We all, I imagine, have a list of daily devotionals we carry out. Whether formalized into a list or not, surely each day you do such things as make coffee, check email, and spend time with kids or pets. These little rituals are the habitual form we take when we’re created each day, and for the most part they are a lovely aspect of a life well-lived.
Here are some of my daily devotionals:
– Take nutritional supplements (vegans need B12)
– Spend time with my children
– Make sure all the pets have food and water
– Get some exercise outside in nature
– Do something creative (write, draw, play music)
– Read articles and share on this blog
But they can go sour on you. When we miss out on our daily rituals, we can turn it into negative self-talk and self-debt. Sometimes we let our rituals define us.
This is of course ridiculous, as our lives are not our own. You are created and given all this; it comes by grace no matter how much you feel you’ve earned it. I do not recall which book it was, but I think Max Lucado described this grace something like this: You are attending to the household of the Lord, sweeping the hall and tidying the kitchen, but all of these errands must be put aside when the master calls or receives a guest. Your own agenda is nothing other than the errands of the house, and you will fight your own happiness if you do not accept interruptions when they arise… such is your holy duty.
All of your daily devotionals are contingent; you never always do any of them. I do my daily devotionals except when I don’t. I put articles on the home page of this blog every day… except when I don’t. I provide the best customer service I can to my website clients… except when I don’t. From illness to emergencies in home life, interruptions to our daily rituals are inevitable.
Here are 3 acts of self-forgiveness to keep beauty, happiness, and love in your daily rituals.
1. Let the Sabbath be your reset.
If you forget to exercise, by all means try to make it up with some extra time the next day. But don’t let such self-debt snowball into ridiculousness. Hopefully, you keep the Sabbath free of work anyway – if not for religious reasons, at least so that you can take a day away from your mundane task lists and ego-envisioned future. Beyond relaxation, simply keeping a day where you do nothing more than attend to the cues and mystery of the universe is a way of staying centered.
So go further and make the Sabbath a day where you cancel all self-debts. Did you miss some of your blog posts? Too bad, the normal schedule resumes on Monday. Failed to clean the house? Did not spend all the time you usually do with the kids? Let the Sabbath be a day of holy forgiveness by the Beloved, starting with your own self-forgiveness.
2. Give thanks when you are called.
You only missed your daily devotional because the Beloved deemed something else more important for you. Reflect on that a minute – you were picked among all the holy servants to carry out a mission vital to the household. Surely that is a solid reason to be thankful! Only the trusted servants are frequently given special duties, and only the brightest students receive the hardest lessons. If you want your entire life to be habit and routine, you are secretly wishing to be overlooked.
To be interrupted is to be loved; to live in the dreaded rut is to have distanced yourself from the Beloved. Self-forgiveness is automatic when you can emotionally embrace the glory of interruptions.
3. Take the “failure” as a wake-up call.
When we feel negative or upset that our days are not routine, that is a clear sign that we have allowed ego to cloud our vision. Ego is, in my terms, the nebulous cloud of identifications that we have – everything you suppose you are, consciously or just by assumption, is your ego. The true you, the deepest I am of you, can not be defined. Simply I am, nothing follows. For you are not a body in this world, and you are just as undefinable and fluid as consciousness and God. Indeed, who can find the lines that divide you from consciousness and God?
So, when negativity arises, you are given a very explicit opportunity to wake up. Become mindful and return to your breath, examine the thoughts and emotions rising in your brain and heart, see where you have confused the mystical being and ground of consciousness with some shifting, unreal form in this world. All the forms eternally shift, and it is the clinging to or resisting against them that is suffering.
And laugh at your failures! This world and all our life journeys are but playtimes for children, and broken hearts and minds are the way we describe too much seriousness.
How do you handle it when you fail to meet your own routine expectations? Do you have other acts of self-forgiveness that you want to share? I would love to hear about them in the comments!