Learning to Re-Order Our lives

In God’s world, we learn to recognize that there is an established order to creation. Order came out of chaos and millions of years later, we are still trying to find the order that God put in place. One of the great gifts of understanding creation and our own creation and humanity is to re-call this sacred order of how life works.When we experience so much dis-order and chaos in our lives, we need to do some work and allow God to do what God does best to re-order our lives. Let me explain.The order of our seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall mark a distinct patter of how God has given order to the earth. There is an order of everything that is alive and has life. Human beings have the amazing distinction of taking the longest time to mature into full adulthood if the order of life established by God. Birds take a few weeks to lay their eggs, hatch and grow up. Some forms of life take a shorter span of time than weeks while others take longer to develop. But no form of life takes longer than you and I to grow up! The order of how we grow up and grow healthy is the subject of numerous studies and books.As babies, there are certain non-negotiables that are established which help determine our health, viability and sustainability. We need food. We need care. We need sleep. We need touch and eye-contact with other human beings. Take one of these basic primal needs away in God’s established order of life and a baby will not thrive. Understanding this order--this way that we mature-- helps us raise our own children to be healthy and mature. Order helps.We can see how order helps us as citizens. The framers of the United States Constitution is really a written order of how laws help maintain a civil order in a democracy. Order gives definition. Order gives an understanding of how life needs to work. Order helps us live and thrive.Learning about Order in NatureI live in an area that is classified as “high desert.” I am breathing thin air up here in the Colorado Rockies! I live at 9,200 feet in altitude. The soil is all crushed granite. I try to plant shrubs and flowers, yet most have not survived. I have to augment the soil, water constantly and give care and attention to each shrub or perennial that I plant. Nothing survives up here without great care. Nothing.I planted several shrubs in early summer. The man at the nursery, where I bought these shrubs gave me careful instructions to augment the soil—to place rich, deep, dark humus in the hole that I am to dig. I need to mix and create a better condition for the plant to take root and to get established. To augment the soil is the first thing. Do the first thing first. That’s the order of things. Don’t skip a step. Don’t pretend you know something you don’t know anything about. There is an order of ‘how to do’ plants that I have to learn and pay attention to. I can’t skip a step. I simply cannot buy a flowering plant, dig a hole and put the plant in the ground without first, understanding how to plant and grow things in a high-altitude zone.Isn’t it amazing that in our attempt to live in an established order of life, none of us came with a manual that helped our parents know how to augment the soil of our own life? Our parents just had a baby and off they went into life and off we went into being raised up. Some of us got what we needed. Others of us are still looking for what we need.  When the order gets violated, we are not going to "get" what we hope to get. Order matters.Order Matters in Marriage!When two people get married, they say public vows, which are really statements of order—statements of intent on what they will do and what they will not do. The minister states the vows, “Do you promise to love her in sickness and in health, in good times and in hard times and to be true and faithful to them as long as you live…” The couple then repeats the vows.The vows establish a certain order of how love works. Love does not just work in good times, it must work in hard times. When we say, “in sickness and in health” we do not know then all of the possibilities that will certainly come to challenge that order and vow. When we stand in our gowns and tuxes, we aren’t thinking of her potential to contract breast cancer or his inherent possibility of having early onset Alzheimer’s.   Nevertheless, we somehow believe in an established order or way that love begins and that love will continue to the end. The order of our vows gives  us the promise we need to begin and continue in our marriage.But as they say, “life happens.” As the song writer says, “Life is what happens to you when you’re making plans.”Recognizing Dis-OrderI call this the Dis-Order of our lives. Dis-Order happens when something happens that disrupts our lives. An accident, an interruption into how we thought life would unfold. He gets fired. Her mother dies. Something is wrong with our baby. Our pastor leaves our church. Our best friends get transferred and take the new job leaving us to start over again in the friendship department of our lives.Dis-order happens in our relationships, marriages, health and in our souls.We are experiencing a deep dis-order of things in our world right now. Terrorism. Climate Change. Political knee-jerk reactions. Moral failure. We are jerked this way, then tomorrow a new feeling of being jerked around happens. A certain disintegration of long held values of civility and tolerance have been disrupted. It’s all a sign of our times…. which says this: we have lost our order—our way of doing things. There is a new norm, it seems that feels somewhat chaotic and unpredictable. In the midst of such time, anxiety