Rhythms can be really helpful. Going to sleep at the same time each night, eating a healthy breakfast every day, reading your Bible daily, etc., can all lead towards having a joyful and satisfying life.
The problem is, rhythms often get upset. You can order your life just perfectly, but throw in a malfunctioning immune system, a life of ministry, and say, oh, wedding planning, and all your healthy rhythms you’ve tried so hard to create can get thrown off so quickly.
The pastor at church on Sunday was talking about idols. I turned to my fiancé, Mike, afterwards and said, “I think my biggest idol can often be trying to find perfect life rhythms.” My parents taught me discipline from a young age and it’s helped me tremendously. I was the kid that asked my mom if I could take a nap because I wasn’t about to let my older siblings throw off my schedule and make me turn into a whiny mess. I know from experience that when my rhythms are good, I am generally a happier person.
But lately, my quest for getting my rhythms right has stripped me of joy rather than fostered it. I get hyper-focused on “doing life just right” that the reality of my imperfections and life’s uncertainties smack me around and suck me dry. For example, on Wednesday I had a great day. I was full of energy, did a normal days work, got to the gym, had a quiet time, and did some creative writing with Mike. In my mind, it was a perfect day! But Thursday, the fatigue from fibromyalgia hit like a grenade and I could hardly do anything. I couldn’t even get off the couch to cook my food or take my meds. So much for rhythm. Joy evaporated.
After we recounted our experiences at church that morning, Mike, as he often does, started talking about basketball. “You know, good basketball players know rhythm very well. But great basketball players know how to surpass rhythm.” My glossy eyes suddenly grew sharply focused. Come again? “A good basketball player knows the text-book position to place their bodies such that their chances are high of making a shot. But a great player knows how to work with whatever situation they are in and make a shot, especially when their rhythm is upset. Steph Curry was a good player. He did everything to the right rhythm. But then due to a growth spurt and a frustrating summer of transition, he had to learn how to play when all his normal rhythms were thrown off. Now he is a great player.” (Note: I am no basketball expert, and I probably mis-quoted something, but you get the gist.)
I sat across from Mike with my eyes wide and mind blown. Finding good life rhythms has carried me for a long way. And I believe the ability to find them is indeed a gift from God. But now I need him to take me from being a good player to a great one. I need God to help me learn to observe that which I couldn’t before when my rhythm gets upset. I need him to show me how to still make great shots when interruptions come, when fatigue sets in, when meetings get rescheduled. And I need him to help me remember that it’s not the life rhythm that actually gives me joy. No, those are there as guides to help me see the creator of all life a little more clearly. But the rhythms themselves will always fail me at one point or another.
Perhaps all this upsetting of rhythm is not the end of all joy but the beginning of making me into a better player.
“The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.” – Mark 2:27