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.
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?
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?