I ordered this book for my church library with the intention of someday reading it myself. Someday.
Sure, it sounds positive, especially the subtitle, A Woman’s Guide to Conquering Chaos. I knew that my heart could use some organizing. I knew that there is plenty of chaos in my life. But I put it off. I didn’t want to be convicted. It’s not like I have horrible housekeeping skills or anything like that. There’s just something about overly organized people that can irritate me, if I’m being honest. I want to feel free, not controlling. I didn’t want to get more organized, thank you very much. I wanted to just hang out right where I am.
But I am familiar with Staci’s writing. I knew that she’s not the froofy church-lady type who was going to tell me to freeze casseroles and buy days-of-the-week underwear for my kids. Staci always focuses on the heart of the gospel in her writing. And so I knew her book was going to be good, and I knew that it would bless me to read it.
Eastin doesn’t write from the perspective of the queen of organization. She opens with her own disorganized testimony. This has led her to the conviction that “disorganization steals your joy. It causes you to go through your life frazzled and stressed. It causes friction with your husband and makes you snap at your children. It makes you perform ministry tasks grudgingly. It prevents you from developing friendships, because you’re always rushing from one task to the next You don’t feel like you’re doing anything well, let alone to the glory of God” (11). She had me at “steals your joy.” I can relate to that.
Staci does write from the perspective that disorganization is a heart issue. She points out some sin issues of which disorganization is the side effect. So the book isn’t filled with tips on how to fix the side-effect. She doesn’t offer formulas, seven steps, or a magical chart. “We never conquer sin by adding more rules” (12). Amen to that!
But in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but remember what irritates me about the real organized people. When I never see you with a wrinkle in your clothes, when your house never has a thing out of place, or if your car looks like you only give rides to Martha Stewart, I am suspicious. I am suspicious that there is a sin-issue going on in the overly organized person’s heart as well.
And to my pleasure, I found Staci addressing some of my suspicions right in the beginning. The first “issue” she raises is perfectionism, which she cleverly calls “chaos turned inward.” I found this chapter to be very perceptive, as Eastin points out the problems with a preoccupation with appearance, being in bondage to impossible standards, and pride. This line particularly stood out to me: It’s also unloving, because perfectionism doesn’t give: it takes” (22). Great chapter.
Some other sin issues that Staci addresses in detail are busyness, possessions, and leisure. The great thing about this book is that Eastin is able to convict the reader without condemning what is very good and necessary in these same categories. She speaks with biblical wisdom and real life experience. It’s like getting advice from a favorite aunt. There’s no pretending we’re better than we are, rather, her intention is that the book will “help you serve God and your family more effectively, more fruitfully, and with greater peace and joy”(13)—as a real person, not a candied housewife.
And the author is particularly sensitive to “difficult circumstances” that we may providentially be under. In fact, there is a chapter dedicated just to this issue. While an organized heart has recognizable fruits, it has many creative and diverse expressions. I appreciated the passion I sensed between the words on the page to encourage the reader and not box us into a burden we can’t bear. Sometimes that means we need to face our pride in asking others for help. Sometimes it means that we need more contentment with our situations. It always means we depend on Christ.
Even in the last chapter, which includes more practical suggestions, Eastin keeps the theological focus in the forefront. For this I am very appreciative and glad to have read The Organized Heart. It has proved that an organized heart is freeing, not enslaving. And, as an added bonus, it’s also helped me to look at others with more compassion as a result.