and listen to this “5 Minutes to Freedom” video I did a couple of weeks ago where I explain the “rock story’ in depth. But the short of it is, start with the most important things first when learning to manage your time.

But that’s not what I want to focus on today. What I wanted to share with you is what I learned about myself after taking a deep look inward on why I was so drawn to focus on the little rocks, little projects, little time consuming things in my life.

I use to frantically purge and clean my home as my only way of “feeling” productive and in control when so many other things felt out of my control. I focused on the small things like clean baseboards, perfectly organized utensil drawers, and never letting laundry get behind. All these things gave me heart the short-lived feeling of completeness; the feeling of worth. Working my fingers to the bone was the only way I felt like I had worked “hard enough,” and I couldn’t imagine sitting down on the couch at night unless everything was done.

My joy and peace rose and fell based on my perception of, “Had I accomplished it “all?”

Fast forward a few years. Add one child, then another, and then another. Throw in a husband whose work load required 50+ hours a week which left all things involving our home and kids on my shoulders. My health was suffering. Our marriage was suffering. So many things were not right. But it felt like all those things were out of my control, so I focused on what I did have control over- my to-do list.

I thought if I could just “get it all done” stress could leave and somehow my to-do list had the power to fix relationships. This is a lie perfectionists don’t realize they believe.”

Now, I’ve always thought of myself as a good time manager; remember I didn’t rest until all work was done. I thought managing time meant finding a way to get it “all” done, and it felt like my world was crashing because the things on my list of “all” kept getting longer and longer. I thought if I could just “get it all done” stress could leave and somehow my to-do list had the power to fix relationships. This is a lie perfectionists don’t realize they believe.

One day, one of my pastors mentioned in passing that she doesn’t try to get it “all” done. I was shocked at the irresponsibility of her statement. She was a pastor for crying out loud! Surely people depended on her to get it “all” done. But I kept listening. Instead, she prays for the Lord to help her get the right things done. Whoa! This was a completely new concept for me. You mean, you can be successful, pastor hundreds of people, be a great wife and mom, teach Bible classes and are allowed to not get it “all” done.

I chewed on her words for a long time. She had gone on to explain that getting it all done was a myth and, in order for you to obtain God’s idea of success (which is really obedience to do what HE called you to do…not what you called you to do…ouch), you would have to let go of some things by asking God what were His priorities for your life.

Her wisdom has stuck with me for years and I’ve had to come back to it many times. I pull back and reevaluate, on a regular basis, what I’m putting my time into and make sure I’m focusing on what God says is important. The rest can get done another time or by another person.

My family is my first ministry. What good is it if I reach others while ignoring the ones within my own walls?”

For me, the “big rocks” in my life are my husband, my kids, my ministry to women, and growing Clothe Our Kids. Those are the things God has entrusted to me. My family is my first ministry. What good is it if I reach others while ignoring the ones within my own walls? No one else can be my kids’ mom or my husband’s wife. It’s no one else’s place to fight for them, cry with them, cheer them on, and run alongside them.

Likewise, no one else can do exactly the ministry I do with women or lead Clothe Our Kids in this season. Just like no one can do exactly what you’re called to do. Sure, maybe others can do the same kind of job but not the way you would do it with the specific giftings He has put in you.

Other “big rocks” in my life involved me facing the issues in my marriage, life and personal hurts and unforgiveness in my own heart. These were things I had stuffed and ignored in hope they would resolve themselves. Funny thing about things we ignore is that they grow! It’s easier to load the dishwasher than let God talk to you about forgiveness. It’s easier to sweep, mop, and dust than work on a failing relationship. At least in the short-run it feels easier. But if you want to get to the next thing thing God has for you, He will require you to process though those big things.

Fast forward to a couple of weekends ago after I got home from a ministry trip. I had preached everything in my heart, ministered freedom to women, and heard their stories of redemption. It had been an amazing weekend of focusing on one of the “big rocks” I get to do. That following Monday morning the house was a mess, suitcases needed to be unpacked, and my to-do list for the week started swirling in my head. That’s when I noticed something different. Instead of having feelings of dread and stress rise in my heart, I felt a sense of contentment and peace. I realized that, because I’ve learned to put the big rocks in first, the little rocks have stopped bothering me so much. Instead of spinning my wheels with the things that won’t matter tomorrow or in eternity, I’ve asked God to show me the things that will- then I do those things. It’s amazing the sense of peace in my heart when I’m focusing on the “big rocks.”

I believe God wants to enlarge your circle of influence and open doors for your next steps. You may have even seen things in your heart and feel frustrated that you’re not there yet. I would encourage you to take the time to ask Him what your “big rocks” should be in this season. Then willingly do the work necessary to work through those things. Peace is waiting for you.