10 Habits to Break (and NOT live by) :: routine.

Antarctic-Plateau We live in circles and lines defined more and better each day in routines, in habits.  The habits we tolerate shape our pace through life and weave together the perspective in which we gaze out at the world alive around us.  In similar fashion, we fail to perceive or even recognize the panorama of what could be when we become hemmed in by habits.

If we always return home the same way everyday, we may never become aware of a shortcut, a better way home.

There comes a time when ascent flattens and pace slows to life less than extraordinary.  In youth, we excitedly run with risk absent of consequence as we pursue dreams unhinged to plausibility.  Call it youthful exuberance or recklessness, but there is an invigorating vitality in running through each day with a hunger for more and a thirst for tomorrow.  As a result, we grow exponentially in youth, not because of the mere pace of our going, but our openness to new experiences and investigative curiosity in all surrounding us.  Naturally, we slow in our lean into adulthood as we take on responsibility and schedules.  The pace of yesteryear cannot be maintained in the same way as we draw circles of priority and lines of direction.  

But plateauing should never be our resigned position; learning and experiences are necessary to our growth and development as professionals, parents, spouses and friends.

When each day fades into undisturbed routine and the rush of wind pushing against our face as we pursue life more calms to barely whispering breeze in our halted stance, we reach stasis - the point where things will be as they will be and dreams are excused as insubordinate and unwise fantasies.  In our circles and lines, we drown in deadlines, goals and schedules and the panoramic disappears leaving only what’s immediately in front of us.

For me, walking outside the lines of routine holds high priority and considered an absolute necessity to continual growth.

Across the board, I violate lines appropriated safe by responsibility.  This is how I escape routine reigning as sacred in my life.  My violations are subtle, but transformative to how I value life and what really matters.  As an example, my schedule isn’t allowed as much value as what I’m actually doing.  So if one part of my schedule requires more time to do it well, the schedule bows to the activity.  Common within my scheduled writing time are moments when the words don’t fit together like they should in order to give proper voice to what I’m writing - in other words, writer’s block.  Instead of moving on for the sake of sticking to the schedule, I push through the block and closer to mastery.

Even more important than writing and routines, family holds a much higher regard.  Just last night, I sat up an hour later than my oldest’s regular bedtime to hear her heart and set right insecurities festering within her emotions.

I believe we develop far deeper and much more stable in our pursuit of life in moments outside the lines rather than holding to patterns and routines boasting safety.  And I believe God invites us to run outside the lines and deems it befitting of His immeasurably sufficient, unconcerned with safe grace alive in each of our days.  Sacred and safe routines are means of preservation and reek of a me-centric attitude void of God’s leading as primary.  Regularly, I remind myself that God rarely seems to be concerned with safe, but instead provokes curiosity and ideas of ahead within us.  Consider the apostle Paul’s positioning of God in Ephesians chapter 3:

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

In every opportunity, may we reach outside the lines to grasp life well strengthened by a power alive and at work within us, and may we resign routine a lesser priority unable to threatened what really matters.

*(image: Ross Anderson)

10 Habits to Break (and NOT live by) :: fear.

darkfearnight Fear.

Some say fear is necessary.  Some say evil.  Others argue a safety in terms of self preservation.  Others, like me, are too afraid to commit to one particular definition leaving ambiguity as to what fear is and the allowed heart spaces it resides in.

I don't know exactly what fear is other than an emotional response to something I'm unsure of, somewhere my feet feel foreign and unacceptable.

On a mountainside 12,000 feet above sea level, my heart pounding unusual and in disconcerted rhythm, my lungs grasping for more and my head spinning, I honored fear as wisdom.  The sprawl of back country in the Colorado Rockies absent of altitude acclimation quickly reduced my heart lost in romantic adventure. The manly within boasted through gasps, "I'm ... good, let's . . . do ... it!"

Fear subdued manly in shaky hands, rocky bluffs and waning strength.  We stopped in our uncharted, sighted tracks and instead navigated a safe descent.

Fear. Good.

Sitting bedside, alarm clock humming in dawn's still soft lit arrival, the day already felt too big.  It was, too big.

Little eyes searched for me in each waking.  I didn't know how to satisfy their wanting. Death stole what they never imagined was on the table for the taking but life took.  And God was twisted in the details, muddying our belief in his goodness.

Morning intimidated me but not nearly as much as the (maybe) thousands of unarrived ones following in sequence.  How to live sank low beneath fear allowed space in my heart and rule in my mind.

Afraid of my daughters' always maimed emotional state, Afraid of my lack of answers, Afraid of loneliness, Afraid of quiet, Afraid of good again, Afraid of faith I thought I held, Afraid that God was closer to the middle of circumstance than I thought he would be, Afraid of smiles, of conversation, of being found, of death, of incompleteness in life, of being forgotten, of bitterness, of tears still, of acceptance, of honesty, of love.  And in that shell of walls closing tighter each fearful morning, I chose to stay.

Fear. Bad.

Fear paralyzes and reconstructs brave hearts to lonely beggars wincing at light and life abounding.  I see now in a gaze behind me of the landscape flattened by fear - no peaks, no spikes, no change, just a down slope to less than and days sold in my giving.  Fear doesn't heed to permission or resistance.  It just multiples and shuffles the deck with a lying hand.

One passage I noticed in fear's down slope came at my weakest. Honesty.

Honesty offered a new way gently rising up back to life's surface where days were met with a smile, small but true.

Only in welcoming honesty into my smaller heart could fear be loosed.

For me, and probably you, too, I feared something that wasn't even real.

I feared not being able to control or stabilize my falling.  In a bothered scribbled confession, profaning the despondent then, God was seen by my eyes down-gazing.

Fear sets in habitual foundations as we purchase all that it's selling.  The break from fear's hold comes not in mere courage, but in honesty.  You're afraid and that's okay, but don't be afraid of being afraid.  When you do, fear habituates in your heart buying up all the real estate it can.

I saw it in the mountain back country of the Rockies and in the melting mundane of days sinking.