BY: JENNIFER PREYSS

Over the weekend, I hired a man to clear out several patches of weeds and do some moderate landscaping in some of my backyard flower beds. For me, when my yard is out of control, I feel anxiety and embarrassment and nervousness all over my body.
There’s a reason why I feel this way, though it isn’t a great reason and it’s certainly not a healthy explanation. But the truth is, I don’t handle disorder well.

When things are untidy, incomplete, unfinished – to a noticeable degree – I can’t concentrate. My world feels off balance.
It reminds me I’m overworked, a single woman on my own attempting to do it all with no help, and negative thoughts begin creeping around my head and whispering the ever-believable lie: “You’re a failure. You can’t do it.”
All of this from overgrown grass – I know.

So to calm my stress, and prevent the negative thoughts from creeping in, I do what I can to keep things in balance. That’s often when I go to the Lord in prayer. He helps get back the true balance in my soul, the spiritual balance, and remind me some things are forever out of my control. And I don’t need to obsess.

What wasn’t out of my control, however, was my lawn. That was well within my ability to solve.

I reached a point where I couldn’t look at it anymore, and knew I was kidding myself to think I had time to do it myself. Every week, for the past four weeks, I kept telling myself, “This is the weekend you’ll commit to the lawn,” I partly wanted to do it myself for the vain satisfaction and bragging rights. I partly wanted to do it myself because it the greatest workout and there is nothing better than spending an afternoon outdoors accomplishing a task. But time is always against me. I just don’t have enough time. And I don’t have a husband, or grown child to nag.

What I did have was a little bit of extra money to hire a professional. And since the lawn disorder was either going to result in me paying for a professional counselor, or professional lawn man, I opted for the latter. At least that way, I wouldn’t have to look at the disorderly lawn while pulling out of the driveway to go to my psychiatry appointment.

So I put out a note on Facebook and asked my community for help. An hour later, a landscaping professional showed up at my door ready to solve the problem and get my yard (and my mind) back on balance.

While he pulled weeds and mowed grass and cut down areas of overgrown plants and trees, I worked on several projects from my living room. On occasion, I looked outside the windows, watching the yard slowly come back to normal order. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the yard felt when he was done, and I remember the long breath I took when I gazed around the yard and saw a semblance of order, clean, and what can only be described as happy nature. The birds seemed exciting about visiting the bird pond again, also.

Now that my yard is no longer in disarray, the past few mornings, I’ve been going outside to feed the birds and squirrels and walk around the yard in the cool of early sunrise. I love being outside now and can’t wait to start planting new flowers, new color, around the perimeter.

What I definitely noticed about myself this weekend is that I’m a person who doesn’t merely need order, I crave it. I crave it because I also crave serenity. I crave serenity because I choose to live in peace. That was an incredible realization this weekend because what would it say about me if I didn’t? It would illustrate that I’m comfortable living in chaos, which I’m not.

It would say that I never accomplish anything, which isn’t true.

And it would say that I hide from tasks that make me a crazy, anxious mess, which I don’t. So I hope if you get anything out of this message, you’ll reflect upon what’s causing you to feel disorder in your life right now? And if it’s a solvable problem, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to make that call, or take that step and get a few inches closer to serenity this week.

If there’s a mess in your life, tackle it head on and clean it up. Your inner peace is waiting. It’s craving your return.

Jennifer L. Preyss is the features and faith editor at the Victoria Advocate newspaper and editor-in-chief of GC Magazine. To read more about Jennifer, visit jenniferpreyss.com or email her at jlpreyss@vicad.com. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @jenniferpreyss.