The Unsilent Church:

Reclaiming the church as a great social justice movement maker

Disciplined?

Dear friends—

When I decided to do this little Advent experiment, I had this lofty goal that I would get up early in the morning and write before I did anything else.  I would sit in the quiet living room with a cup of coffee and be inspired by the quiet.  It would be a lovely way to start each day…and I would feel accomplished and serene and so spiritually grounded.  Ha!  I am sure that you have noticed that these little meditations don’t go out first thing in the morning….yes indeed…it is already 6:30 pm right now.

With the exception of Sunday morning (and just because of sheer panic to be ready for worship), I can’t get up early regularly.  I just can’t.  It might be because I am not a good sleeper.  It might be that my schedule changes every week.  It might be because I just don’t have the willpower.  But for whatever reason, I struggle every morning to get out of bed by 7:45 to get Josiah to school by 9:00.  I long to suddenly change into a bright=eyed morning person, but now that I am almost 50, I think it is time to adjust my expectations.

But when it comes to spiritual disciplines, I have this bizarre image in my head that one has to do spiritual things first thing in the morning.  I have this notion that “real” spiritually-alive people get up at 5:00 every morning, light a candle, read the bible, journal, and pray like clockwork.  Spiritually-disciplined people have a routine, an infrastructure, a daily habit.  They are, well, disciplined.  But let’s be real…that is not me.  Not by a long shot.  I have ADHD and an ever-changing schedule.  My husband works shift work as an RN at the University of Michigan hospital.  No two weeks look the same.  It takes an enormous amount of energy to superimpose a rigid routine on top of our lives.  But for some reason, once again, I thought to myself “this time will be different!”

I wonder if this is the case for some of you.  Do you have an image of what a faithful person is or does?  Do you struggle with “forcing” yourself to be that ideal image?  When you fail to live into that perfect image, do you feel like you have failed?  When a sacred season like Advent or Lent rolls around, do you try to be someone you are not, thinking that this is what God wants from you?  And when you don’t succeed, or miss a day, or just plain give up, do you berate yourself?  I do.  I start to feel like a fraud.  And sometimes, I feel like I have failed you…you, my people. 

Advent isn’t about perfection.  Advent isn’t about conforming to an ideal.  It is about promise.  It is about preparation.  It is about that paradox we talked about last week.  It is about acknowledging that we are the created, the ones in need of grace, not the creator, the one offering grace.  It is about the journey toward the birth of the Christ child, and for most humans, that journey meanders.  Advent calls us to be faithful sojourners but doesn’t dictate what the journey must look like.  The promise doesn’t suddenly diminish because we stumble along the way…

Friends, this is all to say…be gentle with yourself and your loved ones this Advent season. 

Blessings,
Deb


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4 responses to “Disciplined?”

  1. pianoveena Avatar

    Loved this! Thanks for this gentle word ~

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    1. Rev. Dr. Deborah Dean-Ware Avatar

      I am glad it was meaningful to you!

      Like

  2. Pat Avatar
    Pat

    This posting really spoke to me. I seem to perpetually feel like I’m not “christian enough” combined with guilt about affluence privilege. I’m not doing enough, sharing enough, giving enough to be worthy of god’s love. So I’m leaning into the paragraph about advent and perfection. The advent musings have helped me sit with these feelings in a more constructive and positive way. Keep writing!

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    1. Rev. Dr. Deborah Dean-Ware Avatar

      Thanks so much! You are not alone in this struggle, and I appreciate everything you do.

      Like

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