Clutter and True Peace

glowing lotus

Life is incredibly messy. Believe me, I know. When I was a kid, I didn’t really mind messes. And even when I was in college, messes were acceptable as long as they were “out of sight.” When I was student teaching, I once spent weeks with my trunk overflowing with clutter—literally—I had to practically sit on my trunk to close it. It didn’t really bother me, though. It was my opinion that life was too busy to worry about something as unimportant as clutter.

cansMy “clutter-isn’t-bad” philosophy held until quarantine. Then things changed. My illness spun everything in my universe completely out of control, and I tried to regain that control by obsessively cleaning. And when I say OBSESSIVELY, I mean OBSESSIVELY. My canned goods were not only organized by vegetable, they were also alphabetized and stacked neatly with their labels facing the front. Everything in my house that could be labeled was labeled—including the label maker. My clothes were arranged by season, color, and type of material. My bookshelves would have made a library look unorganized. My junk drawer was pristine. My freezer was a work of art. And my dishes were washed IMMEDIATELY after use—and when I say immediately, I mean it. I used pot holders to wash pans straight out of the oven. I wouldn’t sit down to eat until the sink was empty and scoured.

Truthfully, I went off the deep end.

I suppose that part of it was boredom. (You try spending seven years in quarantine). But most of it was desperation. My life was out of control, so I tried to exert control how ever I could.

green treeIf anyone had told me that I was washing boiling hot pans and alphabetizing canned goods because I didn’t trust God, I would have laughed. But looking back, that’s exactly what I was doing. You see, in the back of my head, a little tape player was constantly playing: You’ll never get out quarantine. You’ll never have a normal life. You’re gonna die soon. You are going to die in pain. You’re going to die a failure. No one will even miss you when you are gone. You’re a weirdo. You’ll never get out of quarantine. You’ll never…

I HATED that tape recorder, so I tried to block its unrelenting noise by keeping busy. But there are only so many ways that you can keep busy while locked in a house—hence the alphabetized canned goods.

yellow moonFor years, I kept up my obsessive routines. For years, I tried to drown out the voice of my fears through “busy work.” Then something changed. One night, in the middle of the night, I felt the loving presence of God hovering over my bed. The peaceful presence was so strong that it woke me up. As I lay there looking up at the moon shadows dancing on the ceiling, I realized that my fear was gone. And in its place was a feeling of peace. I was basking in that gentle, peaceful glow, when God’s voice came. His voice was soft and low—not audible but powerful. He simply said, “Come, spend time with me.”

It was around 2 a.m., and my room was cold, but I bundled myself in a blanket and went out to the couch. I sat there in silence and let the gentle peace of God surround me. It was unutterably beautiful. I felt as if I had been running a long, hard race and suddenly I could sit and rest.

Marys lakeThe next day, several times throughout the day, I heard God’s voice say again: “Come, spend time with me.” Each time, I would stop what I was doing, go sit on the couch, and let God’s gentle peace surround me.

Soon, “peace breaks” became an essential part of my days. Soon, I couldn’t imagine my life without them. And the more time I spent basking in God’s peace, the more the old tape recording began to fade. And the more the recording began to fade, the less compulsive I became about organizing and cleaning. Slowly, my life came back into balance.

waterfall 11I still battle with worry at times. And I still like things neat and tidy. But I don’t alphabetize the vegetables any more. In quarantine, I learned that I can’t create my own peace. Believe me, I tried–and any small bit of peace that I managed to conjure up was fleeting, tainted, and strained. I learned that true peace can only be obtained by getting quiet, getting still, and getting close to God. You see, true peace doesn’t come from controlling everything and making it “just so.” True peace comes from sitting at the feet of Jesus and letting His peace become your own.

 

boat sunrise“Peace I leave with you, [Jesus says] my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27

 

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9 thoughts on “Clutter and True Peace

  1. Cherrilynn Bisbano

    Thank you for this encouragement We are in the middle of a storm in our family. I find peace clinging to Jesus as the waves try to pound the life out of me.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We are indeed soul-sisters! ❤ As is anyone who has gone through grief. We share an insatiable need to control. Something. Anything.

    I tried to keep everything like it "used to be" during those dreadful years of my life…I wouldn't even take off the earrings Michelle gave me until God pried my fingers off the steering column of my life and taught me to release all things to Him–especially my pain and that dang recording in my brain.

    My husband wishes I would've spent that time consumed with neat and tidy driving my emotions. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing refreshing water drawn from the deep well of things you learned during those seven treacherous years. But true to His promise, God does indeed work ALL things (even the really, really bad stuff) together for our good and His glory for those who love and obey Him. And I believe He expects us to share those lessons after we've walked through the "valley of the shadow of death." Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Renette

    Danele thank you for another wonderful post. I never thought of my extremes or compulsions, as disobedience but i see they are, thank you.

    Yes, i am one to go whole heartedly one way or the other everything organized and alphabetized but when others wont put things where i want i go to the other extreme and leave it all a mess.

    Praying for GODs peace and balance. You are an inspiration!
    May GOD bless you with His SONshine and hug you with His everlasting love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Renette, I’m so glad that you enjoyed this post. Life can be so confusing and hard–I’m so glad that God not only puts up with our little quirks, but that He loves us enough to help us overcome them. Thank you so much for your lovely comment and for the beautiful blessing you’ve spoken over me! I really appreciate you! I hope you have a wonderful day! 🙂

      Like

  4. Caryl McAdoo

    Whew…I wasn’t drawn to read this as I thought it might bring condemnation on clutter and that you MUST get rid of it to have peace…whew 🙂 I feel better now 🙂 Hugs and love Danele! Thanks for the post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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