I spent the better part of the afternoon and early evening rearranging my office. Coming from a person that doesn’t love change–but loves order–it was a bit of a painful, yet refreshing experience. A couple of weeks ago, just several days before all the students returned to campus, I had the opportunity to get a different desk. Considering the fact that my former desk was functional, but was HUGE for my smallish office, I was thrilled at the prospect of getting one that was more flexible in size (and has a great built-in light!). The new desk would be great, but the timing was about as bad as it could be! The week before students come and the first week that they’re here are about the busiest days of the year on campus. Think Macy’s on the day after Thanksgiving! We have a very integrated campus when it comes to faculty and staff involvement and so I end up playing several roles when it comes to those first two weeks and I was not in any mood to play Trading Spaces with my office. And yet, because of the disdain I had for my old desk and the sweet built-in light, I packed up my desk and prepared to rearrange.
On the appointed day, (with much anticipation, I might add) I opened my door to see my new desk in it’s proper position. Unfortunately because this new one was shorter on one side and longer on the other, it left about an 8 inch swath between the desk and a bookshelf through which I might squeeze. My co-worker said, “That’s a bruise waiting to happen.” And right she was! I’ve gotten at least 2 since my new arrangement happened! So, finally today I invested 3.5 hours of my life to bring a little order to the chaos that was my office. I cleaned out filing cabinets, moved a very-full (and very dusty!) bookshelf (which made me temporarily wish that I wasn’t such a bibliophile, but just temporarily! I do love my books!), and separated the two parts of the desk to make my office more inviting. If someone would have seen me an hour before I was done, they would have thought that a tornado came my way, but by now, everything looks like it’s been exactly where it is for months. The new arrangement is fantastic! My office looks twice as big, is comfortable and looks like a place that welcomes people to come and “sit a spell,” instead of getting an answer to their question and moving on to the next task on their list. Looking at the new arrangement makes me wonder why I waited 3 years to push things around a bit since I was never really happy with how it formerly was.
Change is inevitable, they say. But that doesn’t make it easy. I suppose that’s a good thing. Establishing patterns are part of Christian discipleship. Sometimes the patterns (or disciplines, to use a not very fun sounding word) carry us through the times in our lives when our motivation can’t. But patterns can sometimes kill, or at least bruise, us spiritually. We get used to playing a certain role in a community, or doing the things that we know will keep us safe and (moderately) happy, or doing what we’ve always done because even if we aren’t totally happy, at least we know what to expect. And then, every now and then, something happens to jar us into a new reality. We get sick, get a new job, take a risk, watch someone else get sick, get a new job or take a risk and we realize that the patterns that we’ve been living in have constricted us to a place where we’re no longer trusting God with the future, but rather controlling it (or at least attempting to) with our well-worn patterns.
Clearly rearranging my office is nothing compared to the kind of changes that really shock our systems and instill in us a sense of the awareness of God’s provision at EVERY level in life. And yet, God speaks, even through rearranging an office. The message that he’s whispering to me is that what may feel inconvenient, difficult, or even painful in the moment can serve to free us from our status quo and open us to the winds of change that blow through from time to time. And at least right now, some of the clutter (and dust!) is gone.