As we all wave goodbye to the summer and summer schedules, some with a sense of relief, some already counting the days until the next one, we begin to settle down into new, or at least renewed, routines. At church we start back our Sunday School programs, our hand-bells, choirs, children’s ensemble, among other ministries. In homes with children, school has started back and families are adjusting again to routines of early mornings, homework, and sports or other activities.
Depending where you look, I am either on the tail end of Generation X, or am Genera-tion Y/Millennial, which basically just means I grew up in the time of an overabundance of extracurricular activities and constant stimulation. Schedules and routines don’t seem to be getting any easier, and the world around us continues to vie for our time and attention. There was a while there that at-tendance at church was an assumption in society, and so at least Sunday mornings were carved out and untouchable. That is no longer the case, and even Sunday morn-ings often include sports tournaments.
However, even growing up with these reali-ties as my norm, I would argue that routines, particularly healthy routines, are even more important in this culture of things vying for your attention and time. For starters, rou-tines tend to minimize stress and anxiety, particularly in children. I know when Jenn and I have something that breaks the routines that we have in the week, particularly bedtime routines, it really sets off our chil-dren and we get more mood swings and fits.
Granted Nathaniel can’t figure out a sleep-ing routine no matter what right now, but he’ll get there.
The other, and more important reason that routines are important, is that our routines shape us, particularly as children. If your family tends to eat dinner all together, you begin to long for that time and miss it when it doesn’t happen. We are very much creatures of habit around holidays, and if we don’t participate in those routines, or tradi-tions, it doesn’t feel quite right. I grew up going to church every Sunday, so any Sun-day that I didn’t get to church felt slightly empty, even if sleeping in was nice.
A piece of scripture that I continually go back to once I heard this interpretation is Matthew 6:21, ”where you treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It is not judging our use of money, but rather says the way we spend money shapes our heart. The same is true for our time as well. How we spend our time shapes us. If we want to be some-one that cares about volunteering our time for charity, then we should go ahead and volunteer our time, even if begrudgingly, and doing so will shape our heart. If we want to have a rich devotional life, set aside that time even if it hurts at first, and eventu-ally you long for it.
The routines we set shape us. So as we begin new schedules and settle into rou-tines, be intentional about how you spend your time and what that says about your priorities and values. If it seems out of balance from the person you’d like to be, shape your routine for the person you’d like to be, or better yet, the person God calls you to be, and the Spirit can even work through routines to shape you!
Yours in Christ,