Well, if you haven’t realized it yet this year, those not-so-boring rituals DO make the story deeper. And this is so very true for today’s writer, my friend Heather. Enter in to her nightly ritual of pen and paper, holy book and holy time. And further check out her writing, because she’s one talented woman!
Every night, after my kids are tucked in bed, I begin.
The two books are stacked on my dresser, one on top of the other. The fatter book has a gold cross emblazoned on its black cover. The taller book is a Moleskine notebook.
Next to the stack is a black felt-tipped pen.
I sit on my side of the bed and pull everything into my lap. Then, I open up the notebook and start.
I fill one side of a page: what I’m fretting about, enjoying, pondering. Sometimes I write that I don’t know what to write; occasionally I give in to the opportunity to vent and fill three pages with indignation.
My day recorded, I pick up the other book—The Book of Common Prayer. I flip it to the most-worn page, and read the daily devotions for nighttime:
Lift up your hands in the holy place and bless the LORD; The LORD who made heaven and earth bless you out of Zion.
It’s a page long, just like my journal entry. It takes all of a minute to say aloud. Generally, before I begin Our Father, I mentally think through my prayer partner’s requests, saying a list names: her children, her husband, a friend in need.
I have found this is truly the least I can do to connect to God.
Honestly, most days I sit down and spend time with God, I notice, aching, how little time I devote. I notice how slim my effort is. I wish I could do more, even as I know that for me, doing just a little more is a terrible idea.
Honestly, I might not strike you as a perfectionist. An acquaintance of mine told me I seem very relaxed, which made me laugh like a hyena.
Underneath my calm exterior is someone very, very tightly wound.
For a long time, I knew I struggled with perfectionism, except I didn’t quite know how. I was never uptight about grades or looks, I let go of legalism about drinking or judging others, and if my house it’s clean, it’s because it helps me think, not because I’m worried about seeming untidy.
But a book I read recently talked about a kind of perfectionism that hit my heart with a bulls-eye.
It’s called scrupulosity.
It’s perfectionism of the mind, about thoughts, intentions, and meanings. I might not worry about my clothing, but it’s because I’m careful about not caring.
I want to have right motives about everything—parenting, waste, writing, dishes, money, organization, faith. Even my calm and my relaxation are carefully, scrupulously managed.
For instance, when I buy something, I want to get a good deal, and buy something organic and ethically sourced, and cruelty free, and buy it without taking too much time to research its provenance and cost, and after it’s all said and done, do I really need that thing in the first place?
Scrupulosity is like a little box in my head that keeps shrinking. No matter how I cut myself to fit, the container gets smaller, and smaller, until I can’t breathe.
On a good day, the scruples have led to repentance and bravery. But on a bad day, they make me want to curl up in my bed and weep for release. Left unchecked, there’s no end to my scruples. No enough or who cares, really? No moment too mundane to double-check and feel guilty about.
And for the biggies, like faith, it has made even the simplest of spiritual disciplines a race of anxiety, in which I’m always, always less than devoted, always thoughtless, always falling short.
In the end, I’ve realized, my scruples are about trying to save myself. Of being my own personal Jesus. Of climbing up onto a cross of my own making, pushing the Lord out of the way in the process.
My nightly ritual, I do the opposite.
I devote myself to letting Him do the saving. It’s not that my daily ritual is free of scruples, but they are pinned down with limits.
One page, one two-minute prayer. Both together take at most ten minutes. It’s a well-worn habit, taking very little effort or thought. And yet God is faithful to meet me in that tiny, empty space.
Whenever I feel ashamed that my ritual is too miniscule and shabby for the Savior of All, whenever I feel apologetic about the paucity of my offering, I remember that Jesus is the one who saves, Jesus is the maker of heaven and earth, and that much as I want to bless the Lord, the only blessing available on this earth is the one that He, in His fullness, bestows.
Heather Caliri empowers others to seek Jesus’ easy yoke. In the process, she’s finding an light burden, too. Get her free ebook, “Five Ways to Hack Your Bible Hangups” when you subscribe. Cara again: so, what do Heather’s words strike in you? How does her daily ritual of devotion reach your heart? Leave her a comment today!