O is for Order


This series is an alphabetical exploration of 26 options for living well, despite everything. It answers the question–How can we live well, despite problems? 

By getting our lives in order! 

Disorder is a muddle. Havoc. A confusing, chaotic mess. A shambles. High Anxiety! Lawlessness!
Which is to say, disorder is incompatible with living well.
But order naturally deteriorates. The 2nd law of thermodynamics says that without intervention, all things move toward greater entropy and disorder.
We have to INTERVENE in the natural course of things in order to maintain order.
I, like most people, have struggled with getting and keeping my life in order. It took a mind-shift to get me out of chaos.
In seeking order for my life, I was focusing on organizing things, and keeping things tidy.
Tidiness, however, is merely the byproduct of Orderliness.
Orderliness comes from knowing my priorities and living according to my values.
How easy it is let things take their natural course, to get pulled into behaving as if I agree with what “everyone” seems to think is important:

  • The accumulation of wealth and more wealth;
  • Gaining favor with people in a position to return favors;
  • Being popular and/or talented enough to impress people in a position to help me achieve my ambitions;
  • And ultimately having enough charisma, status and power to boss a lot of other people around!

Hold it!
Although I don’t really believe wealth and status are the components of an authentically good life,  I have to consciously intervene, to stop myself from sliding down the slippery slope that dumps me in the rat race.
When my life gets mired in chaotic frenzy, I find at the root of the disorder is a misplacement of priorities.
But when I define what’s good, and put goodness first, I’m able to get my life back in order.
So what, in life, is authentically good?
It’s ultimately a spiritual question, and therefore the answer also has to be spiritual.
Possessing these 3 things, makes life good**:

  • Integrity (the will to do always do the right thing, instead of merely the compliant, complacent or convenient thing);
  • Compassion (respecting the right of all people to live decently and comfortably);
  • Humility (the understanding that I’m no more important than anyone else) .

Have you ever been able to change your habits without first changing your priorities? 
**the answer to the question of “What makes a life good?” is found in the book of Micah, chapter 6 verse 8.

27 thoughts on “O is for Order”

    1. I’m mostly able to fend off the temptation, but, I have to admit, I do sometimes think it would be easier to have a little more wealth….
      and that’s when I start getting into trouble–lack of gratitude, spending time making plans for endeavors that might generate income but won’t satisfy me…
      Thanks for stopping by, Jennifer! It’s always nice to see you.

  1. Fantastic post and I agree with EVERYTHING that you have said.
    I would like to add that to achieve order (ie which in the end is peace and calm), one has to want it enough to strive for it and put it above other things. I know quite a few people who possess those three values (integrity, compassion and humility) and yet their lives are in chaos, they live by chaos. I have seen them put compassion and care for others above ALL else to the detriment of themselves, with an philosophy of: ‘If I have a messy desk and / or a messy home and dart around in a frenzy, but despite that I continually help others, with no time to rest, and no time for myself; then people will see that I am busy, they will see I am helping other people, and they will appreciate me. I will feel significant’.
    So I would add to your list “calm”. It is necessary to possess calm, and it is necessary to include self in the ‘compassion’ value in order to have the good life.

      1. I think Elizabeth puts this very well and adds to your great post here, Tracy. I’m going through one of the most chaotic times of my life at the moment – all the balls are in the air and it’s finding that calm to catch them in the right order that’s the tricky bit. Happy Thanksgiving, one and all.

        1. My simple prayer for you today, Jenny (from Psalm 116), is that you may remain at peace in the knowledge that God has established your life to be good.
          May your juggling job soon come to an end, with much success. <3

        2. Reading the comments here, I do have to butt in and say so sorry to hear that you are going through this chaotic time Jenny…as with Tracy, I do hope that the juggling stops soon and you can catch your breath…
          Tracy, your excellent post certainly does give me pause for thought and I also agree with what Jenny said about Elizabeth adding to it. I’m so overwhelmed right now that I can hardly think straight. Order is paramount, and I do think that it is essential to get our priorities right before we can change a bad habit. Then too, we need to add calm. A few of us could use a healthy does of that right about now…
          Speaking of which, I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving Tracy 🙂

          1. This does tend to be the season for being overwhelmed. Wishing you very much calm in the next days and weeks, dear. And wisdom, to let go of, or put off, whatever isn’t really essential. Blessings to you. 🙂

  2. I love this, Tracy. We are certainly sisters from another mother. 🙂
    Integrity, compassion and humility are the three virtues that I focus on each day. I pray to exhibit all three before I get out of bed each morning and face the world….without these I’m not the best person I can be.

    1. You’ve added another component; prayer is essential for order. I find it keeps my mind and heart focussed and content.
      Yes, we’re sisters. I was thinking about you this morning, hoping that you hear good news back from the contests you entered.
      Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  3. You’re preaching to the choir, Tracy. You’re absolutely right, so why am I so disorganized? When I was teaching, the desk in my office held stacks of papers and notes and essays that seemed disorganized, but in a heartbeat I could find anything I needed. It worked for me then, but now disorganization is my nemesis. Now it fills the guest room, the storage shed, and most of the shelves in the computer room.
    Okay, hold me accountable: We leave for Kansas in two weeks. At one hour a day, that’s 14 hours. I’m going to set a timer every day and starting with the guest room, I will sort, box up, donate, throw away and clean out the clutter. I will get organized.
    Your post was the tipping point for me, Tracy.

    1. My hunch is, you hold on to things because you think they will be useful “some day.” ?
      I have the same impulse; but having moved so frequently I was forced into weeding out all the extra stuff.
      Confession: If left to my own devices, I would have been a crazy pack rat. But I have a strong-willed husband who insisted I learn to keep things tidy. And I’m glad he did; life is sweeter (more peaceful; less stressful) when it’s orderly.
      I’ll ask you in two weeks how it went… Wishing you all joy and peace in the process of de-cluttering. <3

  4. Such a wonderful post Tracy, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that order comes from making sure that we have our priorities straight. Sometimes that can be the hardest thing for me. Anyone can tidy things up so they have the appearance of being orderly, but I believe that true order comes from a much deeper place within ourselves.

  5. Tracy … I agree that disorganization leads to chaos. But I still need to get a handle on orderliness. At school, I do try to have everything in its place (but I don’t always succeed). At home, there’s way too much stuff around here to weed out and determine what’s worth keeping and what should be thrown out. I’ll try to set a time limit for this to happen. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. 😉

    1. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, too, Judy.
      Orderliness is a goal, a process. I’m not claiming to have it under control, I do, however, aspire to a better grasp of it.
      Step by step, little by little, we get there, if we know where we’re headed, right? 🙂 (and it’s easier to get there, when we have friends to talk to while we’re on the journey. <3

  6. Karin Van den Bergh

    Excellent post and you nailed it Tracy when saying that order comes from setting our priorities right, something I often struggle with. I can so much relate with your findings that in seeking order and structure we start to clean up and make things tidy. It took a while for me before I finally got this. The answer may well be in the question you raised; were you able to change your habits without first changing your priorities? hmm that’s a good one. Changing habits comes from setting priorities and determine what’s really important. Totally agree.

    1. I’ve really struggled with this, too, Karin– There’s a difference between just saying, “yes, that’s important to me,” and putting my whole-hearted commitment behind my sentiments.
      I’m finally figuring out that what I do, speaks louder than what I tell myself about myself. And changing my priorities entails taking new action, not merely thinking new thoughts… right?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *