Most of us have routines! Because planning helps me get things done I generally like routines. Planning is important to me. Don’t we like to know what is going to happen in the next few days? Proverbs reminds us: “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” (Chapter 27; verse 1.) We do not allow for major detours in life as we schedule, but we should not lose sight of the truth: Detours happen. The plans we have will eventually go awry, never forgetting: God, too, has plans and His ways are higher!
I went out yesterday and for the first time in nearly two months, I outlasted my list of errands. It is rare for me to be sick for more than a day or two. This time, it was nearly 2 months. I’d been somewhere every week, but it was a struggle and if errand related, I rarely finished my list.
As most of you know, I traveled to India early June; jet lag ran right into illness that remains unexplained, but my suspicion is that I contracted one of the strains of Covid. About 2 weeks ago I began to feel consistently better, without setbacks, and today I feel great. Wholeheartedly, I praise the Lord for renewed strength, having been reminded of its preciousness.
Two months have passed and my routine is amok. While waiting for strength to return I spent more time thinking, which is not a bad thing. Two months is not a prolonged illness when compared to battles others are fighting. No matter your plight or struggle, you are never alone and usually, someone you know has a greater trial than you do. Perspective can be a teacher.
One of the things I considered was how to get back on track after plans are disrupted. I use the word “disruption” because illness is not the only thing that can turn our proverbial world upside down.
What about those suffering with debilitating illness? Or those with a family member that is struggling? Illness usually is accompanied with some level of discouragement, even depression.
I recently learned first-hand how the death of a spouse or close loved-one can destroy a routine. Illness among loved ones brings about necessity to change plans, often greatly. I have a friend that owns a large business. She was just admitted to the hospital with ongoing illness, definitely not in her plans.
Have you experienced a major house repair or renovation? That can cause routines to be entirely tossed. There is no shortage of things that can disrupt plans. Things that are planned can throw a schedule off for a variety of reasons.
A move across town or across country; they say there is little difference. Both are stressful and tiring. You must change nearly your entire routine – and this – is usually done on purpose! Once the move is finished, the work continues and it may be months before you really feel settled again. The stress is physical and emotional. God recognises this. Think of Elijah when he was overwhelmed. “And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.” (1 Kings 19:7)
I’d suggest you read this tender account in 1 Kings 9:1-8. Be encouraged. Ponder the times God has ministered to you in this way, for surely He has.
Difficult things rarely happen one thing at a time. I began several maintenance and repair projects to my home early Spring, the first large projects I tackled without a husband. There were definite moments of great fatigue and stress; I needed to make a trip in the middle of the projects. Then I began preparing to travel to the other side of the world before the house returned entirely to home status. This period was interspersed with other unanticipated responsibilities and burdens. By the time I arrived in India, I was “ripe” for a crash. Down I went.
These are the things of life and God allows them, even orchestrates them with personal purposes for our lives. A nice word for these events is “testings.”
Because my time with God, or TWG as I often think of it, is a constant, I rarely became frazzled throughout. The Bible speaks truth to us, reminds us Who is in control and also of the most important things of life.
When we are particularly busy our minds seem to race. I tend not to trust those thoughts and ideas so much because the mind has not been still nor meditative. It is “in the flesh” thinking more than “in the Spirit” thinking. It is vital and beneficial to spend the best part of each day with God, the part when our minds and bodies are rested and our surroundings are relatively quiet. This is easy for me because it is first thing in the morning. While my coffee is brewing, I set up my desk to read and meditate therein. I scribble notes to think about throughout the day and beyond. It is, for me, like treasures discovered. “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.” (Isaiah 33:6)
The verse above is worthy of considerable meditation, particularly if you sense a lack of stability in your life. This is a beautiful verse and promise.
There may be times when I cannot read my Bible or meditate as is my habit, but I can consider a couple of Scriptures that frequently cross my mind most every morning. If my eyes open, I can greet the Lord. If they do not, surely I will have met Him!
By the grace of God, I cannot recall a day in the past couple of months when I did not feel up to reading my Bible in the morning. I did feel like Elijah in some ways. I slept, got up, ate a bit, then went back to sleep. I did this for nearly a month.
Finding Your Way Back to a Better Routine
Returning to comfortable routines can be difficult and the best way will vary from person to person. Several things have helped me, as I get back into the place that is “my groove.”
First thing I would suggest is to consider what is best for you and your circumstances. Some women will just jump back into old routines, without considering that those old routines might not have been serving them well. Ask yourself: “Were the routines part of the problem?”
Edit your routines where you sense a need. I think you can be better for it, benefitting yourself and those around you.
It may be important to remind yourself that God is woven throughout your life. Is He? Can you sense this daily? Upheaval is for a purpose and we don’t want to miss whatever lessons may be learned.
I am on the verge of revamping my website. I know that it is poorly designed. The designer and creator was at fault. Twas I. I imagined something but lacked technical ability to follow through. Sometimes we just need help. Help can be a blessing to the recipient and to the helper. This time of being down allowed me to consider the issues and possible solutions. The benefit should be less involvement with the technical aspects, greatly illuminating stress and freeing some time. Win! A win for you too! A more pleasant experience when you visit me here!
When your routines are disrupted, there are some things you don’t want to do. Despite how miserable you are feeling, life around you continues on.
You do not want to allow your regular bills, utilities, taxes and other set obligations to become overdue. If you are not able to get those things handled, ask for help. Getting back to normal is less painful if these things do not accumulate.
Endeavor to maintain some semblance of order in the areas you are spending most of your time. Clutter and chaos have no positive and uplifting traits, unless they are an inspiration to get up and get moving again. Clutter serves no advantages that I have found.
Make an extra effort to continue faithfully with any nutritional supplements or medicines that you would normally be taking.
Note to self: Those supplements you were taking have kept your immune system strong should not be discontinued for more than a day. It was probably doubly important to continue with them while navigating time zones. But you know that and have had a glaring reminder. Make an extra effort next time. Whether or not they could have prevented this illness, you do not know, but lack of consistency does raise a question.
When I thought I felt like an unproductive slug, sluggard, I wrote 2 or 3 things down I wanted to accomplish in a day. They were small, but important, but did little to get me “caught up.” After a time of completing tasks successfully, I added a couple more every day.
I completed these things on my list yesterday:
- Work on article about disrupted routines
- IM … and IM is my acronym for intentional movement.
- Finish class prep for Friday; get visuals together
- Read to the “grands.”
- Errands in town.
- Send 2 email notes
I put six doable things down and completed all. The tasks on my list might not have been list worthy when I felt well; they were more of auto tasks, but when you are doing nothing, everything is worthy of a reminder and the accomplishment is an encouragement. These were the reminders of important things so I can begin to slowly get caught up. I wanted to add more, but resisted. Within the last 2 weeks, the little progresses are beginning to accumulate. Progress feels slow, but it is real and the list helps me remember the most important.
It is important to be kind to yourself without being wimpy. Whose schedule has not been overthrown with the things of life? The list is mine; no one sees it. I know if I have been faithful to it or not.
As things get back to normal, use this time to consider and to pray about things and people that matter. Your down time need not have been in vain. Truly, this is likely part of the reason for whatever upheaval experienced in your life. We need God, but He wants us.
As you get back to what may become a more normal routine, allow for adaptations and perhaps, permanent changes.
I think of a time of illness, a great loss or other major changes almost like I would a new year. It is an ideal time to take stock of our lives and purpose to do better in the future. We have the ability to adapt beautifully – not to be equated with easily – if we make the effort.
God created us mind, body and spirit. Each part of who we are needs feeding everyday. Consider how you are meeting the needs of each. I would dare to say, that if you put the spiritual first, that God will strengthen the mind and body in supernatural ways.
Keeping the spirit fed helps process challenges in your life, expected and unexpected. You will continue maturing in your faith, allowing you to meet challenges with grace, confident that you have done your best for that day and you can find peace in knowing that is enough.
In closing, I would tell you that my schedule is more like a loose reminder because I really do need reminded. By keeping current on most things most of the time, I have built in flex time when there is a ministry opportunity I feel led to be involved in.
“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Lord bless you and keep Ladies.
“We are to make a plan for the day, pray over that plan, and then proceed with that plan. When we are willing to regard the unexpected as God’s intervention, we can flex with the new plan, recognizing it as God’s plan.” ― Elizabeth George