How many of us, two weeks ago, could have foreseen the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and the resulting problems with the Fukushima reactors? Or the violence in Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and Yemen? If you have even glanced at a news source lately, you may have come away with a sense that the whole world is falling apart around us.
Decorating, organizing, and recipe blog posts can seem pretty weak-sauce -- not to mention insensitive -- in the midst of such grief and chaos. Are you really going to complain that your closet is too small for all your shoes and that your spice cabinet is a mess when people are watching their homes and loved ones swept away?
But the thing is, those have NEVER been topics to build a life on. Even on "quiet" news days, our hearts weren't designed to grow and thrive on a diet of materialism.
Creative and joyful homekeeping and crafting is a great blessing, and a delight for women to share with each other, but it has never been the main thing, and it has never been enough, for anyone, anywhere.
We are spiritual creatures, made to worship a living God.
Isaiah 46:5-7 gives some sharp, almost sarcastic imagery of people worshipping idols instead of God:
To whom will you liken me and make me equal,
and compare me, that we may be alike?
Those who lavish gold from the purse,
and weigh out silver in the scales,
hire a goldsmith,
and he makes it into a god;
then they fall down and worship!
They lift it to their shoulders,
they carry it, they set it in its place, and it stands there;
it cannot move from its place.
If one cries to it, it does not answer or save him from his trouble.
(Isaiah 46:5-7 ESV)
Then they fall down and worship! They create a god themselves, and then they fall down and worship it. How dumb it is to worship created things rather than the creator Himself. Will our etsy purchases answer us or save us from our troubles? Will our foolproof organizational methods come to our rescue when our house floats out to sea? Will our super duper recipes nourish us when we have lost our loved ones?
No, they will not.
But although I know this to be true, I find my heart having idols big and small all the time. I make things that God never intended to be ultimate, ultimate.
Imagine my surprise this week when I read a review for a new book about organization that treats disorganization not as a problem requiring a new system in place, but rather as a problem of idolatry. Yep. You read that right: disorganization as a heart issue, a sin issue, and an idol.
I downloaded The Organized Heart: A Woman's Guide to Conquering Chaos by Staci Eastin onto my Kindle as quickly as you can say "this idea sounds disconcerting but rings true and I must read more", and read the whole book in a couple hours. I found the author to be very transparent about her own struggle with organization, winsome in her writing style, and solid in her knowledge of God.
It kind of smacked me in the head. I know I am frequently talking about books just "smacking me in the head", but honestly, that is often the reaction I have to books (or friends) that speak Biblical truth to me in a new way. I kind of get knocked over. It's because I tend to make everything a lot more complicated than it actually is, and when people cut to the chase and say, here's the problem and here's the solution, kablooey, just like that, it always flabbergasts me.
(I am pretty sure that's the first time I've used the word "flabbergasts" in suziebeezieland. I was so embarrassed by that word when I was a little girl, because it sounded like a mixture of "flubber" and "blabber" and "gas". I totally remember the first time I ever learned it, too. We had those Sally, Dick and Jane readers in school, and Sally was doing a handstand, and Father was flabbergasted that she knew how to do one.)
I've been so unhappy lately about my busy schedule and my time management (lately = forever), and actually, my disorganized head has been a grievance to me my whole long life. And this book was extremely convicting, and very good.
The author says,
This book will be different than any other book on organization that you've probably read. I have no schedule to offer you, I won't tell you what day to mop the kitchen floor, and you don't need to buy a timer. Your standards for an organized home and a reasonable schedule will vary with your personality, season of life, and the needs and preferences of your family.
What I hope to do is to help you examine your heart and discover things that may be hindering your walk with God. My goal is not necessarily for you to have a cleaner home or a more manageable schedule -- although I certainly hope that is the case. Rather, my hope for this book is that it will help you serve God and your family more effectively, more fruitfully, and with greater peace and joy.
As I read it, I felt like the author had been spying on my own life:
The disorganization in my life was not due to lack of knowledge or skill and it was not due to a problem in my childhood. Rather, it's a broken belief system: a heart issue, a sin issue. At the end of the day, it's idolatry.
That may sound awfully harsh. You want this book to help you organize your life, not lay more guilt and shame at your feet. Being disorganized may be unhandy, but it's just your personality, right? It's certainly not a sin.
Or is it? Disorganization steals your joy. It causes you to go through your life frazzled and stressed. It causes friction with your husband and makes you snap at your children. It makes you perform ministry tasks grudgingly. It prevents you from developing friendships, because you're always rushing from one task to the next. You don't feel like you're doing anything well, let alone to the glory of God.
Hey, how did she know? And I am willing to bet money that if this sounds to me a whole lot like me, it sounds to at least one of you a whole lot like you.
If you would like to win a copy of The Organized Heart: A Woman's Guide to Conquering Chaos by Staci Eastin, please sign up here in comments by midnight Pacific Daylight Time on Tuesday, March 22. I'll announce the winner next week, and the book will ship to you direct from Amazon.com.
Here is the official Amazon description of the book, which is from Cruciform Press:
Disorganized? You don’t need more rules, the latest technique, or a new gadget. The fight against chaos is universal, whether it be the outward chaos of disorder and frenzy or the inward chaos of fear and self-criticism. Even if we already know how to do better, something falls apart between our good intentions and getting it done. Most books on organization just add more rules to your life, whether it be another plan, another calendar, or another method.
This book will show you a different, better way that is grounded in the grace of God. The Organized Heart focuses on four areas of common difficulty for women: Perfectionism, Busyness, Possessions, and Leisure.
Jesus taught that true change doesn’t come by the addition of more rules, but from the inside out, with a change of the heart that only the gospel can bring. When you identify the heart problems behind the chaos in your life, lasting change can happen. This will not only reduce the stress in your life, but help you be more effective in your service to God.