The last time I lived at home with my parents I was 18 years old. I remember laying in my dorm room my first night of college, with a roommate I didn’t know, in a state I’d never lived in, at a school where I knew no one, 11 hours from home. I quickly became aware of the lack of familiar comforts I had with me. And it was in this complete stripping of all my comfort and usual norms that I began finding myself and how to live in a new daily rhythm with God. A fresh start opened before me, where I could shed all the unhealthy habits, dependencies and idols (however “good” they were) from my life. All I had to do was take the opportunity that was in front of me.
My time on The Experience proved similar in how it stripped me of the comforts I’d been clinging to, and allowed me to step back and see what my priorities in life had become. Our Experience students arrived at Forge Basecamp, and have begun processing their first week of what we call “drinking from a fire hose” with all the info they’re taking in. They are away from home—many far from home. This first stage invites them to detach from the places they’ve continually gone to for comfort, from the technology that allows them to distract from hard things, and all that’s familiar.
What I love about watching this uncomfortable transition unfold, is how our dependencies show up front and center. And often—at least for me—I’ve found that God is not always on the list of what I depend on. I seek friends’ advice, rather than going to Jesus and asking what His heart is for me and my situation. I spend time working and overworking in order to prove myself, instead of finding my worth in who God says I am. I plan my future goals based on where I think I should be, rather than where God is leading me to better shape me into the woman He wants me to become.
That’s the thing with routines. They can be good and healthy, but when they’re not, they are hard to break out of.
So just like I did as a student six years ago, the current Experience team is engaging in the reworking of routine. This summer the students laid aside their cell phones. The act of putting them in a box is easy, but realizing how often they represent a source of comfort or affirmation for us is convicting. How many likes did I get today? What are my friends up to? What am I missing out on? While these questions swirl, questions of God’s heart for us can fall to the wayside.
This summer the students also set aside their own timelines and expectations. They won’t know their schedule more than one day in advance. All the hopes for a strategic and planned out idea of how to grow closer to God are off the table. Sometimes we question if God will really show up in our unplanned uncertainties. But the reality is, God doesn’t need our forced efforts or scheduling in order to draw close to us. He’s here. He is seeking our hearts.
Also, this summer the students engage in trusting a new community. They will depend on people they don’t know, because of the calling of God each of them felt to be here. For 58 days they will be without familiar faces and support systems, leaning on community, but more importantly relearning to lean on Jesus first.
The students will learn a lot this summer. But as one of our Forge Speakers said the other night, it all starts with the willingness to get on the road, and take a step. Breaking routine and taking the step out into the unknown proves difficult, but willingness to do so can help develop new, healthier rhythms of walking with God that bless, build relationship and grow our faith.
What does breaking routine and building new rhythms look like for you? Ask Jesus what’s on His heart for you.
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