One of the early parenting lessons I learned is routines are lifesavers. Whether it was trying to create a predictable bedtime routine, figuring out how often the child needed to eat to prevent meltdowns, or simply helping the child live into the routine of childcare and school, routines almost always meant that everyone was happier – the child and the parents. As the second child has come along, I have certainly become more flexible, but the rule of routine still proves useful to us as a family.
So after ten days of vacation at home with our extended family, you can imagine how happy I was that the children would be returning to their routines. We had a lovely time off and even the adults got regular naps, but there were also a lot of time-outs due to poor behavior. The lack of a routine was making the kids a little out of sorts. So by Tuesday of this week, I was so relieved to see the return of my lovely, beautiful six-year old. I knew she was in there somewhere!
Though I single out kids, the truth is adults benefit from routine as much as children. One of the consistent conversations I have with recent retirees is their struggle with the loss of a routine. What at first feels like freedom can instead feel like a sense of loss. Once they figure out a volunteer routine, a regular schedule of lunches with friends, or even plan periodic trips to look forward to, the retirees find a sense of calm and purpose.
Our relationship with God is like that too. When we fall out of the routine of prayer, we find connecting with God more difficult. When we fall out of the habit of going to church, we find our weekends are missing something valuable. When we fall out of the pattern of regular learning and serving, we find our relationship with God is not as deep as might like. As we begin a new year, I invite you back into the comfort of routine. I invite you to consider what you might like to change in your everyday routine that might enrich your relationship with God. It may be that you want to sit down and consider a rule of life you want to follow. Or it may be as simple as deciding you want to do one thing – go to church more regularly, pray each night, or read devotionally. Whatever the routine you take up might be, my guess is that God will be happy to see the return of your lovely and beautiful self!