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Are you suffering from CHAOS, or Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome?

I’ve encountered many women who are afraid to invite people into their homes because of all the mess. I used to be one of those women! Our house was a mess all the time, which caused constant inner turmoil for me—embarrassment, guilt, stress, and a sense of failure. It caused problems in my marriage: no husband wants to step on toys in the floor or dig through a pile of papers to find a certain bill. Living in chaos didn’t bless my husband, honor the Lord, or set a good example for our kids.

But here’s the biblical truth about this topic:

  • 1 Corinthians 14:33—For God is not a God of disorder/confusion, but of peace.
  • 1 Corinthians 14:40—Let all things be done decently and in order.
  • God invented organization, He is a God of ordered systems. Since we are made in His image, we crave order and are frustrated by disorganization. If organization doesn’t come naturally to you, praise the Lord it’s a skill you can learn! I finally did! 
  • Proverbs 31:27 tells us to look well to the ways of our household.
  • And Titus 2 urges older women to teach younger women how to be keepers at home. So that’s what I’m doing!

Scientific studies warn that clutter and disorganization are actually harmful to our health. One psychology journal called clutter the antagonist/enemy of well-being. 

Here are 3 benefits of having an orderly lifestyle for those of us married to the ministry: 

  1. can help your family connect
  2. can relieve stress in your mental state and in your marriage (ask me how I know!)
  3. can help refresh your stressed pastor husband when he has a haven to relax in, which blesses your ministry

Hebrews 12:11 tells us that no discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Doesn’t that sound wonderful—peaceful fruit of righteousness? Getting our stuff organized will help us Be organized, help us develop an orderly or organized lifestyle. That’s peaceful fruit.

Before we get to the steps for developing more order in your life, I want to remind you about some of the resources available through Love Worth Finding that can help you grow in your faith. Today’s culture of chaos definitely spills into our homes. If the desperate state of our world is stealing your joy, click HERE for an encouraging article entitled “Where Is God in Today’s Chaos?”

Now for the practical part!

These basic principles can be used to organize any space. Don’t feel like you need to tear through the whole house this weekend; it’s okay to start with one closet or one cabinet or one drawer. I recommend starting in your master bedroom area, the private space you share with your husband, where you get ready for the day together. Kitchens and kids’ rooms can be overwhelming, so learn these principles in your bedroom first before you move on to more disorganized areas of the house.

Step 1:  Reduce

Practice streamlining, which just means reducing stuff to a manageable amount. Americans are addicted to stuff! Too much stuff is a trap, a form of bondage, that prevents you from being and doing all that God has planned for you. 

The secret to this step is black trash bags:  “black” so no one can see what you put in them, and “trash” so you’ll start emotionally detaching yourself from this stuff. Label 3 black trash bags as give-away, throw-away, and put-away.

Remove one item at a time from the space you’re working and ask yourself 3 H questions: 

  1. Does it make me HAPPY?  Do I love it?
  2. Does it HELP me?  Do I need it?  Do I use it?
  3. Does it have a HOME in my house?  Do I have room for it?  Does it go here?

If you answer no to any of these questions for an item, put it in a bag. But which bag? “Good junk” that others can use (like outgrown clothes, extra knick-knacks) in give-away; “Bad junk” like stained clothing or broken, put in throw-away; “Undecided” stuff may be a keeper but it doesn’t go here in put-away bag

Be ruthless with duplicates, like towels, socks, purses. Keep the best and get rid of the rest!

Now as you come to certain items, you may be thinking—

But my grandmother gave me this!
We don’t have enough money to re-buy this if I need it again later!

Keeping stuff we’re not using is not a blessing, it’s called hoarding! And I’m always surprised at how much of the junk I pull out is actually empty packaging or items that don’t work anymore. God gave us permission to do get rid of stuff in Eccl. 3:6—“there’s a time to gain and a time to lose, a time to keep and a time to throw away.”

Reducing stuff creates empty space—some of us don’t know what that looks like! But don’t be afraid of it—empty space is your friend.

Step 2:  Rethink

Now look at your uncluttered space, that shelf or drawer or closet, and analyze it. What was working and what wasn’t? What would help you most if it were kept in this space? You don’t have to store things where your mom did or be limited by labels (like pantry or linen closet). Space is space and it’s very flexible, so make it work for you! 

Look for hidden space:

  • UP – vertical space. Where can you add an extra shelf or hooks? What about hooks on the back of a door? Everything doesn’t have to sit on a shelf or in a drawer.
  • BETWEEN – washer and dryer, mattress and box springs
  • INSTEAD OF – Elfa storage system instead of one shelf/rod

Assign a purpose to each area of storable space, then fill that space with items that correspond with the purpose you decided on. It’s okay to store bulky Christmas decorations in an upper bathroom cabinet or toys for your grandkids in a lower cabinet. Think through where it would help you to have certain items.

Step 3:  Rearrange

After you’ve removed the clutter, created empty space, and defined purposes for your storage areas, now you can finally achieve that elusive “place for everything and everything in its place”! Take the things out of your put-away bag and redistribute them to their new homes according to the functions you’ve assigned.

Keep these ideas in mind for this step:

  • Store things where you use them:  pajamas and underwear in the bathroom cabinets and our sheets in the nightstand drawers because that’s where it was most convenient, cleaning supplies in each bathroom
  • Group like items together in containers (use shoe boxes or clean food containers): hair products, dress socks, extra toiletries
  • Hang as much as possible, look for holes or drill some in: purses, towels, shoe bag on back of door for toiletries, fold extra sheets over a pants hanger, clip boots to skirt hanger
  • Use labels so family can help keep order
  • Give decorative items a functional purpose—digital picture frame instead of several framed pictures, grandmother’s china bowl to hold jewelry
  • Move infrequently used items to attic, garage, or basement.  Use sturdy numbered boxes and keep inventory list in Family Notebook or index card file box instead of writing all over the box (THIS IS THE SECRET TO LIVING WITH A PACKRAT!)

Step 4:  Refresh

Living an orderly lifestyle means maintaining order in real life. Expect that you’re going to have to refresh your organizational systems.

  • Re-evaluate your space and your stuff periodically to make sure your organization systems are still working for you (outgrown clothes, different stage of life)
  • Get rid of an old one if a new one comes in
  • Teach your family how to keep things organized so the burden doesn’t fall on your shoulders alone 

Hopefully these tips will help you transform your home from a desperate space into a delightful place where your family can enjoy building relationships and memories instead of tripping over piles of laundry and toys in the floor.

I’m so glad you could join me today! And could I ask you for a favor? It would help us encourage more pastors’ wives if you share Married to the Ministry with a ministry friend who might not know about our podcast. Thank you! Until we get together again, keep loving Jesus, keep loving your husbands, and keep loving your people!