In 2009 my family and I suffered a great loss. Our home was flooded – up to the eaves – and everything we had ever owned was lost. Much of it literally floated down the river. But each of my children, my husband, and our family pet were saved and left to the task of building a new life.
As we were piecing our lives back together we noticed a pattern.
Sleep. Wake up. Work. Get paid. Go shopping. Eat out. Watch television. Go back to sleep. Repeat.
That was pretty much it. I took my boys to church on Sunday. My husband worked at another church, so he never came with us. I joined a Bible study and sincerely enjoyed the group and the lessons but disconnected from them the next day when the world came back into focus and my desires drowned out my faith.
I met some amazing people who were powerful and rich and told me they could help me be like them. I spent a LOT of money – cashed in my 401k just to coach with this one woman in particular. She spoke like a spiritual leader. She shared her faith with me. And when the flood struck our family, she said she would support me – and then she never followed through.
That was another pattern in my family’s life. We had lots of friends who were present in our lives but when it came down to it, they were not there for us but for themselves.
I talk a lot about the flood, not because I’m a glutton for punishment or because I want your pity, but because my family and I learned so much from it. We’re still gleaning lessons from that experience – the more we reflect on it the more we understand the world, our perspectives, and our Heavenly Father’s hand in redeeming and supporting us.
Each of us develops patterns. From the time you are born you begin to experience and learn patterns; times that you should eat, sleep, play, work, snuggle, relax…we also know them as routines.
Routines – as a lot of research tells us – are safe and make us feel loved and connected to other people. We develop our closest relationships within the context of routines…our mother is our first connection, then our father, care-givers, sisters and brothers. As we get to school age we learn to develop relationships with classmates and teachers.
But the patterns that we form are not always healthy.
We know obesity is an epidemic.
Substance abuse is rising.
Cohabitation and premarital sex are common and widely accepted as a way to “test the waters” before committing to anything as (semi-) permanent as marriage.
Dependence on government assistance is rising as people develop patterns of generational dependence on welfare and other programs.
The patterns in your life make up a protective covering – a quilt. If you’re from the north (or even if you’re not) you probably know that some quilts are very heavy. The heavy quilts are perfect for those cold winter nights when the wind is whistling through the pines and drifting snow over the porch. But if it’s the middle of summer, those same quilts feel suffocating.
Our patterns in life can protect us, but it is important to recognize when those patterns are suffocating us.
I would encourage you to take an inventory of your life. Be honest with yourself.
What are you doing in your life that seems to be on auto-pilot?
How do you really feel about those experiences?
Are you actually present and engaged during those times or are you disconnected?