Fall is, without a doubt, my favorite season. It’s also a beautiful reminder of the importance of rhythms in our lives. Fall only makes sense if we also know the heat of seemingly endless summer days, the harsh beauty of winter, and the vibrancy of spring. If all we knew was fall, autumn would lose its wonder. Ultimately, it’s the rhythm of all the seasons that I really cherish.
When we look at creation, we realize rhythm is essential to God’s design for the world – from seasons, to ocean tides, to sunrise and sunset, there is a rhythmic interplay that permeates the natural world. The same is true for us, the very best of God’s creation. We need to live our lives with defined rhythms – daily, weekly, and seasonally – if we’re going to thrive.
Rhythm isn’t about wild fluctuation between extremes. It’s about a gentle, steady, and life-giving back and forth. Rhythms aren’t about compensating for the mistakes and excesseses of the past season. They are about being present to the possibilities of this season. Rhythms aren’t about forcing us to do what we don’t want to do. They’re about helping us find the life we’re longing to experience.
When I cooperate with three essential rhythms, I’m the best version of myself.
In many ways, this is the foundational rhythm that shapes each of our days.
It’s about enjoying breakfast with my family before we head off into the world. It’s about working hard on things that really matter, fighting distraction, and leaning into the roles God is asking me to play in life. It’s about stewarding my time so that I can power down my computer, put my phone on do not disturb, and have dinner with my family. And it’s about Sabbath, voluntarily fasting from productivity for 24 hours each week.
The trick for me is remembering that rest isn’t just a productivity hack, it’s an essential rhythm to our life with God. Our minds, bodies, and souls need to power down so they can be renewed and replenished. Ultimately, rest is about trust. Do we trust God enough to turn our phones off and go for a hike?
We also need to remember that work isn’t a curse, it’s a gift. We are created to do meaningful work – a life of laziness or leisure is never going to bring joy either. We need to get our hands dirty, our minds engaged, and our bodies tired. Those are also essential elements for our thriving.
Here’s the key point on this one: We ALL need BOTH, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. Yes, we all probably get more energy from one than the other but we ALL need BOTH. Community Groups are for introverts and silence and solitude is for extroverts!
At Restoration City, we talk a lot about community because spiritual formation is ultimately a relational process. We grow and change in community. In order to thrive, we need to be known by a close circle of friends and we need to invest the time in getting to know a close circle of friends. But we also need to be alone with God. There’s a reason Bonhoeffer devotes an entire chapter to silence and solitude in his classic book on community, Life Together. He begins the chapter with this thought:
Let him who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. Alone you stood before God when he called you; alone you had to answer that call; alone you had to struggle and pray; and alone you will die and give an account to God. You cannot escape from yourself; for God has singled you out. If you refuse to be alone you are rejecting Christ’s call to you, and you can have no part in the community of those who are called.
Bonhoeffer, Life Together, Chapter 3
Being alone with God looks different for each of us in different seasons of life but we must learn to live in a rhythm of community and solitude.
I know this sounds a lot like the work/rest rhythm but it’s not. This rhythm isn’t about how we organize our days, weeks, or months. It’s about how we make sense of major seasons of our lives.
For example, I think of 2019-2021 as an extended season of action in my life. I was pastoring a church, finishing up a degree, raising three small kids, and doing all of that in the upheaval of a global pandemic. While I tried to maintain rhythms of rest and solitude, I knew that I was in a season marked by a lot of activity. I wasn’t necessarily asking as many big picture questions. I was more tactical, trying to figure out what we needed to do to get through each fresh crisis.
But then in February of 2022, things began to shift. I was on a short retreat with a good friend and felt the Lord telling me I was headed into a season of contemplation. I needed to rethink some major things in my life – deeper clarity on vocation, fresh vision for the church, a new perspective on some key relationships, and a deeper trust in God. It’s only been very recently that I’ve felt the pendulum start to swing towards a season of action where I get to bring some of what I’ve learned over the past months to life.
Bottom line: you were created to live in rhythm. The goal is not to impose artificial rhythms on your life but rather to unearth the rhythms that are in your soul and cooperate with them. Rhythms ultimately shape our calendars but that’s not where they start. They start by listening to our souls.
So, what does your soul need in this season?