I like order. I like to take control of my environment, if at all possible, and wage war on clutter. Clutter weighs me down. It makes me unproductive. Uncreative. I feel agitated. I can’t rest until the clutter in my life is tamed.
Nothing is orderly for me today. I’m typing this at my desk at home, which, like all the furniture in my house, is coated in an inch of construction dust. My husband, who had carpal tunnel surgery this morning, is blissfully snoring on the sofa, with the wounded arm he insists on using finally at rest, propped up on pillows. Two guys are in our bathroom, cutting tiles and adhering them to the new shower wall. Another guy is dragging debris out through the front door. I don’t know where the fourth guy is. Our house is a wreck. I know it will be beautiful, soon, but today isn’t the day and we haven’t had that day for over a week. We can expect chaos to reign for another week or so.
This was my everyday life in California. Steve and I lived below a very kind woman who happened to be addicted to renovation. On my days off work, I struggled to write my book at home to the backdrop of jackhammers and drills, echoing in the beat of my throbbing head. I regularly jumped over freshly-stained deck boards to get in our door. For one month-long stretch, our front wall was a clear piece of heavy-duty saran wrap. This did not bring out the best in me.
Our first night in our new home in North Carolina, I noticed the difference. Quiet. Steve and I decided that if we ever had construction work going on, it would be our choice. And we haven’t made that choice very often.
I wish I could rise above my environment, but it does affect me. Does it affect you, too? The secret seems to be not letting my external circumstances control me and dictate my attitude. But how do I do that? In Romania, living in a sea of barren concrete block buildings, I regularly escaped and found refuge for my soul in a slightly prettier place where I’d pour out my heart before the Lord.
Some people have no alternative. They may be tied to a hospital bed. Or a prison cell. And they still can, and often do, experience peace, in the midst of uncertainty, chaos, or grief. They’ve learned to be still and know that He is the God who brings order, even when life is one of disorder. He alone calms hearts.
My construction work will end. But is this hope what I’m counting on to bring me peace? It won’t last. It won’t transcend the difficulties of life. But the peace that Jesus brings will.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27