Our culture has a natural tendency toward order. Look at the infrastructure of our cities, the roads, the transportation systems. We regularly schedule meetings and appointments where timeliness is of great importance. "Streamlining" has become the greatest feat of corporations and our education system is completely reliant on order. Our children develop knowledge in math, science, and literature for a better means of communication and to help them understand the world around them. Even the words written on this page would be impossible to express without our obsession for order.
As individuals, when we are lacking order, we strive for it. Many times we put pressure on ourselves to get our lives "in order,” or to attain more order than the people around us. In fact, the only time when order seems disregarded in our culture is as a distinct expression of acceptance for our own human imperfection. This is often seen in modern art and can be taken to the opposite extreme. As our culture is more filled with order, our art becomes more haphazard and chaotic. An expression that none of us were meant to fit within the confines of a cookie-cutter environment, but, just like each piece of art, we offer a unique value to the world around us.
Order offers great value to our lives. Pursuing order can save us time, money and energy. But sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves. The order in our communities and our households is supposed to work for us, not against us. It’s supposed to aid relationships and bring us a greater sense of peace.
We can all work on improving the order in our lives, but most of us can also work on decreasing our compulsion for pursuing perfection. Orderliness, like all the virtues, is best represented on a spectrum with disorder on one side and compulsion at the other extreme. When we lack order in our lives, it can become stressful for ourselves and others. However, when we demand too much order, we no longer allow ourselves to be human. At this extreme, we may hinder ourselves and others from pursuing the beautiful qualities that make each of us unique. As we pursue order, it’s important that we find balance and learn to set realistic expectations for ourselves and our families.
As spring beckons us to clean and organize, let us not forget to find beauty in the balance. Give ourselves the opportunity to grow in order but also the grace that allows us to thrive together as the beautiful people we are.