With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s more essential than ever to keep things simple.
If you don’t establish boundaries, life will just crowd in. And you quickly find yourself consumed by whatever is in your face. In that environment, what has lesser importance can assume greater importance than it should.
That’s why I’ve been searching for practices that help me to keep perspective. I just want to keep it simple.
Searching for something
The spiritual life of the dedicated Latter-day Saint doesn’t really include regular devotions scheduled during the calendar year. A one-day fast for each month and General Conference every six months is as close as we get.
As great as fasting and Conference are, I’ve felt the need for something more.
Daily scripture study and prayer help. I often have more perspective with these practices than without. However, I still feel the need for something more.
I think that’s part of what marriage provides. But since that involves the agency of another person, I and other singles need something that can help fill the gap.
But I’ve also lived where attending one session is an all-day affair. Regular temple attendance, no matter where you live, requires you to schedule the time for it. But this becomes more necessary the further you have to travel.
I thought since I have to carve out the space anyway, I could find a sense of newness of perspective by attending a different temple. Certainly that’s been the case. But I also found some of the same impracticality with the pilgrimage to Salt Lake.
Attending multiple endowment sessions or combining an endowment session with other work in the temple brought similar results.
I need a part of the calendar year reserved as an expected time for seeking that new perspective to help me keep things simple. That way I don’t need to schedule it or think about it. And I need it to happen when the push towards complication is at its peak.
My journey has led me to what I call Renewal. For each of 40 days, I study a part of the Sermon on the Mount for my regular scripture study. I ponder what that part means. And then I set a goal to apply what I learned, usually during the same day. The next day I report my results in a journal and then repeat the process.
This is my third year doing this, and I think this will stay. Renewal is certainly evolving, but it fits so well in so many ways.
Is there any time of year busier than the holiday season at the end of the year? This is when grounding in simplicity is most needed. So this is when I practice Renewal.
Renewal essentially covers the holiday season. Using the last 40 days of the year makes November 22 the first day. So Renewal begins around Thanksgiving. Renewal includes Christmas before ending on December 31. Thus, what is really the manual for Christian discipleship strongly influences my goals for the new year.
The 40-day length has scriptural significance. The best example comes from Christ’s 40-day fast in the wilderness at the start of His mortal ministry. By engaging a regular process that also lasts 40 days, I link my effort for simplicity to Christ and His ministry.
I can practice Renewal anywhere and at any stage of my life. Because it serves as my scripture study for each of those 40 days, the time for it is already reserved. And with the schedule in hand of what to study each day, all I need is to do.
Find your own practice
Space won’t permit me to share the schedule here. I’ll probably write a book about it. But in the meanwhile, feel free to ask if you’re interested.
‘Tis the season to be simple. Whatever helps you keep things simple is well worth your time and effort to incorporate into the rhythm of your life. Find whatever works for you and go for it.
And feel free to share what does work for you in a comment. Maybe you’ll help someone who needs to hear what you offer.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and since 2018 I've been producing a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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