Stuck in a Rut?
Written by Erin Tootle
When routines become boring, repetitive ruts, what can we do? Especially if the ruts affect our relationship with God?
Have you ever been stuck in a rut? You know, when you realize that you’ve been doing the same thing day after day, week after week, for you don’t know how many months? You’ve been eating basically the same meals, having the same conversations with the same people, performing the same tasks day in and day out, and life has become one boring, repetitive, stressful routine.
I had this realization this past winter. I felt that all I was doing was working during the week, preparing for the Sabbath, resting on the Sabbath, preparing for the week, and doing it all over again. Even praying and keeping the Sabbath—two of the greatest blessings God gives—had become routine and somewhat boring.
Routines are important. They keep us on track in life, help us achieve goals and give us structure. God gives us the routine of the weekly Sabbath and His festivals to help us stay focused on Him and His plan for us. God also gives us variety. Look around at His creation or the change of the seasons. While God doesn’t change who He is (Hebrews 13:8; Malachi 3:6), He certainly isn’t boring either.
Realizing I was stuck in a rut scared me a little, primarily because I saw that I was not only in a rut with my physical life and my physical relationships, but also in my relationship with God. So, what was I to do?
Ideas for getting out of a rut
Getting out of a rut is much easier said than done, but below are a few of the ways I have been working to get out of my rut. I don’t claim to have fully gotten out or stayed out, so I write this in part for myself, but I hope it proves helpful to others as well and gets us all thinking about ways to keep both our spiritual and physical lives active and fulfilling.
1. Fast and pray and ask God for help. Our Father desires an active, interesting relationship with us even more than we desire that relationship with Him. He is eager to help, but He wants us to ask.
2. Try something new. Make a conscious change to an area of life that has become too routine.
- Cook a new type of food. (My husband and I made Indian food for dinner and stuffed French toast for Sabbath brunch.)
- Go outside. Go for a walk, rent a bike or a canoe for an afternoon, explore a new part of town.
- Plant a garden.
- Read a book.
- Take a class.
3. Focus on the needs of others.
- Pray for other people. Learn about the challenges others are facing and pray for them specifically. This not only helps the people we pray for, but it also helps us have a more active relationship with God.
- Take a meal to a family with a new baby or someone who is grieving a death.
- Write a card for someone who is sick or in need of encouragement.
- Seek out someone you don’t normally talk to at church and get to know him or her.
- Look for opportunities to do unexpected acts of kindness. Even a smile and a thank you for a grocery store clerk can brighten both the clerk’s day and yours.
4. Pay attention to and thank God for the small miracles and the joy in your day-to-day life. Consider writing down the answered prayers and blessings you receive.
5. Find someone to help you stay accountable for Bible study. You might ask your pastor about starting a weeknight Bible study or work through a “read the Bible in a year” program with a friend. Find a way to keep your Bible study interesting and to make it a positive routine.
Constant contact for an abundant life
Christ said that He came that we might have life and that we might have life more abundantly (John 10:10). Living the abundant life God intends us to live requires constant contact with Him and dedicated effort on our part. Life will only become busier and more overwhelming as time goes on, and we need God and one another if are to stay on track and not get stuck in a rut.
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Erin Tootle and her husband, Taylor, are members of the Cincinnati/Dayton, Ohio, congregation of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.