Over the course of the next few weeks, I'm going to run a series of posts that offer thoughts for cultivating "religious spirituality" in the midst of our busy everyday lives. These thoughts are meant to serve as a companion (or maybe, for those of you who haven't read it, as an introduction) to my recent ebook, "Why I Am Both Spiritual and Religious." In the introduction to that essay, I write:
I feel the tension in my body of both sitting in front of a computer and running after children all day long, of drinking one more Diet Coke or one more glass of wine instead of drawing energy and a sense of purpose from outside myself. I feel the tension in my spirit of constantly thinking about what needs to get done instead of cultivating contentment and rest. I feel the tension in my relationships when I don't find time to invite neighbors over for dinner, when I don't find time to check in on a friend in need, when I forget to acknowledge my sister's birthday. I long for stillness, but I struggle to order my days according to that longing. The distractions and demands of everyday life get in the way.
And I'm sure I'm not alone. I'm going to write more about prayer and reading the Bible and friendship and sex and parties and keeping the Sabbath and food and money and church membership and a few other topics. But I'll start with one overarching thought:
Figure out what your ideal day, week, and year would look like when it comes to cultivating a relationship with God. It might involve reading through the entire Bible or praying for half an hour daily or going on quarterly silent retreats or teaching a Sunday School class or singing in the church choir.
Then figure out what your real days, weeks, and years look like.
Now, instead of feeling like a failure because real and ideal are so far apart, ask God to be with you in your real life. Your busy, I don't even have time to wash my hair how on earth can I read the Bible, life. Because it is in the reality of your life that God wants to meet you. It is in the midst of the dirty dishes and professional demands and exhaustion and worry and parent-teacher conferences and ordering pizza for dinner yet again that Jesus wants to invite you to participate in God's kingdom.