Last month, every little thing I was involved in outside of work finally caught up to me. I felt burnt out with everything in life, and it was hard to find joy in anything I did when there was not enough time to do them all. So I asked one of my mentors for advice. Sensing that I was not managing my time well, she suggested that I block out every chunk of time outside of work in a way that represents how I’d ideally divide up my time, focusing especially on my time with God and personal relaxation. Since I started this routine, it’s helped my focus greatly, and I’ve been more productive while being better rested as a result. By recognizing the importance of giving time to even the smallest, seemingly mundane things, I have been able to have a better schedule without being burnt out. And so, even as I’m writing this post, it’s during a specifically blocked off time in my calendar.
At first, I was wary of trying out this new lifestyle, since it would make my daily life much more routine and regulated. I had mixed feelings about it, since in the past it’s both helped me push through immense amounts of work, and been an ineffective burden that quickly bored me. However, the best result to come out of scheduling my time in this way was how I began to see joy in the small, routine aspects of my life. Subsequently, I realized that I was actually seeing God in the seemingly insignificant tasks that I had to do every day.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. -Proverbs 3:5-6
This is a popular verse for many Christians, and I had the privilege to hear a great sermon on it a few months ago. In it, my pastor discussed the idea of our journey with God as being on a path and how paths are used for walking. Walking is a very routine process; we take left-and-right steps over and over again to reach a destination. Once you’re on a path, the only way to move forward (no cheating with other forms of transportation) is to take individual steps on the path, even though these steps seem meaningless on their own.
Similarly, when we’re walking with Christ, it’s the small decisions, attitudes, and disciplines that define this walk, not necessarily the big life experiences. In fact, these significant events help us see what we’ve become due to these small things we’ve done, and when we make decisions in big life experiences, these small steps are what lead us to have the wisdom to make those big ones. Therefore, through this experience, I’ve learned that one way to read these verses in Proverbs is this: On this path toward Jesus on which God sets us, we are called to take routine steps and follow every small discipline, so that during this walk, God can bestow wisdom upon us and guide us forward.
While there is always a happy medium between living a regulated life and living a completely schedule-less one, trying this out has helped me to see that even the smallest things I do, from checking my emails to doing laundry, can be routine disciplines that are a part of my walk with God. When I felt burnt out, it was because I viewed each of these things as less important compared to the big decisions or projects I needed to finish. But perhaps it’s not only the leaps we make, but also these routine steps we take that bring a new meaning to the idea of walking that straight path.