Each month, you’ll hear from one of us on what we’re reading and a little bit about the book. Enjoy!
I’m someone who loves to set intentions for a new year, but by February I usually find my best intentions have gone by the wayside. (Anyone else?) Honestly, nearly two months into the new year is the perfect time to read a book like Rhythms of Renewal.
One of the things I loved most about Rebekah Lyons’s Rhythms of Renewal was that she shared honestly and openly about her own struggles with anxiety and how creating rhythms in her life helped combat it. And I deeply appreciated Rebekah’s early mention that “the practices in this book aren’t meant to replace professional treatment for those who need it.” In other words, this book is not offering a quick fix or fix-all for anxiety. It’s offering practices that can help reset our hearts and lives to enjoy the abundant life God wants for us. Here is a helpful outline of how she breaks down rhythms over the course of the book:
The first two [rhythms]—Rest and Restore—are ‘input rhythms,’ rhythms that allow the peace of Jesus to fill us. The latter two rhythms—Connect and Create—are ‘output rhythms,’ rhythms that pull us out of our own heads and help us engage with the world around us.
Looking at the specific rhythms in the book, I loved that they were all deeply practical. Each of the four sections of rhythms (rest, restore, connect, and create) had seven specific practices to try. The way I’m wired, I’m tempted to read through all of these and come away with a giant to-do list of things I need to implement in my daily life. Instead, I pushed myself to think about the rhythm from each section I most struggled with and start there. My guess is that everyone reading this book has different rhythms they struggle with the most, so start there!
Here are a few of the rhythms that stood out to me throughout the book: practicing Sabbath, giving yourself permission to play, having an open-porch policy, and making memories.
Practicing Sabbath is something I’ve found myself digging into more as I’ve gotten older and life has become busy. I’ve realized this practice of rest has been a challenge for me, and this statement in the book seemed to point to the reason many of us struggle to rest in our culture today:
Taking a rest isn’t a sign of weakness. Yet our culture whispers the opposite: if we try harder, work smarter, make the right career moves, get that next degree, work overtime, connect with influencers, and go for our dreams, we just might live a life of significance. But God declares we are already chosen, beloved, appointed, and set apart. He ordered our lives with purpose and intention. We don’t need to hustle to prove something God says is already true.”
How wonderful is it that we can stop our striving and rest in Christ? This is both convicting and a great comfort to me.
In the chapter about giving yourself permission to play, I love what Rebekah says about how making time for play can produce joy and freedom:
Play and control cannot coexist. Afraid of taking a risk, of losing control, I often miss opportunities for play, which is a shame because it’s play that breaks us out of our stressful routines and rejuvenates us. It’s play that so often restores our freedom and joy.”
For someone who loves control, allowing play can be a hard thing. But I love the idea that play has so much to teach us if we’ll only let it. As Rebekah says, “We can allow play to show us that everything won’t fall apart when we let go and give ourselves a little space and freedom.”
Moving on to the third section of the book, I loved the rhythm of having an open-porch policy. Rebekah describes how their porch became a place where they welcomed others in—really embodying the rhythm of hospitality. In recent years, I’ve noticed myself hesitant to invite others to my home because it’s not “just so,” so I’ve challenged myself to let go of the need for perfection and simply invite others into my real life. Rebekah sums this up so well by saying:
Hospitality doesn’t require an elaborate meal with your best china or making sure every nook and cranny is clean. People crave connection and love to gather, even if the house isn’t perfectly put together. Creating a sustainable culture of hospitality requires casual frequency, getting together often, coming as you are, hosting as you are. Embracing connection over perfection lifts my spirits and encourages the hearts of my friends.”
The last rhythm I’ll mention is making memories, which comes in the final section of the book. Rebekah points out that memories aren’t made from our to-do lists—an important point to make in a world where our to-do lists often rule our days. I found myself challenged by the idea that I need to create space for things that will make memories. It’s far too easy for the to-do list items to take up all our space. As Rebekah says, “When we break out of the cycle of drudgery and focus on creating memories with those around us, we start to find the wonder in life.”
As a whole, this book pushed me to think differently about what habits can affect my spiritual wellbeing. I’m excited to focus on a few of these rhythms in the days ahead and grow closer to the Lord in the process. If you’re someone who wants be more intentional with your time and growth, grab a copy of this book! And, if you’ve already read Rhythms of Renewal, I’d love to hear which rhythms stood out to you most in the comments below!
Jessica Yentzer is a marketing strategist on LifeWay’s Adult Ministry team. Well-written memoirs, dark chocolate, a good running trail, and the perfect fall day are just a few of the things that put a smile on her face. When she’s not crafting marketing strategy, she loves hiking and exploring the outdoors with her husband, Grant.