By John Dale
My favorite author and spiritual guide, Fr. Richard Rohr, came up with this concept of “Order, Disorder, Reorder” a few years ago. It’s been really helpful for me to put into words and normalize the important and difficult path of growth. The reason why his concept of order, disorder and reorder stands out to me is that I’ve been on this path many times over the course of my lifetime in my faith, work, family, etc but didn’t see the pattern until I recently read what Richard wrote. This progression is likely playing out in a similar fashion in your own life and you may not even know it.
My version of what he’s proposing would be something like “hey this is going great, there’s no need to change anything.” Then something happens and “oh crap, this isn’t working anymore what do I do?” When the pieces get put back together in a different way “this is better than what I started out with, why did I stay there so long?”
His concept of order, disorder and reorder is all about growth but how many of us like growing? Why would we, it’s usually not an enjoyable process. Think about it like going to the gym and working out. Our bicep muscle initially was a certain size and we didn’t pay much attention to it. We just knew that it allowed us to pick up our cup of coffee without dropping it. One day we decide we want to be stronger so we go to the gym and lift weights. This stretches and tears the muscle, which is painful. When the muscle repairs itself, it’s physically different than it was before. Even though we may be sore for the next few days, we are stronger for enduring the hard work and discomfort.
Our healing journey from trauma follows a similar progression. Things were going great, then something terrible happened that really rocked our world. After we heal from it, things aren’t the same as they were before. We often find a purpose in it and experience more joy in life as a result. It’s the middle step of “disorder”, when things are a mess that we often get stuck in for too long. We need to get to the “reorder” stage at the end but we may be too frustrated, fatigued or fearful to continue on the path.
Self-awareness is a really helpful tool in navigating life’s challenges. If we remember what this “order, disorder, reorder” path feels like and how we changed for the better after going through it last time, we don’t stay as long in the middle when it happens again. This process can also be seen as transformation, “Don’t conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may discern what the will of God is” (Romans 12:2). I’ve learned that if I’m going through something difficult there’s usually going to be a way that I grow from it in the end. It’s a process that I’m not afraid of anymore and at times welcome it.
John Dale is a former REBOOT course leader, military veteran and first responder
What to learn more about Order, Disorder, Reorder? Checkout some additional resources from Fr. Richard Rohr: