How to Get Out of a Rut and Back to Adventure

Have you ever found yourself in a rut?

I’m not talking about the kind of rut when you are bored with life. Some other time, we can talk about when life feels bland or dry.

This post is about when your stressors are in overdrive for far too long. Over months, you are rolling in and around potential outcomes that won’t or don’t come. Conflict that won’t resolve. Circumstances that don’t change. Attitudes that remain. The cycle of responsibilities that doesn’t ease up. Recovery that just feels too far off.

This is the kind of rut I am talking about: Routinely scraping the grind over and over without producing what you really want.

Girl Talk

Recently, I was talking to my friend Sara (we use the same goal planner) and asked if she has ever lost a week, weeks or even a month where she hadn’t connected with her monthly or annual goals or daily tending list. Basically, I asked her if she’s ever unintentionally blew off personal check ins for any period of time.

**I define personal checks ins as those set aside times when you ask yourself how you’re doing, what you’re doing and if your days, weeks and months align with your values, priorities and annual goals.

Sara replied, yes, that has happened to her.

This just happened to me. My goal planner was blank for the month of April. In addition to little or no personal check ins, there was no monthly brainstorming or encouraging words, no stated priorities, no listed action items or tracking of weekly rhythms or daily habits. That’s a lot to miss. Instead of asking myself logical questions, I found myself on the toilet.

Sitting on the Toilet

After I had rambled to God for more than an hour in the early morning hours, I headed to the bathroom to pee. While I was sitting on the toilet, I continued with my in a rut questions. God, am I going to be okay? Followed by, I think am going to give up.

When I was sitting on the toilet, I was totally aware of how ridiculous my rut rambling was. First, I will always be okay because He will always be on the throne. Inherently, I knew that as I asked the question to God for more than an hour.

Second, what exactly am I giving up on? The marriage we have fought so hard for. The kids who I long to show up for every day. The girlfriends that love me to my bones. My extended family who hangs in there in thick and thin. The job I have so that I can earn money for our family. Which one of those gifts will I be throwing in the towel?

The Linchpin

When the connection between your everyday and your life’s values and goals disconnect, you get caught in a rut. The rut in the mud is deepened each time you pass over the same conflicts, circumstances, attitudes and responsibilities without resolution. The rut gets muddier as you circle back around the stubborn situations that just keep persisting.

As you go back and forth over the rut, you expend more emotional and mental energy plus your precious time. In these seasons, we naturally, yet unintentionally, knock out the activities, expressions and relationships that ground us. We start to feel like we are walking on a cracked sidewalk. We feel unsteady and begin asking questions that aren’t representative of who we are or whose we are.

Back to the Toilet

As I sat on the toilet that morning, God simply said:

Let’s go do something together.

As I thought about the possibility of adventure, God reminded me that there are a few core things that ground me and make me feel alive. He reminded me that I love writing to you and I love thinking of ideas for my bible study. As he reminded me of these two things that had been pushed out by my stubborn circumstances, he said,

Let’s go do those things together.

Although I know what I love to do, I never quite realized that writing and bible study are the same things that he desires to do with me. When I step away for longer than necessary to address life’s complications, I lose my time where I adventure with him. I lose the excitement of dreaming of the things only he could plant in my little human mind for my joy and his joy.

My creative life is the one thing that I do with him. My friend Susie pointed out to me years ago that my creative life is just like spending quiet time with him or doing a devotional. This part of my life depends solely on my connectedness to him.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

When we are not living out our very individualized, creative identity that he made for us to do with him, we lose our sense of walking on a firm foundation. We lose our sense of adventure. He has made us people who thrive when we are setting out to do things with him. When we are not, we lose touch with the parts of our lives that qualify as our great adventure. Instead of feeling alive, we end up feeling like we are walking on a cracked sidewalk.

My Testimony of Adventure

When I walk with him on El Mar Drive in the morning sunshine, everything around me begins to speak. You know, even the rocks cry out in worship. When we adventure together in this way, I remember

  • I don’t enjoy walking on cracked sidewalks and how glorious it feels to be grounded in him.
  • It is him, and only him, that feeds my soul.
  • He has more to say than I could ever imagine.
  • He really doesn’t have anything better to do than to dwell with me and in me.
  • Everything is held together by his wisdom, his hands and his great, everlasting love.
  • Nothing is unknown to him.
  • He deeply stretches out himself before every one of us.

