I was sitting with a mom of three while the band warmed up at church.
As the sounds of tuning guitars echoed through the small room, my new friend expressed her relief. She and her husband had just moved their little family across the country eight months before, and she was finally starting to feel like they were settling into a routine. Her bright-eyed, 8-year-old daughter leaned on her shoulder as we talked.
“Kids need some stable rhythms in life in order to feel safe and grounded. It’s a basic need. If they don’t have a stable rhythm, it’s hard for them to be their best selves,” she said.
And then she added: “I think the same goes for adults.”
If only she knew, I thought, my back rigid against the folding chair that held me.
I gave her what must have been a knowing, affirming nod. I was immediately reminded of how I react when change happens in my own life. On that day in particular, changes in my family, work and schedule had been making me feel unbalanced and unsteady.
I, too, was in a time of transition.
Just as the guitars in the worship band seemed to merge their notes into the beginnings of melody, my new friend gave words to the chord she had struck in my heart.
“It’s liturgy,” she said.
Liturgy. In church tradition, it’s defined as ritual, sacrament, rubric, practice. It’s the rhythm by which we live and work and worship.
As humans made in God’s image, we were created to flourish in the rhythms of the seasons. Daily tasks. The everyday cadence of sunrise-to-sunset, literally in-tune with how God made the earth.
“It isn’t just kids. We all need those essential rhythms,” my friend said, speaking about these things as if she was well acquainted with them – like she had learned these truths by walking closely with them.
And as I resonated with her words, I thought: I want to walk closely with these truths.
I want to walk closely with the unchanging God and his unchanging truths when everything else shifts. I want to be grounded. I want to be connected to the way God created us, living into the rhythms of work and play and rest as he intended.
I want to be acquainted with the liturgy of my life.
What is the basic cadence of rest, prayer and worship that will enable me to live out of God’s truth, rather than running on my own empty tank?
Well, to start, I know how this doesn’t look. I can tell when my life’s rhythm is tending toward unhealthy.
When I start to feel out-of-sync with my own life, I operate my body and mind at a pace that’s too fast for my soul.
Instead of resting or creating space in my schedule, I fill my days with commitments and people and experiences. I push and prove and perform for others, loving my to-do list and its satisfying check marks. I run from that quiet place where I might feel the discomfort of change.
And then, I crash.
Anxiety cripples me. I struggle to eat and sleep well. I wake up at night, over and over again, anxious about the day ahead before dawn even comes. I feel tired, out-of-sorts and frazzled.
My body gets my attention, almost saying “hey, we’re moving way too fast.”
But, there’s a different way, I’m learning. The way of God-centered liturgy.
There’s a way of tuning our lives back to God’s melody, syncing our lives with the harmony in which we thrive.
There’s a way of allowing the quiet discomfort of change, looking it in the face, and therefore diminishing its power over us.
There’s a way that means that even if we move thousands of miles from home, we can still move at a pace that allows the still, small voice of God to break through.
We can – we must – return to basic rest and truth.
If you, like me, are feeling the discomfort of change and uncertainty, can I be the one to invite you to slow down in the process, rather than try to speed through it?
Can I be the one to encourage you to gather around your table, gather up your people, get some fresh air, and get some perspective?
If you, like me, are feeling out-of-sync, don’t allow the discomfort to scare you. It doesn’t mean that the
change is bad. It doesn’t mean that you need to force yourself into old routines and regimens just to regain (what feels like) stability.
It does mean you need to slow down and listen – to God and to your own soul.
It means you need to find your liturgy once again. Return to it.
Say no to the invitation to cram your day with activity. Plan for uninterrupted time with a friend. Fill your notebook with honest prayers.
Make a meal. Make a phone call. Make no plans at all.
Allow yourself to sleep. Allow your muscles to unwind. Allow the still, small voice to speak right to you.
Feel the companionship of meeting in the quiet with Jesus and feeling your soul refresh in the most essential ways.
Return to liturgy.
Return to the dance that was made just for you and God before your life even began.
Like the guitar strings searching for the notes of true worship, tune your heart back to grace.