A Procrastinator’s Reflection on Orderliness

by Kelly Gore
You’re picking up toys on the living room floor for the fifteenth time...matching up  socks...sweeping up lost Cheerios that got away...

Pinecrest’s Virtue of the Month for September was “Orderliness.” I think most moms can relate to the Sisyphean task of cleaning up after their children day after day, as described in the opening lyrics to Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, Do Everything: and how easy it is to become discouraged when it seems like each attempt to create order out of chaos never seems to make any lasting impact. Nine years ago, when my brother and sister-in-law gifted me this CD, I was still living with my parents and in a totally different state of life. At that time, my environment was orderly, only because my mother is the queen of cleanliness and organization. In fact, it seems ironic for me to be writing about this particular virtue, as I now know that when left to my own devices, and especially when a toddler and a baby are added to the equation, I fail pretty miserably at achieving order most of the time.

I’m a serial procrastinator who tends to put off housework until it seems insurmountable. My mom, on the other hand, will apologize for “the mess” when her house is clearly immaculate. I am more willing to concede that things are a mess when it looks like Marjory from Fraggle Rock has taken up permanent residence in our living room!  Mom washes her car so frequently that it still looks brand new, whereas, the last time I cleaned out our car, it resembled a mobile Toys “R” Us, littered with enough stale cereal to feed an army. She lovingly folds and sorts her clean clothes immediately after washing. Our laundry resides in a crumpled heap on top of the dryer for longer than I’d care to admit. Mom might be single handedly responsible for the Clorox wipe shortage currently afflicting the nation, and she’s one of the tidiest people I know.

Not surprisingly, when I found myself struggling to write a reflection on orderliness, I figured it would be best to seek out the perspective of a woman who, believe it or not, irons bed sheets. So I interviewed Mom:

What do you think is the greatest benefit of having the virtue of orderliness?

It keeps your life in order. When I make the bed and do chores, I feel that my life is in order and it has a calming effect. The state of my house parallels my outlook on life, and  orderliness leads to a positive, happy state of mind.

In what stage of your life has orderliness been the biggest challenge for you?

As a kid, when I had to share a room with my sister (who is NOT into orderliness)! When my kids were young, messes never bothered me because I would just clean everything up at the end of the night and ultimately had control over the state of the house.

When has it been the easiest?

When I was single and in charge of my own room. Also, when I was newly married and before having children. In marriage prep, we had to formulate hypothetical budgets separately, and I had allocated a lot of money to cleaning supplies and hardly any to food - Keith’s budget was the opposite!

What words of advice do you have for someone who struggles with orderliness?

Start with something small, and reward little accomplishments. That way, you will have positive associations with cleaning, even though the act itself isn’t something that you enjoy.

Do you enjoy the actual process of cleaning?

Yes! The process of cleaning brings me pleasure. Putting things in order, maintaining the lawn, cleaning, it all makes me happy - especially when I see the results. Nobody else gets a thrill out of seeing a freshly pressed crease on their sleeve like I do!

Suffice it to say that If everyone could somehow muster just a tiny bit of the enthusiasm my Mom feels for tidying up, I’m sure we would all find it much easier to live an orderly life. However, even if the virtue of orderliness doesn’t come naturally to you, as it does for her, it is still attainable if you work at it and form good habits. Steven Curtis Chapman continues his song with en exhortation to live the spirit of 1 Corinthians 10:31 - “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 

Every task, no matter how mundane, repetitive or trivial it may seem, can draw us closer to God if we approach it with the right attitude. The inner peace and mental clarity that comes from having one’s exterior surroundings in order should be a huge motivator to strive for this virtue, and I hope that this post inspires you to take some simple steps towards leading a more orderly life. First things first! 

Kelly Gore teaches Middle School Art at Pinecrest Academy. She graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Dallas, where she majored in Art. In 2011, she completed her Master of Fine Arts degree in Visual Arts through the Marywood University MFA Program for Working Professionals. She can be reached at kgore@pinecrestacademy.org.
Pinecrest Academy is a private PreK-12 Catholic school located in Cumming, South Forsyth, just minutes from Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Milton and Suwanee. We serve families of all faiths seeking a Christian education for their children. To learn more about our unique educational philosophy, visit our Welcome page.

The mission of Pinecrest Academy is reflected in the word Integer, which is Latin for “whole,” or “entire,” and reflects our goal of forming the whole child as an authentic “Person in Christ.” The school motto Semper Altius, means “Always Higher,” and challenges our students, parents, staff and faculty to strive for excellence in all areas of Integral Formation® - intellectual, spiritual, human and apostolic.