Discovering Your Rule of Life
Last week I wrote about what a Rule of Life is, an opportunity to discover your own routine with God and seek wisdom for how you long to order your days.
It's also important to know what it isn't. A Rule of Life isn't a compilation of what you hope to accomplish or achieve, it's not your goals list or your vision board. But a Rule of Life does help you find a rhythm for the life you long to live and may intersect with these. Crafting (and living) your rule may even help you reach your personal or professional goals and dreams!
So, how do you begin? There are several published books and even free resources on the web to guide you in creating a very detailed rule for your life (I'll share links for those in our Peace Seekers Community this Friday, January 29th). In the meantime, I invite you to keep it simple! Start brainstorming the habits you long to cultivate as well as things you're already doing that help you live your best life with God.
Consider talking with your spiritual director or seek out a spiritual friend to help you process and notice what's important to you in this season of your life. It's not uncommon to be overwhelmed by too many goals or resolutions at the start of a year, setting ourselves up for disappointment. Remember, your Rule of Life isn't a resolution list, it's an invitation to live your whole life with God. I've found simple is best for me when cultivating my Rule of Life. Try using the categories I am currently using below (God, Self, Creation, Companions) or create your own and jot down the habits you long to cultivate for each. This is a work in progress, one you can grow into with God.
So grab a pencil or start a note in our phone to brainstorm the habits that help you find the rhythm you long for, ones that draw you nearer to your Creator. Do you long to pray or meditate daily, move your body a certain number of times per week, get outside more, connect with loved ones on a regular basis? Once you've recognized your longings and habits, you can begin to cultivate your own rhythm and routine for purposefully living an embodied life with God.
Want to see examples from my own Rule of Life tomorrow? There's a seven day free trial to join our community, click here to join us.
What is a Rule of Life?
A decade ago, in 2011, I crafted my first rule of life in a spiritual formation course while pursuing my certification. When I look back now on that first "rule" I realize now how I've grown spiritually over these past ten years, where I've been stuck (pandemic, anyone?!) and how God has met me in each stage of my spiritual journey.
A Rule of Life is an opportunity to discover your own routine with God and seek wisdom for how you long to order your days. My personality is one that swings between the rule obedience (I tried to follow) In childhood and the longing never to embrace rules others place on me as an adult. Anyone else feel like a rule rebel? But when I find the rhythm of my own rules today and embrace them, I thrive. I think this is true for most of us. If we can honor ourselves with what works for us, we can embrace discipline that helps us grow. Yet that discipline isn't the same for everyone. Afterwall, we don't have "one size fits all" bodies nor do we have "one size fits all" souls.
In the Christian community, Saint Benedict is known for inviting the monks of his order to establish the rules that shaped their lives, giving structure to what we know today in spiritual formation as a Rule of Life. While those of you reading this likely are not monks, I'm guessing you could benefit from the simple structure of a rhythm for your own life.
Living in a pandemic has invited me to revisit my rule and discover new rhythms for connecting with God. The shifting of worship, small groups, personal connection, routine, work, and everything else that had given my life structure dissolved in 2020. I was left with a shapeless routine and someone in most every room of the house logging on to a device to go about their day. I soon realized a new routine was in order if I was to connect with God.
So I began updating that Rule of Life that's undergone quite a few revisions in the past decade. And this time, it looks completely different. My Rule of Life is less structured and more inviting than ever before in regards to my daily routine. It includes good books, hot tea and time in nature. It also includes reminders of my dreams and goals and how God made me. And here's a bit of irony, there are no rules for how you create your rule.
Need some companionship in discovering your own rhythm? I'll be sharing my Rule of Life in our Peace Seekers community next week on Friday, January 29, 2021. You're invited to join our community if you'd like to be part of that conversation. This year in our private online space, we'll focus on a theme each month for ways to meet God. And in doing so, we'll be working on our own Rules for the entire year of 2021. It's not an overnight project to discover the ways you best connect with your Creator. Rather, it's a journey. You can find details to join our community by clicking here.
Have you explored a Rule of Life? What has it offered you?
A Decade Later
A decade has passed since I stumbled into this space and told the world (maybe one person actually clicked through from my link to that first post) that God was inviting me on a journey of exploring the gift of peace on January 18, 2010.
What began as a blog post written at my kitchen table, with a 5 year old under my feet, is now ministry. And, I'm mom to a teenager with a first job and a driver's permit. A lot has happened in ten years.
