I read Bruce Miller’s book Your Life in Rhythm, a couple of years ago. It was a welcomed reinforcement to what our family has come to realize: Life has rhythms and when we begin to acknowledge them and even understand them, we can flourish in them.
In ministry, there are rhythms, as in some months are so busy that the staff and their families are just panting to get to the finish line. Other months are slower and many of our people travel. That is where rest and planning take place for the next busy rhythm.
Schools have rhythms, where teachers are working excessive hours to prepare for the school year or report cards and parent-teacher conferences to take place.
Your children have rhythms of dependence on you and independence from you.
Your family has rhythms, perhaps dictated by the school year or one or both parent’s jobs.
You have rhythms. For example, if you’ve just had a baby, this probably isn’t the time to work out all day or learn a new language. If you’ve just started a new job, you might not want to plan a month-long vacation. If you have small children, you don’t need to feel guilty that the whole of your mornings aren’t spent sunk deep in a comfy chair, sipping coffee as you hear from the Lord.
That leads me to a great point that Bruce Miller makes in the book: Be at peace with the stage God has you in right now. We all need to hear that! It’s so easy to look at what someone else is doing and want that, but God has given you this stage for this time in your life. Embrace it and find what works in the rhythms this stage brings.
When do you rest?
When do you play?
When are you most productive?
When do you find time to recharge and connect with the Lord?
These rhythms are important to identify for your overall health.
I guess it’s no surprise then, that God gave Solomon the wisdom to write about these rhythms in the book of Ecclesiastes.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh;a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
The list goes on as Solomon experienced many seasons in life.
Mr. Miller also encourages us to ask ourselves this question: “What can only I do in this stage?” As a wife and mother, this wasn’t hard for me to figure out. I’ve handed responsibilities that I love over to others and lessened activities that I enjoy for the sake of caring well for my growing family.
Only I get to be my husband’s wife, so I need to be available to him. This requires being attentive and intentional. I think about my home and how to make it an enjoyable and loving place to be. I help plan date nights so that we have focused time together. I plan meals and grocery shop, so that we don’t all just look at each other when it’s dinnertime. And only I can be the mom to my four kids. I teach them, disciple them and talk with them about life. Other people can do (fill in the blank), but only I can do these things. How would you answer that question?
I’ve also found that understanding our rhythms as a family has given me greater freedom. I used to feel frustrated when the busy seasons at church dictated our schedule. It can feel at times like we’re unable to plan activities for ourselves, but rather simply responding. But, as we’ve become more familiar with our rhythms, we’ve begun blocking out times for our family to do things we enjoy or just to rest. Planning has been an essential part of feeling satisfied with this very busy time in our lives. Then, on months that we’re “panting”, we can do so for the Lord’s glory. He has created us to work after all!
So how about you? What are your rhythms? Take a few minutes to consider what 2014 could look like and plan accordingly, so that you can flourish in the coming year!