November 25, 2007

A converted Messie?

My sister once called me a “converted messie.” She was referring to a book she’d read about people who are naturally untidy opposed to people who find it easier to be neat. The book was for ‘messies’ who couldn’t seem to pull their act together, and in her mind I was the exception: a messie with self-discipline.

Years later I’m beginning to understand her assessment, but the term ‘messie’ isn’t my problem. I’m somewhat attention deficit, and because of it, I’m easily sidetracked, distracted, and prone to disorder.

All my life I’ve fought this mind-set, not realizing until lately what I was fighting. As a result, I’m highly organized in some areas, but not in others. My house is mostly tidy, but not my studio—the place where I write, read, work on the family tree, sew, quilt, do graphic art—and that is the short list. As my husband says, there is a lot happening in this room.

My time management suffers too. I used to make a schedule, stick to it, and woe to anyone or anything that interrupted me. Then God convicted me that I needed to be open to His leading, and that His leading might include interruptions. So my life became more freewheeling. The problem with that is I tend to go whatever way the wind blows, distracted from one task to another, going with what interests me rather than sticking to the more boring responsibilities.

To counter this, I began making lists again, prioritizing them and being ultra-determined to get things done whether I felt like it or not, but this hasn’t been working either.

A question comes to mind—why is it so important that I be organized? Only someone with ADD tendencies can relate to my answer. With a mind that goes every which direction without a great ability to focus, I find that if I can control my space and my schedule, then my mind settles down a bit. I seldom feel ‘normal’ which is a relief from ‘scattered’ but being organized helps.

In the past few weeks God has been nudging me about this, not so much the mess or how I manage my time, but that I need to let Him into this. He is saying that instead of making huge efforts to set things in order, I need to listen to Him and moment-by-moment do what He says. Oh, that is hard!

I read James 4:13-17 this morning. It says, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit’; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

The gist of this is that my planning runs the danger of being independent from God’s will. If I don’t pray about it and consider what I do in light of the leading of His Spirit, then I’m vainly presuming that I know how to run my own life.

According to Isaiah 53:6, this is the very essence of sin. It says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” It is having my own way in opposition to God’s way is the essence of sin and therefore making my own plans apart from His input is evil.

The hardest thing for any sinner, never mind one with ADD, is to focus continually on the Lord, seeking His input on everything. In my old self, I resist. I may want to, but my sin nature fights with the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t take much of that battle to get me confused and unsure of what to do next, so I just pick what interests me the most (a trait of ADD) and later wind up frustrated and angry with myself because the important things are neglected.

It makes perfect sense to let God govern my daily activities. He knows what is vital and what has no value. He knows when interruptions are important or just another distraction. He will help me say no to the temptation of the trivial and yes to His Spirit. James suggests that He will also help me know what is good and do it.

All of this may seem like nothing to most people. I know my daughter was not able to understand how I think so I gave her Scattered Minds by Gabor Maté, a book about ADD. After reading it she said she could not relate to anything it said, even though I found it so helpful—finally, someone else described the inside of my head!

Certainly the whole idea of listening to and obeying God is important. Some might have trouble because they are rebellious, or they are dull, or they don’t care, or they are proud and vain, or they just think God hasn’t a clue about their needs. I am not much of the above, yet struggle with trusting Him anyway. Sadly, it is usually because I get distracted and forget that He is willing and waiting to help me.

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