We all want to know how to organize our lives, and I am fond of saying that we start not with the closets but with our attitudes. I use the tagline “organize your attitude” – but what does that mean? Is your attitude something you can actually change? Does it mean faking a smile or pretending what went wrong was actually ok?
There isn’t faking involved, but there is humility and repentance.
Yes, you can actually change your attitude by deliberately and intentionally changing your thoughts – that’s something we have a responsibility to do. When what we feel or think does not align with God’s revealed will for our lives (which is gratitude), the only obedient option we have is to repent, to change them with the help of the Holy Spirit.
The real key to being organized is your mindset. Being organized is about being prepared, about knowing what you need, knowing where things are, knowing what must be done and when. So, organization starts in our minds.
Anxiety is worrying about the future, worrying about what must be done. Laziness is not caring at all. Organization seeks to find that middle ground that is not controlling and yet is ready.
On top of that, our attitude, our mindset, is a thing that itself needs to be organized. That is, we have to compose our feelings, control our actions, and direct our attention. Organizing our attitudes is about putting our thoughts in the right place, just like organizing a closet is putting items in their right place. If there isn’t a “right place” for a particular thought or emotion or idea, it needs to be decluttered. That’s what it is to organize your attitude.
As Elisabeth Elliot says in Let Me Be a Woman:
The way you keep your house, the way you organize your time, the care you take in your personal appearance, the things you spend your money on, all speak loudly about what you believe. The beauty of Thy peace shines forth in an ordered life. A disordered life speaks loudly of disorder in the soul.
Our inner lives and our outer lives are not two disparate and unrelated things. One affects the other. Outer chaos creates stress and confusion. Inner chaos works itself out in how we live our lives. Fixing either kind of disorder is the project of a lifetime, not the project of a day, of a weekend, or of a month. Organizing our attitudes is something we must continually be doing.
Related: Three Keys to an Organized Attitude
After all, seeing disorder, repenting of it, fixing it, and learning what to do instead is sanctification. Organizing the house can teach us about organizing our souls – it’s something needing to be done over and over again, because unless tended to, everything in this world tends toward disorder.
We want a house zapped with order, but even if we got that wish, it wouldn’t stay that way for long unless we change our habits, our approach to life.
We want a life and a soul zapped with holiness, but we don’t get that wish until the Last Day. Until then, God promises gradual change – sanctification. So we can work out that gradual change internally, relationally, and even domestically.
An organized attitude isn’t faking a smile or grinning and bearing life. It’s constantly reminding ourselves of truth and not panicking when we notice we sin, and also not ignoring it, but rather repenting of it, receiving forgiveness, and gratefully pressing on to do what we called to do. To organize your attitude is to bring your thoughts into alignment with God’s Word, every day, every situation, every time.
Related: Fill your mind with truth.
Much of repenting is noticing that we’re thinking wrong things or feeling wrong things, confess it to God, and ask Him to change our hearts and renew our minds. That’s not a totally passive thing. We don’t get zapped, we get given the strength to choose the right over the wrong, to choose the true over the false.
To control our thoughts, we must first simply be aware of our thoughts. Only then will it be POSSIBLE to notice and direct and direct them. Just because we think something doesn’t mean it’s true or necessary or good or right – we have the ability to stop, notice, and reject a thought or change a thought. Not only do we have that ability, we have that responsibility. This is what it is to “set” our minds on things above and to meditate – it’s to stop simply thinking whatever default ideas pop into our heads and actively direct our thoughts to truth.
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?…You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope thou in God’– instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do.
Today, be aware of your thoughts and pray that the Holy Spirit will renew your mind and give you both gratitude and grace to press on in the good work God has called you to do.
Organize your attitude.
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