I am a runner. Not a fast runner nor a good runner, but at least I can say I am a runner. I have mapped out several routes near my house. I have two, three, four, five, seven, nine and 11 mile routes that I run depending on how much time I have and how good of condition I am in. In truth, the two mile run is no different than the 11 mile run when I am in good shape, other than the fact that the 11 miler is more enjoyable. I am in no shorter breath after the two miler than I am the 11 miler. My muscles may be a bit more tired, but not much. Why is this?
A few years ago, while visiting my wife’s parents, I decided to run from the place we were staying at in town to their house out in the country. The total distance was about seven miles. I remember how much I was looking forward to the run. We had traveled several days to get there (we live in the D.C. metro area and they live in Kansas) and upon arrival, we had done a lot of sitting around. The fresh air and running was a treat.
In the beginning, I was having a good time. Running, praying and enjoying the scenery; but there was a problem. The run was primarily one long stretch of highway and I was not used to it. I had no landmarkers and no way of knowing where I was. This threw my pace off and I was a bit lost. Somewhere along the line, my prayers switched from conversation with God to “PLEASE make this run stop!” I would pray that I could see Robin’s parents house as I ran over each hill, but I was continuously disappointed. My muscles were sore and I was tired.
When running my routes at home, I have familiar landmarkers. These landmarkers let me know where I am and what I am looking for next. They also help me set my pace. I like to push myself a bit, and so my pace changes up depending on where I am in the run. The routes and landmarkers seem to help my muscle memory know what pace I need to be at.
This is what family rhythms do in our lives. I am a church planter and church “professional” (not really, but I suppose that’s what my job title says). Robin is a full-time nurse. We have three kids and one is an infant. I am not supposing our life is much crazier than anyone else’s or that you could not handle ours, but I am proud of how our family does it with relative ease.
Breakfast and dinner questions and prayers and our bedtime routine serve as our primary daily rhythms. But we also need weekly, monthly and even seasonal rhythms. These rhythms allow the mental “muscle” memory to kick in and keep us enjoying life, rather than panicking and stressing.