Most people who knew me well during my years overseas know me for my routines. I cleaned my house the same day every week. I washed clothes on Mondays, towels on Wednesday, sheets on Friday. I woke up every morning and had my quiet time.
You could call me a creature of habit.
I called it a way to keep my sanity in an otherwise chaotic world.
My husband would laugh at me for my religious ways, but I often reminded him that my routines were the one thing that kept me grounded and kept our home in semi-order.
A friend recently asked me if there were rhythms I built into my day to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, keep my hand to the plow, and, unlike Lot’s wife, not to look back. When you’re living in a foreign culture or even in your “home” one, it’s so easy to feel out of control and overwhelmed by the needs surrounding you. An extra difficulty in third-world life is the effort it takes to just get daily tasks accomplished, due to language differences, fewer resources and transportation challenges.
My simple routines helped to keep me living with a mental, if not physical, calendar in my head. When the constant flow of visitors in our home blurred my days, the fact that I needed to put a load in the wash reminded me it was Monday. As a person who has the spiritual gift of administration, living in the Middle East was an attack on my senses in every way. Keeping my simple, rhythmic routine of chores was my way of preserving a piece of me within my new world.
Yet, the one rhythm that rose above them all was the daily routine, developed since childhood, of spending time with God in prayer and Bible study. When the wash piled up or the house got dirty, my only constant source of focus was my morning time with God. The birth of babies and needs of family may have shortened it in the ebb and flow of life, but the habit remained and continues today. It’s part of who I am, part of my day, my routine that can never be swayed. Even when grief overwhelmed me, the psalms drew me in, day after day, until the waves calmed and the peace was restored.
Were there times when I found myself struggling with the kind of life I was living in comparison to those of family and friends back in the States? Yes, and it’s natural, but that’s when God reminded me to stop and count my blessings. That required me to get over whatever tedious task I was doing and to see what He was doing in the lives of those we were discipling, sharing with; in our children, and in the world at large.
My rhythms have changed over the years. Now that I’m alone, I only clean my house every two weeks, which feels so strange, but that daily time with Jesus still goes on — and that’s the only rhythm that matters. Spending time with him is the anchor that keeps my boat steady on the stormy seas of life.
Grace and Peace