It doesn’t seem like such a landmark to be brainstorming organization strategies for one’s house. But for me, it is. The other day, for no reason in particular, I had an idea for how to keep things in better order, and I went out and bought the baskets that I needed to do it. I was energized, motivated, and focused. I was even excited. And feeling that way was a gift.
I’ve lived in my house about two and a half years, but it still feels new to me. I haven’t really settled in, haven’t really developed routines, haven’t really made it mine. I just haven’t had the resources, in any sense of the word.
When I bought my house, I was in the midst of a quietly happy four-ish months of truly engaging with life. It wasn’t a period of naivete or blissful ignorance; to the contrary, it was a period of blessed relief that I had come to after months of weighted darkness.
In this relief period, I would see an ingredient in the grocery store and I had to get it and bake it into something and share it with others. I trained for my first half-marathon, thrilling in mapping my training routes, checking off work-outs on my plan, and running further than I had ever run before. I finally found a Christian author I could connect with (Donald Miller) and I started putting my thoughts into written word with the intent to share them. My best friend and I bought stylish dresses and giggled and relaxed into how adult and attractive we looked. I started looking at houses, and when I found one I adored, I went back to my apartment and started packing. I sorted through everything I owned, effectively and efficiently throwing away and giving away and organizing. I could do this whole life thing, and I was loving do it.
The very day I signed the paperwork to close the deal on my house, my dad went into the hospital. Three weeks later, he passed away. And so commenced many, many months of doing only what needed to be done, doing only what mattered most. While keeping things straight as much as I could for things that involved other people, the things that involved just me–like my house–were in a state of barely managed chaos. And, to varying degrees over the past few years, it has remained so.
(As an aside–I’m not saying I was doing great until the tragedy of my father’s death. While the months leading up to it held an unusual amount of joy for me, they were joyous mostly in contrast to the years before it. Sometimes, understandably so, people have assumed I began to struggle emotionally and sought counseling because of this tragedy. However, my recognition of my struggles and seeking counseling was well before my dad was sick. Of course, losing my father was a huge complicating factor in the struggles I was already experiencing. But there doesn’t have to be some obvious personal reason to struggle–if thinking you don’t have a reason to struggle is your excuse for not seeking help, stop telling yourself that and get the help you need).
There’s a song Amy Grant released in the 90s called “Takes a Little Time.” “It takes a little time, sometimes, to get your feet back on the ground…” I thought of the line the other day when I was realizing how great it felt to be motivated. I would change one word in the song, though. After experiencing a significant change or a difficult time, it takes a LOT of time, sometimes, to get your feet back on the ground. Even then, it’s not as though there is one instant you can point to as “this is when I recovered.” You also aren’t going to get back to the same way things were. Your feet may be back on the ground, but it’s different ground, and you’re different, too.
Be patient with yourself. Recognize your small victories, but show yourself grace when you fall short. Choose to confide in people who will encourage you, not try to fix you. Don’t expect to overcome immediately or even completely, no matter how determined you are. You’re human. You need time. Let it run its course.