The Lord Loves A Neat-Freak
Finally! I have my first Guest Blogger! I'm super stoked to announce said guest-blogger is none other than my husband, Charlie. My husband is a hard-working man, leader of our home, daddy to his Sawyer and most of all, a well-rounded Jesus Freak pursuing righteousness and fullness of Christ. I constantly speak about his wisdom and insight, and as this was a revelatory topic he felt compelled to write for me and was nice enough to share it with my readers instead of saving it for his soon-to-come blog of his own!
So without further delay or words to read....Charlie is up:
My wife, janny: organically., writes some great posts on a lot of topics. She is passionate about health, clean living and basically anything toxin free, hormone free, sustainably grown, vitamix-enhanced, and incredibly expensive. She reminds me we are saving money on long-term medical bills…a point I occasionally and ineffectively attempt to contest.
As a man and husband who strives to be more like Jesus, (failing constantly) I love seeing God do things in my wife that make her more like Him and draw our household into a place of peace, beauty, and fruitfulness.
There are obvious things we can all do to help move our existences in that direction like reading scripture, praying, fellowship, corporate worship, etc., but there is something we can do that feels much less spiritual and has tremendous impact.
That something is organization.
This post will not help you pick better cleaning products or protect your family from Monsanto but what it might do is give you some thoughts on cleaning/organizing with a heart that honors God. The revelation of this truth has rebuked me for allowing chaos in my life and given me a new priority for order in all things.
I write this with the assumption cleanliness and organization are things you desire, but not an altar at which you worship. Some people might make organization a god (think Monica from Friends) and use Biblical concepts to justify their actions instead motivate their actions. The concepts below have motivated me to be cleaner and more organized rather than justify a pre-existing maniacal condition.
So, please don’t beat your spouse over the head with this post just because you have a preference it supports. Read the rest of the Bible too and recognize that love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, are even more important that being right about a non-essential topic.
OK...let's get to it.
In Genesis 3, we see man (Adam and Eve) lived in Eden, and God dwelt among them. Eden is described as a place of perfection (paraphrasing) where Adam and Eve lived in harmony with their surroundings. When I think of Eden, I like to picture a combination of Hanalei Bay, Hawaii (pictured above) and the grounds at The Parker Hotel in Palm Springs. Except, I've never seen God walking in those places existing in perfect relationship with me!
Theologians use a word to describe the state of existence observed before sin in Genesis 3. That word is Shalom. Now, most of my Christian life I've been told Shalom means Peace. I think most Christians would agree that's how it's been translated into English. However, if you talk to someone who knows Hebrew, they'll probably tell you what an inadequate translation that is.
While peace means absence of conflict, the word Shalom means absence of conflict and the presence of all things necessary for human flourishing. Some would describe it as wholeness, completeness, or serenity.
As Hebrew scholars looked into Genesis to understand Shalom, they found something radical. The creation of Eden, the place where God walked with man and where perfect Shalom existed, is described like this:
When God created a place of Shalom, perfect for human flourishing, he:
- planted a garden
- made it beautiful, and
- made it productive
Let’s take a quick look at each of the three in reverse order:
- The Bible is all about productivity. There are plenty of comments about producing fruit and being profitable. Our western American culture is totally about this. It’s not bad, it’s actually a very good and important thing.
- Beauty makes life enjoyable and we all want to be surrounded by it. It’s good to recognize, however, that it is a very important part of flourishing. God shows us in Genesis that it’s good for you to be healthy and surrounded by beauty. We don’t worship beauty, we worship God. But beauty is incredibly important.
- While beauty and productivity are incredibly important the first thing God did is plant a garden.
Question: What’s the difference between a garden and a wilderness?
Everything that grows in a garden grows in the wild. But a garden is organized. God didn’t just pick a place in the wilderness; he planted it with a special level of order because that was important to him. He designed its occupants to thrive in an orderly environment.
To further emphasize the importance of order, let me point out that in Hebrew poetry the order of a list is very important. In this case, I'm told they are listed by greatest to least value or importance; much like the ingredient labels on packaged food I don’t read. This last point robs my wife of some of her shalom.
Organization, beauty, and productivity are the three things that are required for wholeness, flourishing, thriving - or - Shalom, yet the greatest of these is organization.
What an awesome thing to crack the “Shalom code”, right? This should profoundly impact your thought process when approaching your life. It’s recently given me a lot to work on.
Here are a few practical ways I’ve been blessed by this:
- My Desk
- Typically a place for items to be dropped and ignored until I address or discard them. I’ve recognized over the years that I enjoy my workday much more when I have a clean desk. You’d think that would be enough to keep it organized, but it’s a constant struggle.
- Since recognizing that this is not just a minor preference of mine but a design component built into mankind, I’ve begun to take my desk more seriously, have my notes typed out, loose papers scanned, etc. to create a non-chaotic, organized setting for my mind to work
- I’ve set my mind to keeping my computer files as organized as my desk. This has been incredibly liberating. No longer do I have to dig through emails or folders for documents because I have them in the cloud. This took dozens of hours of work, but a well-organized set of files is a joyful thing for me.
- Our home
- As janny: organically. juggles being a wife and mommy, running a blog, maintaining a social media presence, making food for the family, and staying in ripped shape, sometimes the flat surfaces can start to look like my desk...cluttered with random “things.” I’ve been trying to take some time on the weekend to serve my wife by focusing on organization. Much of the time this creates a greater amount of Shalom in the house. Not perfect Shalom, but more than we might have had.
I’d urge you to look into scripture and lift up your organizing to the Lord as worship, doing all things as unto Him.
This post was written by the husband of janny: organically., who frequently likes to be referred to as Charlie: Conventionally, just to piss her off.