It all started with index cards. My daughter walked into my room at 9:00 pm and said she had to have index cards for school the next day. I can’t describe what happened next any other way than this: I lost my mind. I berated her for 20 minutes about her lack of responsibility in waiting until this late the night before to ask. I made sure she understood how this request was affecting my life, my plans, my deadlines. Clearly, this request was outrageous and life-disrupting. For the first time I can remember, my child ran from me in tears.
I live in a large suburb. In the time it took me to drive my daughter to tears, I could have driven to at least five different locations to get the item she needed and it would have cost me about $1.50.
This wasn’t about index cards. This was about the pace of my life being out of control.
I’d forgotten that it was up to me to decide what kind of rhythm I wanted for my family. I had made a decision somewhere along the way to live at an exhausting, time-consuming, attitude-wrecking, family-changing pace. I was saying “yes” to everything because I believed that was what was expected of me and somehow convinced myself it was good for us. It was the urgent overtaking the important every single day.
I thought I needed some balance in my life. I wanted things to be even and steady and to work easily within my plan. But what I was missing was less about balance and more about a healthy rhythm. When I let old, bad habits about spending, activities, and my own self-care take over or when I let others dictate my time, everything became urgent and out of control. The rhythm I was living in was actually someone else’s.
I’d been doing it for so long that it wasn’t going to be easy to change, but it was going to be so much harder not to.
I knew where I needed to start. I needed time to think and pray. I needed to talk to God about how he had created me and the decisions I’d been making. I needed wise counsel from someone who knew me well.
During this time, a friend pointed me to Galatians 5:22-25:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (ESV)
I was out of step. Its’ pretty clear from these verses what kind of rhythm God wants for me. The desire to excel, be better and grow is not always a bad thing. But it becomes harmful when I get caught up in gauging myself and everyone else by some ridiculous standard set by Pinterest, Instagram, or that spot deep inside of me that thinks your rhythm must be better than mine. The pressure to live my life like it was a competitive sport didn’t come from God.
Galatians 5:16 in The Message version says: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit.
That is the rhythm I want!
Every day there are dozens of meaningful opportunities laid out before you – opportunities in your home, community, church, school and work. Saying “yes” to them all usually means forcing your family rhythm to fit into them. But now may be the time to shift your thinking. It may be time to talk to God about your own personal rhythm and then take gutsy steps to live in it.
Making this shift creates white space. It gives you time to take the scenic route to school, room to be the ride for the friend whose car is in the shop; and space to sit with someone who needs to chat. It gives permission to turn buying index cards at 9:00 pm into an adventure instead of an attitude adjustment. Most importantly, it gives direction and purpose to your steps. It just may bring you freedom to decide what the important things are for you and your family for today, tomorrow, and the days after that.
You see, it’s hardly ever about the index cards.