Somewhere between the holidays, traveling, vacations, conferences, and sickness, something very important tends to slip quietly out my front door. I almost don't notice its absence until all the seasonal excitement is dwindling, and when I do realize its gone, I'm quickly filled with guilt for every letting out of my sight --
Things that we may normally do during a normal week suddenly disappear. And things we normal don't do during a normal week suddenly become the norm -- sleeping in, eating junk food, leaving stuff everywhere and neglecting the clean up.
As soon as I notice my routines disappearing, my mind begins rattling off a list of "should's." I beat myself up for neglecting the "normal" and wallow in guilt for all that I've failed to do.
I should get back to a regular wake-up routine.
What happened to the kid's bedtime routine?
I need a better excercise routine.
A healthier meal routine.
A better blogging routine.
A better quiet-time routine.
A more consistent homeschooling routine.
Routines in life bless me. They can encourage godliness in me, they can help me train my children well, they can help me love my husband better. Routines can make me more effective in my work, more productive during my day, and more stable in my emotions.
But if I'm honest, routines can easily become dangerous. They can quickly become less about me honoring God, and more about me honoring myself. When I'm in routine, I feel secure. When I'm in routine, I feel self-sufficient. When I'm in routine, a subtle pride starts to creep in that says, "I've got this mother/wife thing down."
Routines have a funny way of pushing aside our dependence and zooming in on our strengths. And so while routines may be helpful, there's only one that essential.
The only routine my soul really NEEDS is the daily reminding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Did you forget your cleaning routine for the week? Breathe in. Remind yourself of the daily cleansing of Jesus' sacrifice for you.
Have you slipped up on your food and exercise routine again? Breathe out. The gospel of Jesus is our daily bread.
Have you forgotten the last time you've spent quality time reading to your children before bed? Take a deep breath. It's not what's most important.
Sometimes, we need to be out of routine to remember what's most important. Somedays the chaos, the sickness, the abnormal schedules -- somedays they're actually a gift.
Because when even for a moment, life lacks routine, we can inhale deeply the only thing we actually need -- grace.