My Rule of Life

My challenge to each of us this January: write down a rule of life that will help us grow deeper in our faith.

(What is a rule of life? Read this first.)

A rule of life gives order and intention to our lives of faith.

Because the truth is, we all already have a rule of life. We may not be aware of it, but we all have one.

What do you do when you first get up in the morning? Brush your teeth, make coffee, scroll Instagram? What do you do on your morning commute? Listen to the news, drink coffee, make work calls? How do you get ready for bed? Watch TV, scroll Instagram, read? (you can tell I love Instagram and coffee too much)

We all have habits and routines, whether we are intentional about them or not.

The point of creating a rule of life is to be thoughtful and intentional about how we spend our time.

The truth behind creating a rule of life is that faith isn’t just something we do on Sundays from 10 – 11. Faith is, instead, a trellis that can give structure and meaning to our lives.

A rule of life reminds us that our faith doesn’t just govern big moments of our lives. Our faith can also guide the small, mundane moments of our lives. And when we are thoughtful about how we structure our lives, faith becomes the trellis that our lives can grow on.

So today, take out a piece of paper and write down your rule of life. Here’s a template:

I desire a relationship with God that is: _____________________ (fill in the blank: grounding, challenging, steady, exciting, encourages me to grow, etc)

My faith guides me to ____________________ daily (fill in the blank: what spiritual practice will you commit to doing every day? Say Morning Prayer; light a candle; pray for five minutes in silence)

As a disciple of Jesus, I will ___________________ weekly (fill in the blank: what spiritual practice will you commit to doing every week? Attend worship at my church; volunteer for an hour; write a letter to a far-away friend)

Because I want to love God, love others, and love myself, I will _________________ monthly (fill in the blank: what will you commit to doing every month? Spend ten minutes reflecting on where I saw God moving in the past month; write a letter to God/Spirit/Love; turn off my phone for an hour)

If you come to St. Andrew’s by-the-Sea this Sunday, we will do this exercise together. But wherever you are in the world, you can join me – write down your own rule of life.

It doesn’t have to be perfect.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

It can change as your life changes.

What is your rule of life?

One Little Thing

A rule of life is like a trellis, the framework upon which our spiritual lives can grow. 

A rule of life gives order to our lives, so that we can dance and move creatively within the borders of our rule.

What does a rule of life actually look like?

Last week, we answered the question: How would I describe the relationship with God that I desire and seek?

Moving from your answer, this week we are going to identify one little thing we can incorporate into our daily lives that will bring us closer to the kind of relationship with God that we seek.

Fill out this simple form:

Three words to describe the kind of relationship with God that I desire:

One little thing I can do each day that brings me closer to that kind of relationship:

The time of day I will do that one little thing:

Here’s my answer:

Three words to describe the kind of relationship with God that I desire: grounding, growing, challenging

One little thing I can do each day that brings me closer to that kind of relationship: set a timer for 5 minutes and sit in silence.

The time of day I will do that one little thing: after I brush my teeth at night

Feeling stuck? Here is a list of spiritual practices you might try as your one little thing:

  • lighting a candle (yes, it can be this simple)
  • set a timer and sit quietly for five minutes
  • turn off your phone for one hour
  • doodle
  • lectio divina (prayerfully reading a small portion of the Bible)
  • go for a walk without headphones and notice
  • pay attention to your breath. breathe in for a count of four, hold for four, breathe out for a count of four, hold for four. this is called square breathing.
  • write a letter to God
  • say the Lord’s Prayer

This week, try doing your one little thing each day. Is it difficult to make this commitment? Do you sense God’s presence differently in your life when you add this one little thing?

Remember: our relationships with God are not about doing the right thing, and we don’t always need to make huge changes in order to follow a rule of life. 

What’s your one little thing? Share it with one other person this week.

peace,

Mother Mary Lynn

Join the Year of Discipleship

January 1st often feels like a good time to start something new.

It can also be intimidating – what will my resolution be? How will I be the best version of myself in this new year?

Maybe the invitation this new year isn’t to the “best version of you,” but to walk closer to Jesus.

I often make new year’s resolutions, but quickly abandon them.

This January, instead of setting unrealistic goals, I’m going to build a rule of life.

What is a rule of life?

The Anglican monastic community The Society of St. John the Evangelist has great resources for building a rule of life.

This January, we will take this one step at a time, together.

This week, take time to answer this question by journaling:

How would I describe the relationship with God that I desire and
seek?

Here’s my answer: I desire a relationship with God that gives my life meaning and purpose, a relationship that grounds me and keeps me steady amid the chaos of my life. I desire a relationship with God that challenges me, that points my steps in the direction of justice, that brings me out of myself into relationship with others and with the world around me. I seek a relationship with God that isn’t perfect but is full of grace; a relationship where I can be honest about my struggles, my addictions, and my sins, and where I can find true forgiveness. I desire a relationship with God that grows with me as I grow, changes with me as I change. I seek a relationship that reminds me, over and over again, that my life is part of the bigger story of God’s love for the world.

What’s your answer? Share in the comments, with someone you love, or with me! Send me an email and let’s have coffee and talk about our rules of life!

to 2020, the year of discipleship,

Mother Mary Lynn

More information about building a rule of life: https://episcopalchurch.org/files/living-intentionally.pdf

Author, Spiritual Director, and grandmother Margaret Guenther speaks about how valuable a “Rule of Life” can be even for those of us pursuing a spiritual life without living in a formal religious community.