Does it ever bother you to be surrounded by a mess? It sure bugs me! Some days, I feel guilt or embarrassment about the fact that I truly shudder when I am surrounded by stuff… lots of extra stuff… in a completely disorganized disarray. I’m talking real, jaw-clenching, headache-inducing, blood-boiling, joy-robbing shudders of disgust. And being a mom, I am always surrounded by stuff! [Please tell me I’m not alone in this..] I need to find a way to calm the chaos!
It doesn’t really matter what your daily occupation is – messes and stuff are a part of life. Maybe you have a desk piled a mile high with folders that need filing. Maybe your office is finally going digital and you’ve drawn the short straw, so guess who get’s to input those 5 filing cabinets full of information.. yup, you. [If that’s you today, I’ve been there. I’m sorry!]
Whatever your story, disorganized excess can cause legitimate distress. By the way, I’m striving to not pass on my organization obsession to my young children! I really am trying to let them make messes – like all children should feel free to do. I just ask them to pick it up as soon as they move on to something else. You know the phrase “there’s an app for that”? Well, I’ve coined the phrase “there’s a bin for that.”
And all of this spills over into our spiritual lives too. Did you ever notice that? I am not for one second saying that you have to be organized to have a quality spiritual life, but do you feel like your soul could benefit from a more still and peaceful space? This could mean physically for you, but what I’m really referring to is mentally. We could all use a little less mental chaos.
What Mental chaos looks like
For me, I allow a lot of excess lists to flood my mind at any given moment. It’s amazing how one minute I am reading a section of scripture – God’s love letter to me – and the next minute I am running through my grocery list to make sure that I haven’t missed anything. Meanwhile, I’ve completely missed all of the words on the page in front of me. That is mental chaos… masquerading as order. Can you relate to this??
Or how about when you set off to complete a task, see something you meant to complete earlier, and finish that item instead… leaving your original task unfinished. Talk about a mental mess!
Do we need some life hacks for this?
If only we could come up with a few mental hacks to manage this mess! We could put all of our mind’s “stuff” into cute little bins like we do with our physical belongings… Wouldn’t that be fantastic?! [I’m told this is what men do… suddenly, it sounds rather wonderful!]
But as women, that’s just not going to happen without some great intentionality. We don’t really need more mental bins… but rather, less “stuff” to fill them with. All day long, we are bombarded with information – facts, to-do’s, and even other people’s to-do’s. Life is full enough, but thanks to social media you are now privy to a play-by-play of your friends’ schedules and activities. This influx of information fills your already-overflowing mental bins with even more ideas, desires, and dreams that seem pretty nice in your friend’s world. This adds up to a big mess awful quickly. Unfortunately, there are no real hacks to calm the mental chaos, so what should we do??
How do we combat the chaos?
What can we do to let go of the jumble of thoughts when they have steered us into waters of confusion and distraction? Our first and most powerful line of defense will always be prayer. Asking God to settle your mind, which will help you focus on the task at hand, may make all the difference. Prayer actually gives you a solid thought to focus on, allowing the noisy mess around you to be simmered, even if only for a moment.
Second, get some space between you and the external noise. Put. The. Phone. Down. Turn off the monitor or TV. Tell the kids that you are taking a 2-minute break and no one may ask questions during those 2 minutes. Or take a 2-3 minute “potty” break from your desk. I know, I know – you just came up with at least 5 different reasons why this wouldn’t work, but it has to be up to you if you’re going to find some peace and quiet in your mind. I bet that if you really wanted to, you could find a way to give yourself an intentional 2-minute break.
And third, have a few scriptures ready to read/recall/meditate on during those 2 fleeting minutes. Write them down on an index card, a chalk board, or of course… sticky notes!! This idea of having a couple of verses prepared just allows that teeny tiny mental break to be profitable and helpful. I want to share with you my quick list of chaos-calming truths from my Father:
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8 (NASB)
I love this verse (and ALL of the verses surrounding it) because it tells me what I should be thinking about! I’m not told to have an empty mind – which would be impossible, especially as a woman… am I right?! I am told to let go of the things that pulls my mind away from the Lord, and then to fill my mind with His truth! Man, talk about a reset!
Praise [God] for His mighty deeds; praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Psalm 150:2 (NASB)
This short little gem puts my attention right back on Who it should rest. The One who is worthy of praise! And putting this verse to practice will definitely calm the storm in my mind.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for our good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NASB)
Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Then this verse if for you! Talk about a soothing balm for the soul!
Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB)
Again, another reminder of what I am to set my mind on – rejoice, pray, give thanks. God has a wonderful plan for me because of Christ Jesus, and in all things I can rest and give Him praise!
If you like these 4 verses, print them off for yourself! Here’s a printable download version to add to your printed stash, your war-room, your bulletin board- anywhere that’s helpful for you: calming the chaos verse cards
it’s all because of grace
Am I suggesting a list of things you must do to please God in this area of controlling your chaotic thoughts? NO!! To go back to a lifestyle of “must do’s” to be pleasing and acceptable to God would be entirely contrary to everything I have shared with you about grace.
Rather, I want to encourage you to let His Spirit and His word control the mess that fills your mind on any given day. Allowing yourself to walk in the freedom and simplicity of grace, instead of the slavery and disorder of all of the “stuff” that floods and overwhelms us in our 21st century lives.
My prayer for you is that in implementing these 3 strategies (prayer, a time-out, and prepared verses), you will see His grace more readily and clearly all throughout your day!
I love you, sister in Christ, and I’m rooting for you today!