deepens, nerves get frayed; and civility ceases. It feels chaotic.Dis-order is what happens when the order we thought we had in lives gets disheveled and messed up. For some of us, perhaps all we have know is dis-order. We’ve never known a healthy family; a health father-son relationship. All we have experienced is what we did not have and our sense of neglect, abandonment and starkness dominate our world-view and our self-view. Dis-order happens when our spouse tells us that their love is waning and not waxing. Dis-order happens when we discover missing pieces to our story which completely undoes the orderly sequence of our lives. Dis-order happens when we admit we hate our job; have always hatted our job and feel trapped in our job right now. This happened to Jennifer when she starting connecting the dots about her memories of sexual abuse. It happened to Mike when Mike realized his own father wound—those festering places where Mike finally realized that he did not “get” what he needed to be whole. It happened to Susan when she began to examine her “mother-wound”.This has happened to me as I look back on my own story and can finally own, articulate and share some themes—some realities—some events that happened to me that I wish never would have happened.  [tweetthis]I, like many of you, have been trying to make sense of some of my own chaos and the chaos I may have caused to others.[/tweetthis]I am left, like many of you to either live in my dis-order or to find a way to establish a re-ordering of my life. To do this step is to embrace the Gospel. To omit this step is to resign to survive and not give any opportunity for a sense of resurrection to happen in me—inside me.Learning to Re-Order Our LivesIn the spiritual life, dis-order becomes God’s invitation for us to look more closely at our lives; to listen to our own souls and to hear, yet again the quiet call for us to re-order our lives. Dis-order is God’s invitation to sit upon the potter’s wheel and allow God to work out what was malformed and twisted. To admit dis-order it to confess we need a greater sense of order and understanding that we, alone, possess. To re-order our lives is to put the shattered pieces of our lives together. It is to “work out our salvation” in all the ways we now need to work out the malformed fruits of our dis-order, dysfunction and soulful diseases. To allow a sense of order to reform my dis-order, I learn to pay attention to my desolations--those times when I feel dis-order, experience conflict inside my soul and wonder what is up.The first signs of any dis-order is a certain dis-ease within us—an inner dissonance that is begging for some form of care and attention. Waking up to some form of inner discord and admitting that there is something going on in me, around me or with us that needs attention is the first step. And all it takes to re-order one’s world is the first step—courageously taking the first step.I have found that learning the ways of Jesus is the primary and most important way of re-ordering my life. I have written extensively about this in my book, The Jesus Life: 8 Ways to Recover Authentic Christianity. If you're looking for practical ways to re-order your life, my suggestion would be to start with reading The Jesus Life.Neglected wounds, ignored disappointments, and discounted feelings are not an excuse for us to simply vow to press on, press through and survive. When we ignore that which is within, we are setting ourselves up for failure and a failure to thrive to be sure. There is no real cover-up in trying to re-order one’s world of chaos. There is however, the necessary step of de-constructing of all that went wrong and sorting out the rubble of that which is valuable and can be kept. and is necessary to have to move into the unknown future of our lives.As we age, we are given certain invitations to explore; give attention and expand our own understanding of some of the necessary God-given order to things. We’ve all heard of the mid-life crisis that is a predictable as snow fall in Colorado in the early spring. A crisis, though of any kind, is a treacherous opportunity to wake up and assess what is really going on with us and in us. I say, treacherous because the pathway of life is littered with the lives of men and women who did not navigate well during their marriage “crisis” or vocational “crisis” or faith “crisis.” We’re all going to have certain predictable crises in life and many of us will have massive crisis befall us that shake us to the core and apart from the grace of God, we would not survive the earthquakes that shatter our dreams.We need to experience a re-ordering of our lives so that there came be some sense, some deeper or greater understanding of life, God, relationship and our re-discovered purposes in life. This “re-ordering” comes as we reflect both backward and forward about our lives. This is cultivated and fostered when we learn to live one life, integrated and not divided. It comes when we work through our past--the stuff of our lives that so often disrupts and dis-orders our present life. It comes with the insight of a friend, the reassurance of a spiritual companion. It comes through seizing the next opportunity to wake up and do the work necessary to begin to thrive—and not just survive.  Re-ordering our lives comes as we lean into peace and cultivate peace with in. Peace, joy and love are really the work of God in our lives. Peace and joy are a fruit that is cultivated in time and through time and in this order. There is an order of how one gets to experience peace. We don't buy it. We can't muster it up. A life of peace is cultivated through order, dis-order and re-order.