The last time we moved we staged our home. We showed a Pottery Barn catalog to our kids and explained that we needed to keep our house looking like we lived in that catalog. We later found out that one of our children was telling people we were planning to live in a barn. Apparently something got lost in the translation!
The reason staging works so well is that it sells an illusion. Our first realtor told us, “People want to buy the illusion of peace. They need to believe there will be enough storage space and room to relax that their life-clutter cannot follow them here.” The implication is that they can leave their internal angst in the old home with the tiny kitchen and inadequate storage.
The trouble is it really is an illusion. Kids don’t play more kindly in a welcoming and tidy playroom; selfishness still gets strewn about the room like toys littering the floor. Little hearts are pierced by the wrath of a mama driven by the “order-idol” with the same agony of stepping on a Lego barefoot in the dark.
But the temptation to live a “staged” life is real. And, all too often, a tidy home becomes a disguise for a troubled heart.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the benefits of living in an orderly home. It is helpful to be able to find your keys when you are ready to leave. A good schedule is a wonderful tool to make sure you are doing what is truly important. A home that is tidy and inviting pushes back the chaos of the harried world just outside the door. It invites peace – and Jesus is the Prince of Peace!
We need to be careful to seek true peace and not settle for traces of it. When we stage a counterfeit peace in our homes we often sacrifice true peace in our hearts.
Don’t get me wrong – God is a God of order. God has established order. Order is intrinsic to his very character. And it is revealed in his image in humanity that we mimic order in life, science, government, relationships, business models…. There is no avenue down which man has trod where order has not come into play. But I have to constantly remind myself: God is a God of order, but order should not be my god.
What will I gain by worshiping order, rather than a God of order? Or maybe the better question is, what do I have to lose by worshiping order? Because the God of order is also the God of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)? Do I strive to embody these character traits with as much passion as I pursue a clutter-free counter top?
And what amount of “order” honors God if I have destroyed a child with harsh words to obtain it? What amount of “peace” do I really achieve if everything is in its place, but my husband is forced to exist in a box by the door I’ve given him for his personal effects?
This is a struggle for me. So in my brief moments of sanity, I ask myself some questions to help bring order to my heart. And I try to answer them with truths from scripture.
Will I listen to the voice of condemnation when my organization fails? Or when I realize I have been worshiping order and repent? “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” Romans 8:1.
Am I pointing my family to Jesus or to organization as their means of salvation? Am I relying on Jesus or organization for my salvation? “… if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” Romans 10:9-10
Am I seeking the benefits of an orderly home over the benevolence of an orderly God? “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
I find rest when I remember that the God of order has an answer for my angst that organization can never achieve.