Though I am a growing fan of habits, routines, and rituals, I have not been much of a practitioner most of my life. Friends marvel when I tell them that I do not have the same morning or bedtime routine every day. I have a general way of doing things, but the time can fluctuate by as much as 15-minutes, my teeth brushing may happen before or after the shower, and speaking of the shower, sometimes I shower at night and sometimes in the morning.
But that’s not even the best example of what I’m talking about. When I drive somewhere, I often try to find a different route home. When I clean, I go in circles, picking up some laundry in the bedroom, remembering to take the trash out before the laundry is dropped off, wiping down the bathroom sinks which I thought of as I was gathering the trash, etc. By the time I’ve made 7-8 circles around the house, it’s usually clean.
As I grow older and observe more people, however, I am realizing that most of the people I want to be like have a general pattern to their lives. And that general pattern provides the stability and predictably I want so desperately to characterize my life. I want to be a “known” quantity to those around me, not a loose cannon, not a fly by night.
I’m reading Ruth Haley Barton’s Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation about establishing a “rule of life” (as the church fathers and mothers called it). Basically, this book is about ordering our lives in such a way to allow God the most room to move and breathe in us. It’s about establishing spiritual disciplines, but it’s about more than that.
As I see it, the peace I am seeking is about much more than when I brush my teeth or when I read my Bible. It’s about creating a predictable order so that each part of my life fits with the others – all the priorities God has given me working together in harmony.
Here’s an example: I recognized two things over the weekend that I need to spend more DAILY time on. Keeping up with the dishes, laundry and housework. And prayer. So last night, as I decided to do one dish drainer of dishes, even if that didn’t get the whole job done, I also realized that washing dishes by hand leaves a lot of time for thinking, planning and praying. The same is true about folding laundry and raking leaves. A part of my rule of life may include spending 15 minutes a day sitting quietly and praying and another 15 minutes a day praying while I clean. A wholistic approach to a spiritually disciplined life.
How do you order your day? What disciplines do you integrate into your life to give Jesus space to move.