A Rule for Embracing, Resisting, and Attending

the common ruleMy first week of spring break is quietly and quickly coming to an end.  And while I haven’t gotten as much done as I’d hoped, I have been able to do some quality reading.  This afternoon, I finished Justin Whitmel Earley’s The Common Rule.  And while I hope to write more about it later, there was one thing that I wanted to get down before the week comes to an end.

I really like the way that Earley frames the content of his book (and let’s face it, books about habits are easily found these days).  Part of that framing comes with the concepts of embracing and resisting.  We embrace the good things that God has done through some habits; we resist the bad things that exist as a result of the sin through others.  Today I read through the four weekly habits: conversing, curating media, fasting, and resting.

About halfway through the chapter on fasting, Earley asserts that

Fasting is to let your desires hang out in the open, where you can observe them.

This is, of course, a kind of attending.  And while “observing your desires as they hang out” is particularly true of fasting, it can come with any self-imposed limitation on things (which really brings the remainder of the book into the conversation).

Over the last year and a half, I’ve tried to do a better job of attending to my reactions to things.  Most of the time, I feel like I’ve done a sorry job at it, but on my best days (and hopefully a few of my worst), I’ve tried to be aware of what brings out the anger and the frustration (both with  myself and with others).  I haven’t gotten to the place where I’ve sat down to deeply reflect on my findings.  And I haven’t gotten to the place where I can respond and pivot quickly when I find myself in a tense moment.  But this book has been a good reminder of that.  And it’s a good reminder to think well about what needs nurture and what needs pruning in our lives.

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