From social media pictures it’s clear that back to school season has arrived. I love those first day photos that have been a tradition in our house. This year my twins made a sign that said, “Last First Day.” Wow… it’s crazy to think it is their last first day of school since they are beginning their senior year!
Back to school season isn’t just about that first day picture though. Even when all my kids are out of the house, I know there will still be a return to routine during this time of year. I’ve been working on my women’s Bible study schedule and will be meeting with other middle school youth group leaders to plan out the coming season this week. My calendar is also beginning to fill up with sporting events, small group meetings, a church picnic, volunteering schedules and other great fall opportunities.
I wonder, how is your email inbox right now? Is it full of dates to write down, requests for you to sign up for things, or links to forms to fill out? As contentment has been on my mind a lot in the past year in writing a women’s Bible study on the book of Numbers, I was reminded of the correlation between preparation and contentment. What I mean is that some of the discontent in our lives can be laid at the feet of disorganization or poor planning.
I can remember several occasions when I had a child in kindergarten who needed a show-and-tell item that started with the letter of the week. We would be looking around in the car on the way to school to try to find something because, truthfully, I just wasn’t very organized. I often forgot to sign papers and double booked myself for playdates with other moms. Discontentment at my lack of planning spilled over to my children whenever I forgot things. I learned that I had to write details on a calendar and live by a to-do list in order to keep everything straight.
Organization can help us with contentment so that we aren’t continually dropping balls but are able to follow through on our responsibilities. While God isn’t rigid, He does show us the benefits of organization. Failing to plan at times can mean planning to fail. However, since some people have more of a natural bent toward organization than others, we must not be too hard on ourselves. If we are more of a “fly by the seat of our pants” kind of person, we shouldn’t compare our level of structure against that of others. What is organized for one personality type might seem like chaos to another. In addition, some seasons of life require us to modify the level of organization we can truly maintain. Toddlers, teenagers, work deadlines, or other life circumstances can put a wrench in our best laid plans for order. So, let’s give ourselves grace in accordance with our particular situation.
I wonder, as we approach the upcoming fall season with school, home, work, church, and community commitments, where could you benefit from a little more structure in your life?
I know that I need a better plan for housework and answering emails right now. I am praying that God will help me get more organized in these areas. It might mean delegating some responsibilities or setting a designated time to tackle these tasks. I find that usually I don’t need to work harder but smarter—with an intentional plan. For you it may mean buying a new planner or starting a new system. Last year I tried doing calendar and to-do lists digitally. My husband and I used a phone app that synced with our computer. It sounded great in theory, but I found that writing things down is part of what helps me remember. Typing it into my phone or laptop just didn’t help me wrap my head around my commitments in the same way. My friend Barb introduced me to a planner called Create 365. I LOVE it. I can see the month at a glance, make to-lists for each day in the weekly pages, and write memory verses in the side notes section. This is one small way that preparation has brought more contentment in my life.
For you, it may be the opposite. You may need to throw away a planner that isn’t working for you and go digital. Perhaps you need a better system for time management, housework, or scheduling doctor’s appointments. While the God we worship is multi-faceted and complex, He is a God of order. First Corinthians 14:33a tells us, “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.”
We certainly see this aspect of His character fleshed out in the book of Numbers. I’m sure people-moving over a million through a wilderness could have been chaos. Instead we find organization and preparation bringing order. Now this obviously didn’t eliminate all complaining. The Israelites still grumbled about their leaders and food options, but we don’t hear them whining about stepping on each other’s toes in traveling because of the organized system God laid out for them.
Making wise preparations doesn’t guarantee contentment in every area, but it can help us curtail the discontent associated with poor planning. I hope your back to school fall preparations are going well and you leave some margin on those calendars for rest and reflection.
If you haven’t already jointed the Contentment Project for September 4-10th, get signed up today! It’s a great way to get intentional through focusing on God’s blessings and character rather than all the problems flying at us. I know I am really looking forward to it. You can get all the details here: http://melissaspoelstra.com/contentment-project/ or go directly to the sign up here: http://eepurl.com/cVSi5v.
Happy planning and organizing!