Does your schedule rule your life or does your life rule your schedule?
Chances are we’ve never thought about the nuances of the question above. We often think our schedule and life work together to ensure we stay on task, motivated, aware of what has to be done and what’s to come so that we can enjoy all the things life has to offer. We can fail to realize when our schedule becomes so packed it ends sucking the joy out of the very life it is helping us live on such a tight schedule.
I love my schedule. I love writing in my planner the schedule for the day. From my morning routine to work, to getting in a workout and going for a walk, to scheduling in time to read and even writing down ‘bedtime’, it can be a fun process to lay out your life on the pages or into the slots on your device. Organization is dreamy, amiright? But what happens when that schedule begins to rule our life instead of our life ruling our schedule?
I’ve gone through seasons of having a schedule so full that anything going ‘off schedule’ caused a negative reaction because of the domino effect of each time slot being meticulously planned. There was seemingly no time for anything other than what was planned and anything unexpected was met from me with a groan… ‘ugh, now this has to change, and I have less time for this, and no time for this now.’ To be honest, it was exhausting.
A recent season of this left me feeling just that— exhausted. This recent season being what is usually my most favourite time of the year– the Christmas season! And oh, how I was SO looking forward to this season. Of settling into a beautiful season that I had so intentionally cultivated to be lifegiving with space to reflect and enjoy the smells, tastes and sounds of the season. Well, things didn’t go according to plan and my schedule turned into packed days, not enough time to put into the things I genuinely enjoyed and a Christmas Tree that stayed up until the beginning of February because I wanted to savour it in ways I didn’t over the holiday season. I felt robbed of the joy of the season I had wanted to steep in (my word for 2020 was steep and let me tell you, I wanted that badly to end off the year).
I craved spaciousness.
I needed to process unmet expectations of how I was going through life during this unexpected season.
I wanted time to do what I enjoyed again without the pressure of the schedule.
And so, I took time.
I cleaned my schedule of anything I could that wasn’t a necessity (no side jobs, no teaching classes or doing workshops or committing to anything) and reconnected to the me that God created me to be…
I asked myself questions (and my spiritual director did, too) like,
What do I enjoy doing?
What fills me up?
What captivates me?
Who did God make me to be?
Turns out the answers have been going for walks, moving my body daily, meditating on God and His word every morning before getting out of bed, Marvel movies, looking at nature, reading about the cosmos, baking, safely seeing friends without timelines and giving of my energy and cooking skills, and a few other slow things… including repeating to myself frequently the simple yet profoundly impactful phrase, ‘I have time’.
‘I have time’.
Thinking my day is almost over at 4pm because of how my schedule used to be? “I have time”.
Considering all the things I want to do in a day? “I have time”.
Trying to wake up early to get in morning movement and Jesus time and breakfast and, and and…? “I have time”.
When I intentionally cleared my schedule, my days were no longer filled with scheduled time slots of eating, sleeping, moving, planning, connecting with friends via text (I literally would have reminders in my schedule to ‘text everyone back’) I could settle into who I was again. I had time to read and explore and become aware again of the simple beauty of God that exists around me, drawing me in, without having to produce anything out of it. To be.
I had time to read and explore and become aware again of the simple beauty of God that exists around me, drawing me in, without having to produce anything out of it. To be.
“I have time” became my daily way of living. It was spacious. It was full of rest. It was a space where creativity and inspiration didn’t flow yet but I was enjoying the rest and the play. It was recalibrating. It was ‘Selah’— a word used throughout the Psalms that there isn’t a 100% clear definition of but many commentators think that Selah meant ‘to pause’ or ‘to reflect’. This could have been a request for the reader or listener to pause and think about what has just been said, or it could have been a space for voices to pause and for instruments to play alone. The mystery is beautiful to lean into and to take the space of interlude to pause was what the past month has felt like.
And so, the transition begins to allow my life to rule my schedule. It’s a stepping back into a schedule that incorporates the life-giving things with the necessities along with the creative passions I love to share with you… all of them in harmony. Allowing them to ebb and flow but never get so dissonant it takes another reset to get there. It’s a space where I truly feel refreshed, energized, full of inspiration and the creative juices to make it happen. It’s multiple, intentional reminders throughout the day to remember God here and there and everywhere and that being is just as good as doing… while doing… but not doing too much 😉
From my experience, I offer you this…
The simple act of becoming aware of how you are being impacted by your schedule can be enough to help you move in the direction you’d most like to be. You can move closer to God, closer to rest, closer to spaciousness. You can move closer to timelines and ‘have to do’ instead of ‘get to do’. Once you’re aware, you can decipher if it’s for a season that you’ll shift out of, you can lean into what your spaciousness and rest will look like after the season you are in, you can look at what bringing harmony back into your schedule will look like. But it all starts with awareness… which can be messy and confronting, but beautiful and grace-filled.
What is your schedule like?
How does your schedule intentionally invite in space for what matters?
If your schedule doesn’t allow you to live in a way that showcases your priorities, how can it shift and change?
How do you think God experiences you as you live your daily life?