Contentment Amidst Chaos
Today I decided to blog about something a little different than my norm. It is something that has been on my heart and in my mind for several months now, and it is something that I feel burdened enough to share. I have no idea if anyone will even read this, or even if it will make any sense to the few that do, but I hope that if you are taking the time to read that it will. My intention in sharing is not to convince you to change, but simply to help you push pause and contemplate life, even if it is for just a brief moment or two.
“Life is what happens while we are making other plans.” – Allen Saunders
The other day I was at TJ Maxx and ran across a magnet with this quote on it. (And before I begin I would like to clarify that I am in no way endorsing the views of Allen Saunders (I also have no idea who he is or what they are); I am simply using this brief quote as a singular example.) The quote caught my attention because it so well summed up many of the thoughts that have been swimming through my sea of a mind these days.
You see, much of what I have been contemplating is this thing we call balance in life. The constant battle of knowing when to do this, when to do that, when to work, when to rest, when to show grace, when to hold fast, and so on…”When do I plan?” “How much should I plan?” “How should I react when plans go awry?” “Am I spending too much time doing this?” “Am I spending enough time doing this?” And the list of thoughts and questions goes on and on…
If I am not making any sense yet, let me try to add to the confusion by sharing part of our story.
Much of our summer has been spent in the form of a mild-whirlwind state of chaos. Not as the result of anyone’s choice but our own, but still a choice none the less. Being that I am a person of definite structure and organization by nature, this has been rather challenging. I am the type of individual that has lists and lists of my lists and flow charts of my flow charts…and if you don’t believe me, just ask to see my Google drive sometime, it is quite embarrassing. (I even have a spreadsheet for “socialization” so don’t even try to tell me that I am not ridiculous.)
It all started in April when I decided to first sell furniture and decor at a local vintage and made fair. I began blogging November 2015, and since then had been trying to figure out how to combine my passion for people, home design, and need for income. So, I decided to take 2016 and explore several options involving those three things, one of which involved picking, making and selling! One opportunity led to another, and by the end of June I had set up camp in the corner of a local vintage boutique called The Shop. I am still in utter awe at the series of events that have led us to this point, and know that they truly could not have been orchestrated by any other than a perfect God. While I am so thankful and am continuing to love this new opportunity, I am also coming to a full realization of all that goes into running your own business.
And let me tell you, it is no cake walk.
To anyone who runs a business, who is trying to start a business, or who has tried to start a business in the past, you know exactly what I am talking about. (And to those of you who don’t have your own business, let me also say that I am not trying to make this sound like it’s harder or better than your life or your job…It is not, and I don’t what to mean that at all. I have no idea what you go through each day…but I can say that for me, this is hard. 🙂 )
There are so many decisions to be made, things to track, goals and plans to create… and that doesn’t even begin to include the actual procurement and making of product. To all those small business veterans out there; I salute you.
On top of that, this whole process has taken place amidst a whole slew of other responsibilities including serving at church, my two other part time jobs, Jon’s pastoral & national guard duties, two missions trips, wedding planning for a friend, and just the day to day life of trying to be a good friend, responsible adult, and homeowner.
And here is the confession:
I have discovered that I have an incredibly hard time actually living life in the moment that I am presently in.
Does anyone else feel this way? I am not even kidding you…there are so many moments this summer that I wish that I could go back and just enjoy or live in, because when they were here, I didn’t. I have noticed a trend in my thinking, and I just guessing that there are other 20 somethings out there who struggle with this as well. There is such a drive and push in our culture to plan and create your future, that there is little appreciation for the present. Success and fame are such high and mighty idols, that when our present situation doesn’t match up to what we idealize as success, we discount it as invaluable and irrelevant.
This thinking has led me to a place that I can no longer relax, no longer appreciate and no longer contemplate because I am not even here. I am somewhere in tomorrow, next week, next year, or somewhere 10 years down there road.
I am in a lot of places, but I am not here.
We are taught that tomorrows success is the result of choices made today, but if we are always looking for tomorrow, will it ever come? What if all of those goals, dreams and aspirations are suddenly shattered by one single situation or circumstance? Then everything we planned every move around and focused on for the past however many years amounts to what?
Just think about it.
I am not making a case for you just to stop planning, making goals, and living any sort of structured life. I do not believe that is wise at all. In fact in the book of Proverbs there are many verses referring to the wisdom in planning ahead and keeping the future in mind.
What I am saying is this: while we should be making plans and creating goals, they cannot be our sole focus. We can not be so in tuned on what we are to do tomorrow or five years from now that we forget to live and do what it is we need to do today. And, to be quite frank, much of what we need to do today probably isn’t even in our planned schedule. We don’t mark on our calendar to bumb into our neighbor and have that intentional conversation. We don’t pencil in time for our family and friends to go through sickness and heartache. We don’t plan for our spouse to have a rough day at work, or for our kids not to make the cut on the sports team.
We don’t plan for life to happen.
And that is just it. Life is not something that can be perfectly organized in a box or on a spreadsheet. It is not something over which we have absolute control. And maybe that is why it can feel chaotic.
You see, it has taken me several months (or years) now to truly realize why the more and more I try to structure and the more and more I try to plan, the more and more I try to control, the more and more chaotic my life tends to feel. Why?
Because I am not God.
Isaiah 55:8-11 says this:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
So what should I do then? Just through all my hopes, plans and dreams out the door?
But instead I should do this:
- Moment by moment choose to put God and his gospel mission above my own goals and plans.
- Spend time daily in prayer and in the Word, seeking what God wants me to do. So when life does happen, as it will, I will be equipped and prepared to bring real hope and truth to others.
- See that my plans and goals are in pursuit of his glory and fame; not my own comfort and success.
To those left wondering what my point to all of this is, know this:
Life is not something that you can control. But you can control your actions within it. How are your chosen actions reflecting the glory of God? We were created by Him and for Him, so it is no wonder that our only true satisfaction can be found through Him.
It is solely in that glorification of our Creator that we will find our true and perfect contentment amidst chaos.
I hope that this has been a blessing and encouragement to you today…and if nothing else, I hope that you are not alone in your daily battle for moment by moment living. We are in this together.
Thanks for reading.