I tend to be an organized person. I’m one of those weirdoes who alphabetize the books in our library, our movies, and the spices in my cupboard. My clothes are arranged by item and color and in my closet. I like to be able to find things easily. Arranging them a certain way makes me feel better about my world. It gives me the illusion of control.

 I never thought much about my penchant for managing things into logical groupings until my college roommate caught me eating M&M’s.

 “So,” she said, “you eat your M&M’s by color, I see.”

 I looked up, suddenly feeling exposed. “Yeah…”

 With a knowing smirk, she added, “You eat them in a certain order. How do you decide what color to eat next?” I felt like a bug on a pin.

 “I eat the yellow ones first,” I said, suddenly realizing I followed the progression of the color wheel. “…then orange, red, blue, green, brown.” I was taking art at the time, so it made sense to me. When she laughed, I knew I’d been caught. I don’t become violent if I’m thwarted in this effort, but I’m a little like my daughter’s dog. Part Border collie, Layla instinctively attempts to group things together – from family members to stray socks. She had a need for order.

Whether you’re slightly OCD like me, or comfortably messy, organization can be a good thing if not overdone, because when the messes of life get out of control, they distract us from focusing on our relationships, with God and others.

My son-in-law as a new daddy

If you’re a young mommy, just exiting the house requires paraphernalia galore. You need a diaper bag, snacks, blankets, toys, extra clothes, a car seat, and a purse. If you remember to grab it along with all your other stuff! All of it immediately morphs into a jumbled mess the moment you begin to search for a particular item.

 When you get home, you feel like you’re surrounded by mounds of dirty clothes, dishes, toys, and crumbs. Sticky doorknobs, equipped with childproof locks, often seem more effective in keeping you out than your children. Not only does your world seem messy, but you feel messy and unorganized. Lack of sleep, a crazy schedule, and being in constant demand make it difficult to feel like your life is in order. You sigh, looking forward to the day when “I can have everything clean and organized the way I want it.”

 However, when you get older, the messes just change form. It is nice when your kids are grown and you can leave the house relatively unencumbered. Still, the messes of life continue to mount. Paperwork, to-do lists, laundry, dishes (yes still!), appointments, scheduling demands, family obligations, and community involvement – the list goes on. It doesn’t matter how old you are. As long as we live, life is messy.

 If I had it to do over again, I would relax more during my child raising years. I would refrain from washing all the toys after every play date. I would sit down and play with my children more. And I am learning in mid-life to let some things go and give people greater priority. But I also know this organizational strength I have is God-given, and very helpful in keeping our home and surroundings comfortable, healthy, and safe.

 Tune in next time for tips on how to organize your external world, so you can relax and enjoy your life and the people in it, without going crazy with the messes of life.