My position as MOM has been dramatically challenged by the position of GATEKEEPER OF STUFF.
“Mom! Have you seen my book?”
“Mom, I can’t find my uniform?”
“The teacher said I didn’t turn in the permission slip.”
“Mom! I am out of socks.” (shampoo, bread, peanut butter….)
There is an overwhelming amount of stuff coming into our home EVERY SINGLE DAY and all of the stuff just adds chaos to my life. I want to enjoy things and I want to feel peaceful but I'm so stressed out by all the things I need to take care of and put away that I am unable to rest. I understand it's important to empower the kids to help, but if I don't know where it all goes, how can they help me put it away??
The best visual I can give you is for you to imagine you've spent a few hours cleaning your house. You sit down to relax. Out of the blue, you get a phone call from someone you love and respect and you walk out of the room to talk somewhere privately. After talking for a bit, your friend says they'll be over in 30 minutes for a quick cup of coffee. You squeal with delight and hang up the phone. You look around your house that was clean an hour ago, your jaw drops, and then you call the family to action. For the next 30 minutes, you shout orders for things to get tucked away and hidden, only to be re-discovered after your company leaves.
Can I be the only one that feels this way?
I read an article this week in the Boston Globe that confirmed I am not only one in this struggle. The American family is facing a clutter crisis and that crisis is resulting in chaos. Our homes, our spaces, our garages, and our vehicles are full of stuff. Stuff we feel is important. Stuff we feel we need. Stuff our kids beg us for but rarely use. I have lost my space. I have lost my quiet moments of peace. Instead, I have replaced my space for stuff.
If you came into my home today, you would probably disagree with my assessment of our home. My space is clean and organized. (At least the part I let you see!) Most of this battle starts in the space between my ears. My mind sees clutter and stuff and I am unable to rest or settle until it is put away. This cycle of busyness prevents me from engaging in things that matter. Yes, it is good to be organized, but not at the expense of doing things that God purposes for me in my day.
How can I write with dishes in the sink?
Don’t laugh! I am serious.
How can I meet with someone and engage with them, if all I can see are the toys strewn all over my floor?
This is my battle with stuff. It steals my peace. It steals my joy. The stuff isn’t evil…the overabundance of it is.
Yesterday, God spoke to me about my battle with chaos. I have started to get angry and resent the things in my life. I could clean and sort all day, only to have the world cluttered again when the family returns. I won't even mention how I feel at the end of a long weekend. My priorities in the battle started to shift and in my mother’s heart…I have been frustrated to what I have been reduced to in order to keep my own sanity.
GATEKEEPER OF STUFF, YELLER ABOUT STUFF, DECIDER OF HOW ONE USES STUFF, WHO USES STUFF WHEN, ORGANIZER OF STUFF, SORTER OF STUFF, HIDER OF STUFF
In a message I watched yesterday, Pastor Chris Hodges said in every pagan culture, there is disorder and chaos. As I was listening to this message, I started thinking about the article I read earlier that morning about clutter and how it related to the stress levels of the American family. Possessions are preventing us from enjoying our lives. It all clicked for me. Chaos comes into my home through an overabundance of stuff.
The enemy of my soul is so sneaky! My commitment to Jesus is firm. My relationships with my husband, my children, and my friends are healthy and strong, but there are times I feel an anxiousness. I struggled with this feeling all summer. I couldn’t put my finger on why it was difficult for me to relax when my kids were home when I love them being here. I felt the chaos creeping up on me and it steals from me.
Often I feel the need to purge the house, the garage, the closets. I have been known to tell my husband, "I don't care, just throw it out!" There have been times I have tossed everything, only later to find out I threw out something valuable. My husband is a very gracious man.
I am a minimalist living in an abundance of possessions. I have to clean before I read my Bible. I have to pick up before I can eat breakfast. I have to put away clothes before I can take a shower.
I have been tasked with managing our family’s chaos…and I resent it because I wasn’t designed to manage chaos, I was designed to live in peace.
*This is where you take a deep breath and realize that you are not losing your mind. You love your kids and your family…you just were not designed to be the Gatekeeper of Stuff.
After I had my "Come to Jesus Moment," I got up with renewed vision and hope for sorting through the stuff; where it needed to go and who it needed to be donated to.
Today is a new day. I have paper piles to organize, mail to toss, and toys to sort. I know if I am faithful to clear my space and create an atmosphere of peace, my entire family will benefit. For me, it is a renewed peace that comes after God directs my steps and gives me wisdom to clearly see how to give him more creative space in my home and in my heart.
Next time chaos comes calling...I'm sending it packing.
Living Completely Undone
This past weekend, I told my story to women who knew me less than 48 hours. I don't often tell people about my psych ward encounter because it seems so far removed from my current life. It is easy to forget how much God has done and how his miraculous hand has set me free. I originally posted this in 2013 at www.completelyundone.blogpost.com. I have updated the dates so it is current.
Jesus radically changed my life in November of 1988. I will never forget how he split the sea so I could walk to my freedom.
At 17, my life completely changed in a moment. I responded to an altar call at Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My mom had sent me away from my small town in Massachusetts, where I had stopped going to school and was not making many wise choices. It was nothing like I had planned. I didn't understand why I couldn't have it all. Why can't I smoke pot and skip school...and then somehow get it all together and go to college? Obviously the only person I had fooled was myself.
My choices didn't get me to college, but to an adolescent care unit in Tulsa (a.k.a. psych ward).
I left in August, a few weeks before what would have been my senior year. I left my friends and family, hopped on a plane, excited for a new adventure. Within 10 minutes of my arrival, they took my stuff (I mean, my cigarettes) and I got strip searched. I was flipping out and then I was told that I couldn't leave. It was a locked unit.
What? I told my mom I would go. I volunteered! Now you are telling me I CAN'T LEAVE!
I was so angry.
I was so mad.
Why was everyone else getting away with it? Why couldn't I go home? How did I get in this mess? Who are these people telling me what to do?
Looking back 29 years later....I realize the Lord saved me. I was headed down a road that would have taken everything from me. The Lord spoke to my mom's heart to take drastic steps in order to save my life. Somehow...I agreed.
For 3 months, I stewed in that place. I was so mad at the doctors, the nurses, the techs, the other teens... I talked about running away, tried to make wine in my room, hit a nurse, and made fun of the staff (I got really good at the last part).
Then, God got a hold of my heart. He wrecked me and opened my eyes to how lost I was without Him.
Luke 15:20 But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
When I was a long way off...He ran to me.
This road has not been easy, but it has been worth every step.
This road has not always been fun, but there has been much joy.
I have made a mess of many things, made many mistakes, and continue to be a sinner...but I have a Savior that loves me. He comforts me when I weep. He mends me when I break. He strengthens me when I am weak.
I am blessed in ways I never imagined. My husband is everything I could have hoped for. My children, all four, are a blessing from Him. My friends are life-giving and add so much to my life.
29 years ago, I was on a plane headed for Tulsa.
A few years ago, one of my friends called me looking for help for a friend. She asked me if I had been to Teen Challenge.
I answered, "No, my mom just sent me to the psych ward."
1 Corinthians 1:28-29 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things- and the things that are not- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
31 Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.
I did eventually get to college. I got a degree in psych.
Living Completely Undone
I am a girl passionately in love with Jesus, my husband, and my children. I am forever learning how to live a life completely undone for my God. This blog is about my journey and a few funny stories in between.