It’s no surprise to anyone the level of stress and anxiety that people live under today. Working with people every day for the last 40 years, I get a front row seat view of the inside of people’s homes and how they live. It definitely concerns me when I see the level of chaos and stress people think is normal especially since it so profoundly affects the children as well as one’s health.
The word chaos is defined as “confusion and disorder.” People are living at incredible speeds sometimes going full speed in difference directions. This applies to marriages, families, leadership, every sphere of life.
Phones are ringing, devices are buzzing, and too few families are sitting down for a meal together. We live in a world full of noise added to the internal voices of pressure that are screaming all around us. Constant deadlines, late mortgage, unruly children, elderly parents to take care of, obligations to fulfill, meetings to attend, debt to face, and deadlines to meet.
There is road rage, airplane rage, train rage and bus rage - all kinds of rage happening. People are living on the edge but they are on the wrong edge. Why are people so easily angered? Frustrated? Why so much chaos?
You can spiritualize it if you want and say, We live in an evil world…...and we do.
You can say the devil is out to destroy families and ministries….and he is.
You can say that you don’t have enough money …..most don’t.
You can say your marriage is lousy…..a lot of marriages need attention.
You can say your children are out of control…...there are seasons when that happens.
A lot of the chaos people experience today is simply because we are way too busy, over occupied, exhausted and have no rhythm to our lives or homes.
Most people wake up to a loud buzzer that jars them out of bed….and the rush begins. “Hurry up, let’s go, we’re late “ seems to be the song of the morning. Then its the race to where we are going whether it be work or dropping the children off at school - we drive too fast, rush into daily tasks, rush to pick up the kids, rush to take them to sports, rush home, rush to eat if eating is on the schedule, rush the kids to homework, rush them in the tub, rush them into bed - only to do it all over the next day, week, month, and year.
As a result, a lot of women are crying, men are yelling and the kids have headphones on because they can’t handle hearing it all.
The very things we love to do and feel called to do, we begin to resent because we have allowed chaos and confusion to control us and there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to pursue our passions.
What is the antidote to this over-scheduled, maxed out life that we are living? Rest! We live in a rest starved society and we have allowed it access into our lives, homes and churches.
By now, you are probably saying to yourself, “Verna is sure being overly dramatic today!” Please understand, I am the one who is sitting opposite of hundreds of people crying and yearning for answers. I can’t go home with everyone although sometimes I wish I could so I could help get them on a healthy pathway, but I can’t.
Our home is far from perfect but Jonathan and I have made an intentional effort, over the years, to talk about these issues and make some simple adjustments to put us on and keep us on the road we want to travel.
Here are a few simple, practical steps you can begin to take to cut the chaos in your life. The key is to begin Just take one step!
1. First Things First! (Matthew 11:28,29)
Nothing is more important than our relationship with the Lord. If we are too busy to spend time with Him, we are way too busy. Nothing will ever get in order until we get in order and this is the first step. Time with Jesus. Time in His Presence. Time listening.
2. Face Reality!
Identify the areas that are causing the chaos (disorder and confusion). Are you late all the time? Is it poor planning or do you underestimate how long things will take? Do you go to bed too late and can’t get up or wake up tired all the time? Are your bills always late? Do you need help with your finances? Begin to face reality by making a list of all the areas of life you struggle in. ( I just about filled a notebook when I first did this!)
3. Have a heart to heart talk with your spouse! (family member or friend)
Distribute household assignments- who is stronger in particular areas? Work your strengths!
Talk about who will pay the bills? Who is going to manage the house? Who will drive the children to school? Grocery Shop? Meal Prep? Mow the grass? Laundry?
A lot of chaos can be eliminated just by communicating who is going to do what. If you need to, sit with a counsellor and work these areas out so you can come to agreement.
Agreement is the place of power!
If you are single, a family member or trusted friend can help talk these areas out with you.
4. Talk an honest look at your schedule! A really honest look!
Are you doing too much? Your family doesn’t need to be going 100 miles an hour all the time. Granted, there are seasons when it is fast paced, but it should just be a season not a lifestyle. Your kids don’t need to be involved in every sport and school activity. Proverbs 22:6 instructs parents to train them in “the way they should go.” There is a “way” your children should go and it is not “every way!” Be prayerful about what your children are involved in and how much. Be intentional with your choices.
What children need most is time with you! Yes you!! It’s great that you have a two week vacation every year but how much time are you spending with your children the other 50 weeks of the year? Children spell love TIME!
5. Make Family Meals A Priority
Schedule them if you have to, but make them a priority. And please, no cell phones on the table! Undivided attention with the ones you are sitting with at the table with. No beeps or buzzes allowed at the table.
Slow down - set the table when possible. You do it for company, do it for your family. Make a memory!
6. Attend Church and Serve
Contrary to popular opinion, your spirit man is the most important part of you so take good care of your spiritual life and live on full. One of the most important ways to do that is to attend a vibrant, life-giving church and get involved and serve. There is nothing and noone that can take the place of your church family, the leadership of a good Pastor, and the joy and fulfillment that comes from serving. There are definitely things that should be cut from most of our schedules, but church attendance isn’t one of them!
7. Simplify As Much As Possible
Make sure you are doing only what you are supposed to be doing. Every family’s path and every church’s path is different. Don’t compare your assignment to any one else’s. Stay steady with God’s mandates for your family or church.
8. Have Fun!
Dr. Don Colbert says to stay healthy we need ten good belly laughs a day. He’s not talking about a few giggles, but ten hearty belly laughs. The kind that makes you beg for mercy! When is the last time you laughed? Really laughed? God wants you to enjoy life and be full of laughter and joy. Laughter relieves stress, increases blood flow, eliminates toxins from the body and a multitude of other benefits. A merry heart is truly like medicine. (Proverbs 17:22)
9. Rest is Essential
Just about everyone is familiar with the Ten Commandments. Right up there with the thou shalt not murder, lie, commit adultery, etc is the reminder to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.
This should get our attention. I don’t believe the Sabbath is necessarily a specific day, but we are to honor the spirit of the Sabbath - we are required to take a day of rest, relaxation and refreshing for our spirit, soul and body. God knew we would need it and He is a lot smarter than we are. He knows us better than we know ourselves. We all need a weekly day of rest.
Psalm 119:96 (Amp) reminds us that “everything human has its limits.” We are humans and we have limits. Rest is required for us to live long and live strong!
These are just a few suggestions for you to consider as you evaluate your life, home and ministry. Do what you need to do to eliminate the chaos (confusion and chaos) in your life. Just take one step toward a divine rhythm and enjoy life to its fullest!