That “anxiety” conversation – making some progress

Therefore, humble yourselves under God’s power so that he may raise you up in the last day. Throw all your anxiety onto him, because he cares about you. Be clearheaded. Keep alert. 

1 Peter 5:6-8a
– NC writer Derek Maul

I am a little bit pleased with myself right now (just a little) because I have made some progress in three areas of my life where I have been severely derelict. And by “progress” what I really mean is getting the ball rolling.

They are:

  • The garden: where I am two days into a five-day campaign
  • My study/office: where I am essentially halfway there
  • The cars: both have been overhauled mechanically and now just (“just”!!) need thorough cleaning, inside and out

There are issues, I’ll be the first to admit, in a dozen more areas I need to catch up on than just the three outlined above. But they will have to wait for now. Simply managing my parents’ lives, caring for Rebekah while she is broken, picking up extra routine household responsibilities, and keeping on top of my writing work is more than enough.

A recent conversation with Naomi added some clarity when she said, “We lived two and a half years in Miami, and you missed the whole thing.” True. Sad but true.

The value of order:

The reason I’m sharing this is that I am always surprised at the relationship (in my life) between order and mental health; order and spiritual health; order and creativity; order and productivity.

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I don’t need or want things lined up so neatly, color coded, all my herbs and spices alphabetized, the cans in the pantry all facing the same way.

Although I must admit, I do see the merit in some of that. When I worked at the Lakeview Center in Pensacola (Community Mental Health) I had a teacher’s aid who couldn’t stand disorder to the extend that she kept my desk tidy, constantly organized the classroom, kept my calendar, completed and filed my paperwork and more. One day she told me she had been diagnosed with OCD and was considering getting back on her medication. “Please, no!” I told her. “I think you’re perfect just the way you are!”

But I have noticed a correlation between severe disorder in my life and increased anxiety.

– making progress…

I believe there is some spiritual insight to be had here. Jesus talks a lot about spiritual healing. Later, in the epistles, Paul writes about it in terms of freedom. Jesus invited his followers to break away from the legalism and the oppression of a religion rooted in guilt, and details, and separation from God; Paul talked a lot about being set free from the restrictions of religious code and the choking paranoia of the law. Yet both Jesus in his invitation, and Paul in his articulate framing of the Good News sought to declutter our souls, and create a more elegant spirituality we could live into without tripping over a confusing mess of extraneous details.

Maybe it is like this: Maybe when I am organized enough and caught up enough then I have the luxury of focusing on what is important, what really matters. That’s why I can be more creative at a clean(ish) desk; that’s why I can enjoy my garden more when it is not so much of a jungle; that’s why I can cook something that is worth eating when I see enough of the countertop to work on, and enough of the sink to find the pots and pans I need.

What Jesus is saying…

Jesus is saying this to me: “Derek; I’m not asking you to walk away from all your work, but to do what it takes to give yourself room to breathe. Then, while you breathe, look to me to restore you, and inspire you, and bring you peace.”

Jesus is all about helping me to find peace; he is faithful, but I have to do my part too. – DEREK

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

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