Rhythms not Resolutions (Part 1)

For years, I’ve made New Year’s resolutions. I’m a type A, goal-driven and success-oriented person. Checklists are my jam. But, while I kept many of my resolutions longer than most, I still usually failed and even if I didn’t fail at keeping them, succeeding didn’t make me feel less empty or a better person. Until I started thinking about adding or changing the rhythms of my days, weeks and months instead of making resolutions; I didn’t start experiencing real change in my life.

Webster defines the word rhythm as a “movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements”. Studying this definition has helped me so much as I have started to identify the rhythms in my own life. A rhythm in our daily lives is a recurrence of something that cause movement or variation, i.e. growth or change.

Before you say, “I don’t really have any rhythms in my daily life. I’m more of a go with the flow type of person.”, let me stop you right there. We all have rhythmic patterns to our days, weeks and months. Whether its what you do the same way every morning when you wake up, or what you have to do before you go to bed at night or when you work out; you have some rhythmic patterns to your days. The question is more what regular rhythms have you built into your life that help facilitate your spiritual/physical/emotional growth. We are all either experiencing growth or are growing stagnate, either way, the rhythms we’ve put in place either consciously or unconsciously help us grow or restrain our growth.

The past few years, at the beginning of the year, I’ve started to evaluate the current rhythmic patterns of my life and have tried to pick a new pattern to add or replace that I believe God was calling me to in order to bring about some kind of spiritual growth or change. Honestly, the past few years, I’ve chosen the paths of least resistance. I’ve chosen some patterns that would come the most naturally. For instance, I have added rhythms that have included regular exercise, Bible reading and journaling. Well, I actually really like to exercise, read/study and write so those weren’t too terribly hard to add to my days. The thing is, I’m starting to realize there are a lot of spiritual disciplines that I could add to my days that would contribute greatly to my spiritual and emotional growth, but are also truly difficult for me based on my personality type. 2018 is the year that I would like to start adding/increasing some of these disciplines as a natural rhythm to my day.

What I plan to do in this new series is discuss some of these rhythms, both ones I already practice and ones I’m working on adding to my life. My prayer is not only would writing about them hold me accountable but also that my experience might serve as an encouragement to you if you are at all interested in adding some of these rhythms to your own life.

The rhythm I would love to add to my days this year is contemplative prayer. I mean, I pray, but like I admitted earlier, I’m a checklist person and that’s pretty much what my prayer life looks like, too. My prayers tend to be a list of confessions and shot gun prayers for myself and others. And while we are called to confession and intercessory prayer, I know that for me I need to learn a little bit more of what it means to sit in silence and in active listening mode in the presence of the Lord. Next week, we’ll look more deeply into what exactly is contemplative prayer, how we can add it to our busy days and why we need this type of prayer to grow spiritually.

In the weeks following, I plan to explore other rhythms you can add to your life that I believe can truly facilitate active growth and change. If you have any your interested in hearing more about, shoot me a message; I’d love to help you explore this idea of spiritual rhythms.

I so look forward to diving deep into this new series with each of you. Until then, let’s rest in the words of Jesus in Matthew as interpreted by Eugene Peterson in The Message.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30, The Message

 

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