The solution to chaos

peace in chaos

They say life is in the details.  I hope they’re right, because most days it feels like my life is made up of nothing else.

As a mother, each one of my days is filled with so much minutiae that it can quickly become overwhelming.  I have to create three meals a day for four people who don’t eat on the same schedule or in the same place.  Add all that up—along with grocery shopping, food prep, and clean-up—and just feeding my family is almost a full-time job.  A job made up of seemingly infinite tiny details.

And then there’s keeping us all clothed and keeping the house clean and keeping up with the gardening and keeping track of the finances and keeping my kids from turning WWF on each other and…well, you get the picture.   Oh yes, and then there’s my job—writing and proofreading for two different ministries.

I know that I’m not alone here.  I know that every one of us is faced with a seemingly endless list of tasks every day.

Finding balance, finding peace, in the midst of our thousands of responsibilities—it can seem like an impossible dream.  We’ve come up with a lot of coping mechanisms in our culture—meditation, exercise, a healthy diet, caffeine, alchohol, Netflix.  But no matter what activities or chemicals we use to manage our stress, they all fall down at some point.  We’ve all experienced those moments when our favorite stress-management technique isn’t enough to keep our anxious thoughts at bay.

And that’s why we need Jesus.  Because it is, quite simply, impossible to maintain “perfect peace” as imperfect people in a very, very imperfect and chaotic world.

But there is a secret formula.  I came across it this week as I was reading Paul’s letter to the Philippians:   “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, with prayer and petition, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Messiah Jesus.”

Wow. What? You mean peace is as simple as talking to God and asking Him for help? In my experience, the answer is yes.

I’ve recently come out of a long season of anxiety.  In the midst of it, I thought that my circumstances were to blame (“I’m too busy, I have too many responsibilities”) or that my personality was to blame (“I’m just not good at multi-tasking”).

But then it occurred to me that I hadn’t been spending much time with Jesus lately.  I hadn’t read the Bible more than a handful of times in the previous month.  And I hadn’t sat quietly in prayer and meditation either.  I felt God gently reminding me that His Love is the only place where I can find peace that isn’t dependent on my circumstances, or even on my own capability to deal with my circumstances.  That verse—“the peace of God, which transcends understanding”—how perfect.  Because—as is becoming increasingly clear to me—I need a peace that has nothing to do with how neat or messy my life is, that isn’t dependent on my ability to categorize or compartmentalize my many responsibilities and anxieties.  And that’s the sweet relief of this peace…It is wholly dependent on God’s love, His willingness to meet me.  And all I have to do is pray.

So, I offer a challenge.  Try this experiment: For one week, instead of trying to manage your stress by scheduling your life down to the last detail or by ignoring everything and hiding your head in the the sand, try praying. Take 10 minutes each morning (or night, or lunch-break…though I find that morning works best, even for this very non-morning person), and tell God about all the things you’re anxious about.

And then ask for His help.  Get detailed.  Don’t be afraid to go beyond platitudes and rote prayer-styles.  Get real with Him.  And see if He doesn’t get down on His knees and reach His hands into the dirt and chaos of your life and start to make things make sense.  And even if your circumstances don’t start to align themselves right away, see if you don’t start feeling less anxious about them, less like the weight of the universe is on your shoulders.

I’ve found that God has been quick to show up when I invite Him to.  I pray that this week you will experience His nearness and love too.