5 Baby Steps for Getting OUT of CHAOS

MY TESTIMONY

“Help me establish a routine again, Jesus! Help me function for Your glory. Help me steady myself, because I’m tired of disorder, of confusion, and of punishing myself! Help me back to my feet, Lord.”

There are clearly many HELP ME sentences in my journal entries for August. I’ve been pleading with God to help me, and waiting to write these words: He has helped me!

I was hesitant to share in the middle, because I feel like so many of you are in the middle, still waiting to utter the words that echo a completion, or at least a completed mile marker. I didn’t know if I could handle not having an answer, but just saying “yeah, me too” and stopping there. I am conquering such fears, the fear of not having anything good to say and being just like everybody else someone turns to, with nothing good for them to take away.

I did something insane. I mean it, insane. I committed to writing a DAILY devotional while my life was still pretty much in chaos. I wasn’t eating right, sleeping right, or doing anything constructive on a consistent basis {aside from work}, and yet I obeyed the nudge that said “no, do it anyway” and wham.

So I launched A Tree of Life, and I wasn’t that surprised when the first 10-20 people signed up. These are my heroes. Family, mentors, people in my parents’ generation that follow my every step. “Okay,” I thought, “if I mess up, I can just explain it to them, no big deal.”

Then more people signed up. And more people. Now there are 60-some people on there, some of whom I’ve never met, complete strangers. Okay, what? No no no no no.

I felt that cold sweat, you know? The feeling in  the stomach when you’re about to speak to a crowd, and you know you have something to say, but it’s still daunting? Yep. And I knew that it was Jesus, and I knew that I couldn’t back out.

The accountability is the most amazing and frustrating thing I’m experiencing right now.

I have to do this one thing, daily, or make extra time and prepare more in one day. And I also have to read what I’m sending, and read a lot of extra scripture as I select what to send. I have to be intentional, preemptive, and consider others before myself. Can I tell you a secret?

It’s spilling all over my life.

I’m being preemptive with food, with health. I bought chewable vitamins and I was bummed that the dose is only two gummies. I bought a robot {no but really, Jetsons status} that is a rice cooker, steamer, and slow cooker. I already used it to make rice while steaming salmon, spinach, and mushrooms. Best 20 minute meal ever, no mess.

I’m being intentional with my friends, to call, to answer the phone, and to SHOW UP for when we have meetings. I haven’t stood anybody up in 7 days, get outta here. I made goody bags for the guys who helped me move, and got flowers for the Smiths on move-out day, and for Simone on move-in day. Not to boast on my thoughtfulness, but rather to say OH MY GOSH I am doing it again, the nice things I THINK about doing but stopped doing for so many months, because I was broken broken broken. Do you relate??? Like, what do you do with all those good intentions when they just crash down for months??? Finally, they’re coming to fruition, actually realized, and that’s such a victory, guys!

I painted furniture yesterday. I lit candles, and went to my room at 8:30pm, had already eaten dinner, already washed dishes and cleaned the counters. At 8:30, I did a collage with Jesus, and wrote. I sat in the glow of lights and candles, and swayed in His love. I can’t tell you how freeing it is to have had this breakthrough. It’s here. It was September, all along!

Looking back, I have so much more compassion for people who are in the mess. I used to think they could just ‘get it together’ and stop being hot messes, but that’s not exactly how it works. Every intention is there, but it has to be just like a chemical reaction. I’m used to catalyzed reactions, but now I have compassion for uncatalyzed reactions that take more energy, more time.

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I am a scientist part-time, bear with me.

All in all, I wanted to boast in the power of Jesus, to say that He was and is sufficient for me in my times of direst need, and to encourage you if you’re in the middle:

1. ACCOUNTABILITY

Do one thing the same, every single day. I hope that it’s spending time with Jesus, just crack open your Bible or write for FIVE minutes on your journal. Listen to ONE song that’s a worship song. Do ONE thing the same, every day. Tell a friend or two that you’re doing this, and text them when you did it for that day.

 2. PICK A BED TIME & GO TO BED

Also, as you’re going to bed, PICK A BED TIME. I know that sounds silly, but it helps. Commit to it. Put your phone away. Wash your face, brush your teeth, put on your night cream (oh the greatness of night cream), and GO TO BED. Read a book if you can’t sleep, but no screens.

3. PLAN YOUR MEALS

Planning my meals was a fun journey as well. I remember committing to eating breakfast every day for a week, and only accomplishing this ONCE that week. Better than nothing. Now it’s not a dread to make food anymore, or to plan it, or to think about eating it. If you’re grieving, you need to remind your body that it likes food. It was made for food. Your appetite might be MIA but your body remembers what to do. Make double portions,save one for leftovers. Eat anyway.

4. MAKE TIME FOR JOY & ART

Listen to songs that uplift you, that are good for you. No lie, Taylor Swift’s new song, Shake It Off, is a good one to dance to in the middle of a really bad day. Paint something. Color. Draw. Light a candle. Buy flowers, pick flowers, draw flowers, anything to do with flowers. It helped my soul realign with beauty and the vibrancy of life.

5. COUNT THE LITTLE THINGS

Celebrate your milestones, even if it’s mostly a fail. I celebrated my one breakfast out of seven. Put your drawings up in your room, write about it, tell a friend. Find a way to celebrate the small moments of victory, because they are important. Jesus is rejoicing with you, and so am I. You’re not alone in your chaos, ever. And you don’t have to stay there.

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