I remember even when she was just one year old she would line up her little toys in a straight line across the floor. One time when she had turned to get a few more toys, I nudged one out of order. She looked back, and noticing the one out of order, she glared up at me, pushing it back in line. We laughed.
When she was two I remember staying in a hotel one night while traveling with my Mom and sister. She was trying to lay out her small pink blankie – the one she took everywhere. For ten minutes, she would hold onto the corners of the blanket and flush it into the air. She became more and more frustrated and then the tears flowed. She wanted the blanket to fall to the floor and lay out perfectly. I laid the blanket out for her and she curled up on top of it, falling quickly to sleep.
I could try to recall the numerous times this type of situation has replayed itself in some way during my little girl’s six years of life. Maybe it was at her parent-teacher conference in Preschool when the teacher mentioned that Beca would return to the toy shelf after the others had picked up, to put the toys in order. Or the time when I asked her to put the shoes back away and she sorted the entire pile of her and her siblings shoes by color and use. Becca likes order.
Last week I taught Becca how to load the dishwasher. After a few times of loading it together, I decided that yesterday would be her first solo attempt at it. I brought her the stepstool to get started, and then left her to her task for fear I might exasperate her with constant instruction if I stayed in the room. A half an hour later, I checked on her. She was upset that the task was taking so long. Peering into the dishwasher, I noticed why. She had sorted the silverware and arranged it in the basket. She had sorted the cups, and they were all grouped by type with handles perfecly aligned. Hearing her soft tears of frustration as she said, “This is taking so long!” I responded, “they don’t have to be in order sweat pea, they just have to be clean.” I hesitated.
My soul had heard the same message that just spilled from my lips – “you don’t have to be in order, you just need to be clean.”
Don’t I do the same thing with God? I strive to get myself in order, my life in order before I come to Him. He whispers come to me first – before you are clean, before you are orderly. It is Christ and the Holy Spirit who makes order out of chaos, peace out of panic. He spoke and the world came to be – a world that reflects the orderly nature of God. He kissed my body into life inside my birth mother’s womb – a body with systems, processes, things neatly bundled and packaged -orderly.
That day in the garden, when Adam saw only what he didn’t have, rather than what he did – order, perfection, holy communion with God – that was the day disorder entered the world, and we have been fighting it ever since. It shows up in our marraiges, in our relationships with our children. It shows up in our frustration, in our laziness, in our hearts and minds when we still today, look at what we don’t have (materialism, power, self-focus) rather than what we do (God himself – a free gift, a complete gift).
I wonder if I need to correct my six year old – to let her know that her world will not always be in order. No, the world will do that. She will have failures, competitions lost, plans disrupted, cheese moved. I can train her today though, to look to the true God who orchestrates order. To know in her heart what really matters – perfection of self? No. Perfection of situation? Not possible. But perfection in Christ – to be made perfect daily – minute by minute through the washing of His word – his grace falling on us over and over again, cleansing us from our wickedness, and dare I say, the sins I will still commit.
“We don’t need to be in order, we just need to be clean”.
May the pieces of my life be arranged by His plan, not my own. May I find peace and assurance in His hands, not my own. May my heart know that this orderly world was created for our pleasure, to bring us to Him, not to the world.