I love order. I have lived with and by order for decades. I’ve never really thought about why, it’s just been part of me.
Order gives me the feeling of safety, normality and control. Somehow, it soothes my frustrations and dispels anxiety, well for a short while anyway. I can’t say when I first depended on order. Perhaps as a child, lining up all my dolls on the stairs, and teaching them to read and write. Or perhaps as a teenager in the role of the student ‘order police’ as School Prefect and then Head Girl. It certainly kicked in big-time at College as Deputy Chair of the Student’s Union.
Disorder. Even the word gets me bristling, alerting hidden emotions and triggering a rapid downfall. It brings an overwhelming desire to shout and stop the world; to freeze time, pause my thinking, and start a plan or strategy to tidy up the mess.
When alone, free, and living a life of choice while searching for new experiences and a future in the world, you can deal with hiccups like disorder. Once the ‘I do’ sets in, and then offspring come into your world of order, things change rapidly. Never in the way that you have planned in your head.
At first, the mundane can be ordered. Kids can be guided, taught, cajoled, threatened and ultimately punished if they don’t live by your order! Eventually, though, common sense, wisdom and maturity take over. There comes a time when the realisation that order has been your crutch in life sinks in. When you realise that you’ve crafted a nuanced version of order just for you.
I found out the hard way, what I thought was easily remedied by the constant moaning of:
‘Everything has a place’
‘When you open a drawer/cupboard, then close it afterwards’
‘Anything not in the wash basket doesn’t get washed’
‘I don’t do floor or under bed collections of dirty dishes or clothing’.
None of these worked. Lesson learned the hard way.
My ordered life back then is a source of amusement now. As I take on the role of grand-parenting, I often smile at the consequences of my past-practised ordered life.
My daughter remembers making a very definitive decision that she would NEVER clean the house on Saturdays and collective family chores would be forever off the weekend agenda! I wouldn’t call it outright rebellion against her childhood memories, just taking an independent stand in her rites of adulthood.
I’m okay with all that. I’ve learned that it was my way of feeling safe and normal, and I thank God that my children are beyond and above such behaviours.
Order can be incredibly restrictive, and when constantly in every aspect your life, it becomes a chore.
I was challenged by the dictionary meaning of ‘order’:
‘the arrangement or disposition of people or things about each other according to a particular sequence, pattern, or method.’
So that’s it then. My earlier life was based on, motivated by, and acted out, on a pattern.
Shock, horror! All these years I had the belief that I was guided and lead by the Spirit of God.
It’s not as bad as it sounds. In stark reality, I see how I have been servant to order, and how in many ways, learning to walk in faith and truth has highlighted my humanity. The fact is everyone lives an ordered life. The question is whose order? The type of order will determine whether it’s a life of blessing or just a busy life filled with the array of happiness and disasters.
God has been shouting, showing, and revealing, how ‘order’ in my life has taken me down long and often tiring paths; sometimes leading me in circles, other times into a brick wall landing me flat on my back in utter despair.
Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart. And do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognise Him,
And He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].
It’s taken me a while to listen to God, meditate his Word, and discipline myself to follow his wisdom, by taking on his order, and not my own.
It’s a humbling experience, recognising how many hours were wasted trying to order my life into perfection. How incredibly naïve and egotistical, and what a blatant manifestation of pride!
I’m totally free of order in my life now, well, free of my self-imposed order.
It’s been replaced by God’s order of ‘faith’, given daily through his Word. My part now? To listen and obey.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”