Are you comfortable with a mess or do you crave order? BELONG tour speaker Patsy Clairmont shares where she falls on the clutter spectrum and why it’s important to know where you do.

I just returned home from an art class where we were creating collages, a challenge that requires a boat load of potentiality in the form of rocks, glass, puzzle pieces, fabric, sea shells, stamps, wire, etc. Well, you get the idea; we had assembled a mountain of treasures and scraps. I promise you it took me no time at all before my work space was cluttered and crammed with paper, paste, paint, and all the paraphernalia necessary to design a board full of buttons, bows, and bluebirds.

Halfway through the project I said out loud, “I have to clean up this mess so I can think.” Which I did. But not without a few strange looks from artists around me who were content with glue dripping off their elbows, magazines strewn ankle deep, and an explosion of paperclips, pencils, and photographs covering their tables and laps. While, I, Ms. Tidy Bowl herself, was stacking cards, filing, scrubbing sticky off my hands, and wiping down my space.

For me, debris…well, it uh, bruises my brain. Once I restored order though, it allowed me the mental space and dexterity to carry on until the last piece on my canvas was securely in place. Here’s what’s important; not what others can tolerate, but to understand my own need and address it. The others weren’t wrong to be comfortable in the midst of disorder, which was obvious by their beautiful results, nor was I flawed for preferring an orderly space. It isn’t about right and wrong; it’s about understanding our unique design and taking care of ourselves. It’s okay to be different. Not weird, I’ve been there, but different.

Years ago I would have shut down half-way through the project, not understanding why I had become lethargic, muddled, and stuck, while others remained diligent in their efforts. That left me feeling incapable and just flat out wrong. But when I learned I could reset my energy and creativity by simply reestablishing order, it was my breakthrough to completion.

How do your brain and emotions function best? Learn yourself. Don’t give up. Don’t blame others. You are in charge of you. Be kind to yourself by cooperating with the way God has pieced you together. Remember we are a living collage of His love, mercy, and grace.