A friend and I were chatting recently and she was talking about how guilty she felt about missing church lately. Work has picked up, plus she is taking a class on Saturday, and she felt really overwhelmed by life. She normally looks forward to worshipping with her faith community but has found herself opting to go to yoga class on Sunday morning instead of services. It’s the only morning all week that she is not obligated to be somewhere else.
She’s not unhappy with her choices, not with work or the class or even with choosing yoga, but she’s spilling guilt because of her “should”. She feels even worse because she’s not sorry about skipping services. The idea that she is “supposed to” go to church, that this routine is part of her identity, has become bigger than it’s purpose, which is to bring her comfort. Routine is not a bad thing, this one usually made her feel better, but it had become so rigid that instead of bringing stillness when she needs it, she feels stuck in it.
I asked her why she’s been choosing the yoga class and she told me that she needed a respite from outside voices; there’s so little time to hear her own inner guide. She hasn’t abandoned her faith, she hasn’t abandoned her prayer or devotion. She doesn’t believe that the God of her understanding would ever be mad at her for caring for herself or that she would not go back to a room full of open arms and open hearts when she is ready to go back.
She loves worshipping with her congregation because it brings her peace and stillness, but she needs something different right now. Being flexible enough to embrace your needs is one of the ways that you preserve your peace.
Being still does not mean you are stuck, You are not beholden to routines that do not serve you, and few things will serve you all of the time and or forever.
Stillness is not static; it is not immovable. Think of it like one of those gyroscopic “unspillable” cup holders that tilts in all kinds of crazy directions so that your beverage doesn’t end up all over your car seat. The cup itself is moved all over the place to compensate for the bumps in the road but the contents, though they may slosh around a bit, remain safely in place. The cup isn’t just held, the contents are protected. Isn’t that the purpose of bringing your drink with you, to preserve the contents so that you can enjoy them?
Stuck, in contrast, is if you were to take that same cup of hot coffee and put it in the regular old rigid cup holder in your center console. You’re then just one sharp left turn away from a lap full of hot java. That beverage, immovable and stuck, can be depleted with a few unexpected bumps in the road. That’s what can happen when a routine becomes more important than it’s purpose. Is the cup holder really serving you if your drink is spilled all over your vehicle?
Don’t be afraid to examine your routines. If your comfort zone is no longer comfortable then it’s time to move. Take inventory of what you need and actively seek it. Move into stillness.