When I remember that kind of love, I understand that my adventures with him give me the answers to my questions like – will I be okay and can I keep going? He has already done all of the work. We are saved in him. Therefore, we will be okay. We don’t need to give up because he will never give up. For these reasons, we can get up and go on adventures with him.

Questions for Thought

Have you felt a little off kilter lately?

Have you been asking questions that aren’t reflective of your identity in Christ?

Have you briefly lost touch with the adventures God loves to go on with you?

How long has it been since you have set aside time for a personal check in? If it’s been awhile, stop for a few minutes now. How are you doing? What are you doing? Do your days, weeks and months align with your values, priorities and annual goals?

Think beyond the actual hard things going on in your life. In this moment, can you list the things the Lord desires to do with you? What is your adventure with him?

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How to Reflect in Four Meaningful Steps

The first quarter of the new year is coming to a close.

If you let it happen, the wisdom of all that you have become and learned will sweep with you into the next season. I like the sound of wisdom sweeping with me into the next season. However, something is lost if the holy magic doesn’t find a place to tangibly land. In other words, the wisdom needs a place to stick, and grow in you.

For me, tangible, fertile ground lives in my writing. When the magic transforms to words and the words release into the world, I can then take wisdom with me going forward as well as return to it when it escapes me.

In order to make your wisdom “sticky”, I’m offering you four steps to help you move forward. At the bottom of this post, you can click Page Two to read my First Quarter Reflection. Whether or not you have time to read my reflection, you will have all you need in these four steps to begin, or make deeper, your own reflection practice.

STEP ONE: Choose Your Landing Board

What is the sticky landing place for the holy magic that has taken place in your life? What is or where is the tangible landing board for your hard-earned wisdom?  

The answer lies within your gifting.

My daughter dances. My mom gives the shirt off her back. My grandma cracks one liners (possibly to your detriment). My son looks you right in the eyes. My friend Melissa hears and holds burdens. My friend Susie encourages you into believing again.

What is your gifting? That space is likely your landing board.

Don’t spend a ton of time choosing your landing board. That’s a lifelong adventure. Pick something for today and go with it. Choose the pen like me. Grab a stone from your yard and write a word on it similar to our brother Joshua after he crossed the Jordan. Make a collage of pictures for your wall or phone wallpaper. Get a temporary tattoo. Take a reflective, memorial walk for the purpose of honoring your hard earned wisdom.  

The point is that we need a space to commemorate wisdom. Without a stone of remembrance or a journal entry or visual or physical reminder, our humanity will naturally move us on to the next moment in time. If we make the good choice to reflect, the wisdom will not just sweep with us but seep into us.

STEP TWO: Understand Why Reflection is so Hard & Move Forward Anyway

Reflection is hard because it uproots the past. The past can be painful, or stressful or dumb. We don’t want to relive that again. We also get uncomfortable by the humiliation or embarrassment that may arise from reliving the emotion or fears that ran through us in months or weeks earlier. Last but not least, moving forward is so much more fun than moving backward!

Rather than hide from reflection, I look to sisters who do reflection well.

For example, my friend Steph has logged journals for decades. She goes back to the very day, one year ago, five years ago, ten years ago. She reflects on how far she has come. I aspire to her bravery.

Another friend Susie has a prayer journal that has taken her through the years. She goes back to cross off answered prayer. I love her discipline and ability to celebrate success and continue to pray through the not yet.

Therefore, don’t get stuck in your emotions when it comes to reflection. Remind yourself that skipping reflection also passes over the wisdom gained by the experience.

STEP THREE: Set Yourself up for Reflection

Reflection won’t happen without time, space and intention.

Reserve an hour of time before your world fires up. For me, that means before 8:30/9am when the work email and phone calls begin.

Or, in the alternative, look for an hour on the weekend when your home or space is quiet. Reflection rarely works when you are in a space where there are questions to answer, work to be done or people to serve.

Other than your home, you can choose a bench at the beach, a coffee shop plus ear buds or even your parked car. All of these spaces have served me well.

I highly suggest that you reflect around the close of each quarter of the year. That way, the repetitive, reflective flow will help your wisdom grow.

STEP FOUR: Begin Reflection

Even though I don’t find it easy, my heart draws me to reflection. Typically, I experience gratefulness for insight. At the same time, I have a sense of urgency that I’ll lose the holy magic if I don’t structure a way to remember it. Reflection starts with a feeling and then, with intention, moves to its landing space.

Since my life is mostly powered by paper and my phone, that’s where I start. I look at the paper I’ve accumulated (there is a lot of that). I also scroll the notes in my phone, my calendar and the pictures I have taken.

NOTE: It’s a good idea to consider how to make a paper trail of your insight so that when you aim to reflect and remember, you can follow the breadcrumbs.

As you ponder these insights, ask God what He is saying through that experience, event or impression. Wait. Think. Let the moment move past your own wisdom or understanding. Presume that God wishes to take you further than your own thoughts. Let your thoughts flow to Him and wait for His thoughts to flow to you. This exchange will lead you to godly wisdom. The kind you receive and record. The kind that only comes through quiet reflection.

Dear Sisters

You have all you need to begin reflection. The steps make sense and you are ready. I recapped them for you below.

For those of you who want to read my first quarter reflection, click Page 2 below. Love you Sisters.

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The New Rhythm of Quarantine

Dear Sisters,

This is a season of new practices for me. The rhythm of the past no longer fits. If I am honest with you, God should have quarantined me a few years ago. Nothing but global, governmental restrictions could have stopped me.

Most of you are in my boat.
Busy. Hardcore. Hard-pressed. Fast-moving.
Sleepless (or sleep little). Worried. Tarried.
Pushing. Moving. Living on Self Pep Talks.

About a month ago, I noticed that I could not live, move and breathe in this new climate with my old self. I see in my written prayers, on my phone app lists and on mini-poster boards on my desk that I have been both begging God and hearing from God to SLOW DOWN. I have been Chasing Slow for several years. All of my attempts to reign down my schedule and my expectations of myself have fizzled out or, to be candid, failed for one reason or another.

And then came 2020 + Quarantine.

In early January, work shifted away from a client that had kept me busy and stressed. While this was a good thing, my worry about tomorrow (finances) kicked into high gear – – despite the truth that He always covers us with what we need at the right time. I weathered through February.

Then came March.

I don’t have any secrets to share with you. I have circled back to the thing that God has used to ground me in my life. I watched my mom do this at our kitchen table (which also was her office) my entire childhood. She wrote out her schedule and her corresponding lists. She stuck to both.

I’ve narrowed down the precepts of my day to four statements:

Morning Reading & Journaling
Accomplish Something
Afternoon Rest
Body Movement

For the last month, I’ve been working on this new rhythm. When I want to go straight to work in the morning, I tell myself to 

Stick to the Plan.

When I determine that I can mow through a football field in one day, I tell myself: 

Accomplish Something

(Not Everything)

My afternoon rest is listening to a chapter of an audio book. My body movement basically has to be with a friend because I’m not very good on my own.

I’m sharing this with you because when I get on Zoom calls with women these last six weeks, I mostly hear Overwhelm. Frustration. Can’t Sleep. Anxiety. But, I also hear that women are overcoming through Prayer. Meditation. Outdoors. Exercise. Community.

These things can’t be accomplished without a rhythm that you will stick to.

My hope is that, if you haven’t already, you will find a new rhythm in this season. My hope is that you will build the life you were aiming to live and stick to before the quarantine. My hope is that, if you haven’t already memorialized this new way of living, that you will set aside an hour to do that today.

Because I am extraordinarily practical, I am attaching a guide for you. It was fun for me to make it. Enjoy it!

Because I understand that active change usually cuts straight to the heart of the matter, I am also including encouragement for you. If creating a new rhythm draws out some unexpected emotions, thoughts of failure or negative beliefs about yourself or God’s love for you, remember this:

My dear sister,
You are never alone.
Never too lost or afraid for a homecoming.
Your Father protects you.
He marks the boundaries in your life.
He prescribes a rhythm for you to live by.
He paints the landscape as you walk through life.
When you spin out, He is faithful to pull you in.
When you fall back, He’s got you.
When you slide to the ground, His arms pull you to His chest.
My sister, put aside the old.
Busy. Hardcore. Hard-pressed. Fast-moving.
Sleepless. Worried. Tarried.
Pushing. Moving. Living on Self Pep Talks.
My sister, embrace the rhythm He created for you.
As you seek, you will find the place
Where you find yourself face to face
With the Living God.

Love,

Your Soul Sister Sasha

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