Ten years later, I'm learning and teaching and sharing all that God has shown me along the way and I'm more passionate than ever about evolving as a peace seeker (one seeking God's peace) and as a peace maker (one leading others to also seek God's peace) on this journey.
Do I have it figured out and live a peace-filled existence all the time? Let's get this straight, my friends: absolutely not. I'm knee-deep living into my sandwich generation (caring for both offspring and parents), learning how to run a brick and mortar yoga studio with my business partner, pondering politics, the future of the church, and inequality in our world. I'm feeling guilty over the plastic I toss and the water I waste. I wonder if I'm doing too much or not enough and where the fine line is in the middle that I can actually walk.
And I have discovered there is a false understanding that those of us who prioritize our soul care are living perfectly peace-filled lives. We aren't. The truth is that prioritizing soul care gives us peace, even when we cannot shift or change the circumstances. We begin to notice and ask, "where is God in this?" and draw nearer to the one who longs for us to pay attention. We get better at practicing presence and grow in every situation but we are not masters of the life or void of troubles.
As I reflect on drawing nearer amidst the reality and struggles in this world, I celebrate what I have learned in this past ten years of exploring peace. I've learned about my fears, my hopes, and what drives me (thanks, Enneagram!), about the world around me and creation care, how to slow down and savor time with God, how to meditate (or not), and what my Rule of Life entails (thanks, St. Benedict). I've learned what brings me joy and what makes my heart break. I've learned about essential oils and crystals and real food (thank you, Hildegard of Bingen) and how connecting with elements God created give me life and bring me peace when I need it most. I have learned how challenging it is to write down some innermost parts of myself and share those in the form of a book (thank you, Upper Room Books). I have learned how to be brave and say yes and how to say no (even when I don't want to). I have learned to walk away from places God had me for both long and short seasons and walk into new ones (even when I don't understand). I have learned to be an advocate for others. I have learned what it means to meet God in consolation and desolation (thanks Prayer of Examen and St. Ignatius). I have learned about energy work and the amazing connection we have with our bodies and the way God made us. I have learned to read scripture in a formational way (thank Lectio Divina). I have learned to explore grief, sadness, and disappointment. I have learned to feel joy and pleasure. Each of these has helped me to live present and embodied. I have learned that experiencing all this for myself deepens my relationships to others and my purpose in this world. I have learned that mastery is not the goal and exploring the gift of God's peace will forever be an invitation, not a destination. What have you learned on your spiritual journey in the past decade?
You know those self help gurus who tell you they have it all figured out? The ones that say the answers are all inside their latest release or class or program? Don't believe them. Your answers are inside of you, not them. We cannot look to anyone beyond our Creator and ourselves to explore what God offers each of us. We are each on our own exploration with God.
Your journey with God is as unique as you are are a human. And while we are unique, we need each other! Because I long for companionship on my soul journey and suspect you do too, in the coming months, more resources are coming (I've been working on these for months and 2020 is the time to invite you to join me in each of these - I am so excited about what is coming and have been bursting to give you more details!). Keep reading for a little preview of what is to come!
This year, after ten years of purposeful exploration, three new things are on the horizon for this ministry space:
1. The Exploring Peace website will be getting a fresh new look and growing to include more resources for you (look below for a hint of what is to come).
2. We'll be launching online discernment groups (where we meet virtually to dive into some of these tools I've learned and explored over the past decade). Peace Seekers and Peace Makers will be equipped with resources each month and we will meet and learn together from our own experiences. If you stumbled here from your email in-box, you'll be the first to know when the groups are open for registration (later this year). If you've landed here from social media, be sure to click here and hop on my monthly email list (I promise, I don't email you all the time, that gets old quickly).
3. And finally, Exploring Peace Meditations will be launching soon as a podcast (no more clunky downloads from this site, I'll be right in your pocket as of early 2020). Yipppeeee!
I hope you will continue to follow along as we explore this gift of God's peace in our lives together. I'm grateful for your companionship and look forward to what the next decade offers us together. Oh! I have one BIG favor. If you read this entire update and you're still here, you're part of this growth and we need your voice here. Would you be willing to offer a few words about your own journey of exploring peace (how spiritual direction, yoga and meditation, retreats, my devotional book, or some other resource has impacted you)? These short testimonials will be offered to new peace seekers to encourage their spiritual formation journey.
Thank you for being here and entrusting me on your faith journey. May 2020 be a year of discovering God in deeper ways and learning about the one God created (YOU) along the way.
Whitney R. Simpson
yoga & meditation teacher
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Whitney R. Simpson
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC