“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” –Annie Dillard
It’s that time of the year again, where kids are heading back to school and we are getting back into the rhythm of things. If you are like me, you are working to make all go smoothly–the supplies, the clothes, the schedules. And if you are like me, you’ve probably thought a time or two over the last week–THIS IS TOO MUCH!!!
Too many forms.
Too many meetings.
Too many supplies.
Too many emails.
Too many shopping trips.
Too many things to remember.
I don’t want to fall apart in the process of keeping everyone else together as we leave summer behind and head into fall.
I want to find some level of sanity despite the chaos, and I’ve realized over the years how it’s possible to find peace in the middle of a season that feels like one big push. It’s possible to thrive by choosing to honor the rhythms and routines that are life-giving to me and to the people I love.
And I want you to thrive too–to fully flourish even when you are in the middle of a busy, difficult, or challenging season or circumstance.
Let me give you an example of rhythms that help me thrive even during demanding requests or requirements of my time.
First, I try to keep my basic nourishment in mind. I do my best to drink the water, eat the fiber, and eat at home. The first thing I do during busy seasons is start eating out. It feels like a win because it saves me time, but we all know eating out too much over the long haul is not a win at all. Also, when I’m eating well, I have more energy and a clearer head for all of the things on my plate!
Second, I make a strong attempt to “batch my efforts.” I try to run all of my errands on one day, gather paperwork in one sitting, or do my meal planning and cooking one time a week so that the rest of the week flows a little better. And while I’m not perfect, I try to resist the urge to be distracted by the notifications on my phone and instead decide when I will engage with the texts or emails that are always coming in. I don’t want my devices to control me but rather to serve me in the way that I need. Batching efforts keeps the to-do list from becoming overly complicated and helps prevent unnecessary drama.
Lastly, when I’m at my best it’s because I’m spending quality time with God. He centers me. As I abide in that relationship and set time aside to pray and read the Bible, the Holy Spirit leads me throughout my days, showing me what’s most important from minute to minute. That connection with God relieves stress and reminds me of what is important to Him rather than being left on my own to figure it all out. Of course, there are other things that keep me calm too–a good candle, peaceful music playing in my house or in my car, a few pages of a good book before I go to bed, and an overdue conversation with a friend. Making time for a few things that feed my soul is life-giving and raises the amount of soul-life that I have to pour out each day.
My point? Rhythm and routine won’t change your season, but it totally can change you as you go through your season. As I always say, you get to choose.
The choices we make have the power to shape us and push us closer to who we want to be and the lives we want to live. Each season has its own rhythm and finding what works for us will bring clarity to who God has called us to be. Setting or resetting good rhythms might take you out of your comfort zone as you reflect on what you are practicing each day. And please do reflect! Why? Because there is a gift in surrendering your busy to a better way. When you are mastered by the mayhem and so focused on your load you can’t look at the big picture. You will only see what is right in front of you and be driven by what you think you can or can’t handle, or by what you are feeling in your immediate experience. But right in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, there is Someone who knows you, knows what’s on your plate, and knows how to give you abundant life despite your past, your present, and whatever you think your future looks like. But are you letting Him guide and direct you?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have this area consistently under control all the time. Even with the knowledge of rhythm–particularly spiritual rhythms–and the importance of resting in God’s vision for my daily life, I flunk regularly to put it all together. I rush. I stress. And on a really bad day, I might even break down and cry (or yell at somebody) out of sheer frustration.
But I’m learning.
I’m learning that life has a lot of pieces. Not just in the current season, but from my first day to my last, there are parts of life I’ll never fully understand until I have the gift of hindsight. But the God I serve knows about all the pieces–the pieces I have under control and the pieces I don’t. And the best news is that He knows what rhythms I need to implement so that I live these busy seasons well. I don’t have to worry and try to know it all or do it all, especially during nutty seasons. I just need to prioritize listening to Him to hear what He thinks is important for my days and do that.
Hearing His voice and pausing to connect with Him sometimes seems hard. There is so much to do and sparing 5-10 minutes seems impossible, but I’ve seen the rewards of being connected to the source of all things, the One who knows where all the pieces of my life are located. I’ve seen the beauty of seeking peace and pursuing a God who doesn’t operate in confusion.
Chaos around me doesn’t have to mean chaos in me.
And in this season of new beginnings and starting over, the chaos doesn’t have to rule over you. You have the ability to rule over it by prioritizing the rhythms and routines that are life-giving to your mind, body, and soul.
What rhythms help you to stay in a place of peace? I’d love to know.
And I have more thoughts about finding rhythm in your relationship with God, I’ll share more soon. In the meantime, if you want encouragement in your spiritual journey, I’ve written a book called 28 Days of Prayer to help you just do that. Grab the first five days here.