In grad school, I had a professor who used to teach us something and then ask,
“Are you feeling disoriented?”
It was a regular check-in during his class. He knew that as we were given new ways of thinking or new information that challenged our old understanding of life, theology, ourselves – it may cause us to feel disoriented like we lost our bearing. And it was true. Many times in his class and throughout grad school, I had moments where I felt disoriented. Like life didn’t make sense. Like the way I had understood things to work, no longer worked. It was disorienting.
But he would always follow up the check-in by saying something to the effect of,
“It’s ok to feel and to be disoriented. It’s actually good to feel disoriented.”
It means you’re about to grow. That feeling of disorientation…that’s usually the feeling you have right before you grow because you are realizing what you had is no longer, or what was working isn’t working anymore, and now you are opened up to growing and learning something new.
I have a feeling many of us are feeling disoriented in this season. Our rhythms are all destroyed. What was, no longer is. What was working, isn’t working anymore. Our way of life has been disrupted and we are disoriented.
For many of us, we are only just now beginning to wrestle with the reality of how long this season may be. The President just announced that we will be in this state at least through the end of April and that things might begin to return to normal in June. June is a couple of months away. Many of us were only mentally/physically/emotionally/spiritually prepared for a couple of weeks of this. I heard it described as a blizzard, not a snowstorm.
At the beginning of this, we hunkered down and treated it like a snowstorm and a snow day. Our thought process was, “I just need to hunker down for a few days, stock up on bread and milk (and TP), and then we’ll go back to normal”. But we are beginning to see it’s much more like a blizzard or a winter season. It’s going to take intentional shifts in our rhythms, in the way we do life, the things we fill our schedules with, the way we interact with our friends and family. It all has to change.
This isn’t simply a moment where we hunker down and don’t make changes because everything will go back to normal soon. Rather, it’s a blizzard, it’s a winter season, where we will need to change rhythms and change the way we live in order to not only survive but also grow and thrive.
In the book of Jeremiah, the people of God (Israel) are in exile in Babylon. Their home of Jerusalem had been ransacked, the temple had been destroyed and they found themselves in a foreign land. Nothing was the same. Nothing was how it had been. The way they understood life was different. The way they interacted with each other was different. The way they interacted with their neighbor and vocation and God was different. It must have been incredibly disorienting. And there were some among them who argued: “This is only a short season, God will pull us out of this quickly, things will go back to normal, simply hunker down and wait it out.” But then the Prophet Jeremiah speaks to the people of Israel and says,
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
He says, “listen this isn’t a snowstorm, this is a blizzard. Settle in, you’ll be like this for a while.” And then he encourages them to create new rhythms, new relationships, new ways of interacting with each other and their neighbor, so they can thrive and their city can thrive and God can be honored.
He essentially says, “if you can embrace this season, learn new rhythms and trust God, you will thrive and so will your city.”
What would it look like for us to embrace this season, learn new rhythms and trust God so we can thrive and so can our community?
This past weekend, Jeff Oakes (REUNION Quincy location pastor) shared a message about creating new rhythms and embracing a “Rule of Life”. The word “rule” comes from the greek word for “trellis.” And for those of us who are gardeners, we know that a trellis is a tool that enables a grapevine to get off the ground to become more fruitful and productive. In a similar way, a rule of life is like a trellis to help us get off the ground, and connect with God in a healthy, fruitful way.
In a season where we are talking about creating new rhythms, a rule of life can be incredibly helpful because in reality, a rule of life is an intentional rhythm. An intentional rhythm to connect with God, with ourselves and with others.
In this season of disorientation and learning new normals – what if we all created a new rhythm centered around Discovering Jesus, becoming like Jesus, and doing what Jesus did?
At its core, a rule of life is simply a rhythm that helps us live life well and grow in our relationship with Jesus. It’s a rhythm that helps us become acclimated to the new season we find ourselves in, and create sustainable ways to move through whatever new season may come our way.
What would it look like in your life this week if you wrote down a daily, weekly, and monthly rhythm for connection with others, yourself and God?
I wanna invite you to wrestle with that thought all week and to consider creating a rule of life for yourself. Our team created a simple handout to help give suggestions and get the gears turning – you can download it here: Crafting a Rule of Life #3 (2)