On Organizing One’s World

Slipshod or Precise?

Messy or Neat?

Planned or Random?

Just what DOES your dining room table look like? Yes, I know, the only excuse for a messy dining room table is tax time… and ahem, yes, it’s soon upon us.

messy tableYes this is what the dining room table usually looks like. I thought about cleaning it off just for this photo shoot. But that would be putting a better face on me and my organizational skills than I deserve, and it might put undue pressure on you, the reader, to look around at your own house and wonder why you don’t measure up.

We usually eat at this table so (except at tax time) it can’t be too filled with junk. But I do admit that some evenings I have shoved stuff to the side just to make room for two plates. Sighs loudly. 

So I confess to being a disorderly, organized person. An ex-librarian for goodness sakes, and now a secretary! Files must be in alphabetical order, but the desk is often messy. I go in fits and starts. Stuff collects until I can’t stand it and then I go on a binge of organizing and throwing away, shredding, filing… Last year as we took tax stuff to our new accountant, I was rather nervous that in one of those binges, I had shredded important documents that she would need.

Indexing! said the librarian. Organization! 

And so, in an effort to start 2017 in good form and Organize My World (starting with paperwork) I’ve cleaned and re-organized the kitchen cabinet, my clothes closet, my nightstand, and I am seriously working on my own attitude toward busy-ness. I’m reading Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald (which has been on my unread bookshelf for four years now…) and it is speaking to me loud and clear.

MacDonald’s book is definitely about one’s private world, which is the heart of our moral compass, our self-esteem, our values, our conversations with God, our souls. Yet I can’t help but think if our outer worlds are messy, it must, in part, reflect our inner world.

“For me the appropriate metaphor for the inner spiritual center is a garden, a place of potential peace and tranquility. This garden is a place where the  Spirit of God comes to make self-disclosure, to share wisdom, to give affirmation or rebuke, to provide encouragement, and to give direction and guidance. When this garden is in proper order, it is a quiet place, and there is an absence of busyness, of defiling noise, of confusion.

The inner garden is a delicate place, and if not properly maintained it will be quickly overrun by intrusive undergrowth. God does not often walk in disordered gardens…”

garden statue
And in the next chapter, he continues the garden metaphor…

“Few of us can appreciate the terrible conspiracy of noise there is about us, noise that denies us the silence and solitude we need for this cultivation of the inner garden. It would not be hard to believe that the archenemy of God has conspired to surround us at every conceivable point in our lives with the interfering noises of civilization that, when left unmuffled, usually drown out the voice of God. Those who walk with God will tell you plainly, God does not ordinarily shout to make Himself heard.”

(My copy of this book was published in 1985 — way before the electronic revolution changed the type and amount of noise in our lives).

I long for simplicity — an end to clutter — both in my outer and inner worlds. I long to get rid of paper, unnecessary choices that complicate life, and I long to be the type of person who puts everything away in the correct place when I’m finished with it… Or, at least remember where I put it so I don’t have to spend twenty minutes searching for it.

“God does not ordinarily shout to make Himself heard…” That bears repeating, doesn’t it? And the still small voice is hard to hear when distraction, busy-ness, and clutter fill your heart, your mind, and your life.

Clean your house — and while you are cleaning, pray.

Weed your garden — and while you are weeding, listen to the birdsong.

Read your bible — and while you are reading, think on who He is and how to best honor Him in your life.

And for goodness sakes, clean off that dining room table — and while you are organizing, sing.

17 thoughts on “On Organizing One’s World

  1. I cleaned off my dining room table and somehow new clutter is growing back. What’s up with that? My workbench in the garage and my drafting table at work are far worse offenders. Seems that every project creates clutter. 😐

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  2. Of course you only need 2 cleaned off places at the dinner table!!! Haha. Been there so many times. I have come to realize I am a “procrastinating perfectionist.” If I can’t put whatever I am putting away properly, it sits with all its friends waiting for me to get my act together. Makes for messy tables and desks. Progress in 2017? Perhaps.

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  3. At least you got it together to send Christmas cards… 🙂
    My sister — who has our old family dining table sent me a photo of it all cleaned off and pretty for Christmas, and said, This table has a long history of being messy.
    So I guess we get it honestly. Happy 2017!

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  4. Also, Organize My World sounds really overwhelming. I am working on Putting My Priorities In Order so that this activity involves only me and not the things I cannot control and also figuring out how to mop my kitchen.

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  5. Please never look at my office desk! OK – or my office! I have resolved to start cleaning. Both are reflective of the chaos that is most often my mind. john

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  6. I enjoyed reading your post. You included one of my favorite quotes from the book. I loved the idea of spiritual gardening. I included it in my post “5 Quotes Worth Sharing from “Ordering Your Private World” by Gordon MacDonald.” I just finished reading Ordering your Private World by Gordon MacDonald and it has really revolutionized my health and life. While my dining room table is clean [only because my wife is always on top of this and has a more organized private world]. I felt that my life was out of control and that my health was spiraling downward because of it. As a means of trying to put some of the things he suggested into practice [i.e. The Knowledge & Wisdom Sector] I am starting to write to process what I am reading.

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