Interrupting the New Routine Energy


Have you ever noticed that when you start something new, you have all this energy for it? In dating, for example, they call that “new relationship energy”, where everything is sharp and vital and you can’t get enough of each other. Well, I totally had “new routine energy” on the first day. Over the weekend, after school closure was announced, I had sketched out a rough idea of the routine I wanted to get myself and my daughter into over this long duration at home. I talked it over with her and did my best to give myself grace for that first day–that it didn’t have to be perfect and, if it didn’t come together at all, that was okay, too. You know what? The first Monday home went beautifully! We accomplished every part of my proposed routine, with minimal snags or objections. It was an absolute dream!

Then came Tuesday. The only difference in Tuesday was a moved-up dentist appointment, but everything still went relatively well. Even now, I can still feel the novelty, the newness of the routine, of this situation, buzzing along my skin, and I think it is what is keeping my daughter relatively docile. New things, new chances, new interactions with these people with whom I spend my life. Despite this being our house, our town, our stuff, this is now our daily routine(s) writ small and contained in this space. It’s still there, that “new routine energy”, but I cannot help but think on down the road, down the days and weeks, to where the routine will become…well…routine. When it gets old and the everyday sets in. That’s when things get hard, tempers get short, the space seems too small, and the days seem oh, so long.

That is when we really need each other. When we start to follow blindly because “it’s what we do”, that’s when it is so very helpful to have that surprise phone call from a friend, your favorite song playing as their ringtone. That is when the chirp of the video-chat call on your computer or a letter in the mail is so very welcome. That is when a break in the energy is needed.

Jesus interrupted that “routine energy” on a not-so-routine basis. He ate at the homes of tax collectors and social pariahs. He held conversations with women often called harlots. He touched the untouchable. For Jesus, “this is how we have always done it” wasn’t good enough. If it didn’t center around people and love and mercy, it was not good enough. Life as it had always been done was not “routine” for Him.

May we be willing to break our routines for people, for love, for mercy. May we take that extra time at the table or on the couch to listen to the story our child made up. May we make just a little more coffee than normal so that our partner can have an extra cup as they try to figure out how Microsoft Teams works. May we be willing to do what Jesus did: break the routine energy in those moments when it is (or even just could be) so very vital.

A Long Way from Home – Day 1: Bumping My Happy


Back again in my childhood home. Haven’t even been here 24 hours and already someone in my family has commented that I look like I’ve gained weight. Not “You look nice” or “It’s good to see your face”. Heck, I would have even taken a “You look absolutely exhausted”  after twelve hours of traveling today. But, no, I get “But it looks like you’ve put on some weight.” Thanks. Really, thanks a lot. Sufficed it to say, coming back to my childhood home is almost never good for my self-esteem and, unfortunately, I don’t think it’s ever going to change. It’s always been this way. It doesn’t make it kind or right but it’s been happening for as long as I can remember. People who really have no business  commenting on others’ bodies (and often no leg to stand on) make snide comments that are really expected to be taken as a joke when, at best, they are assuming and dismissive and, at worst, can be emotionally devastating.

I have told the story of how a favorite dress (a gorgeous maroon and black cheongsam) was left to fade away into obscurity in my closet because someone thought it was their place and job to thoughtlessly inform me that I looked fat in it. What I will never forget is how confused he seemed when I told him not to speak to me anymore and to go away. As if he just couldn’t grasp why I was so upset. I know I spoke to that young man briefly at least one other time after that, when I was in grad school. This time, he expressed his surprise that I had a boyfriend but wouldn’t explain just why it was surprising. I will admit that I most definitely unfriended, deleted, and/or blocked him on all levels and platforms after that. That was an energy and presence that I just didn’t need.
Energy. I hadn’t thought of it that way but it’s an almost perfect example. It’s very, very hard when you expend such energy on your life, on doing what’s good for your family, for your child, for your friends, and for yourself, only to have the only thing remarked on to be your physical weight. Your particular form’s relationships with gravity. Just as you pour your energy out, others pour their energy into you, and deciding what to do with it–to use it to make bricks to add to my path or to sit in it and let it suck me down further–is really hard sometimes. The struggle is so very real when my happy-with-myself gets bumped. I do my best to either reply nicely or not reply at all. This seems like a prime opportunity to practice grace, as well as salting my words and reminding myself of my glorious.