This Sunday we will pray for Restoration students, teachers, and school administrators entering a new school year. Usually at least half of our congregation is making this meaningful transition from slow summer days back to a regular school schedule. My husband is a high school teacher, my son is starting kindergarten on Monday, and my toddler begins Mother’s Day Out in a few weeks. I’ve been coping with all this change mostly through online shopping. Daily a delivery person brings some new essential item that I can’t send them to school without.
And still I know that even a perfectly stocked backpack does not make our family ready for the school year. Times of transition in our lives are always opportunities to grow spiritually. Even if you no longer get summers off or shop for #2 pencils, you still need to take a moment every now and then to acknowledge times of transition and assess where you are and how the Holy Spirit my be leading you into new habits for a new season.
Here’s my back-to-school (and other times of transition) checklist for your heart:
Celebrate where you see God currently work in your life. What prayers have been answered? How has he been faithful to you? Offer praise and thank God for being with you in this new season too.
Assess your current spiritual life. What is your inner life like? Is God welcome to work in you? What spiritual practices could help you faithfully respond to the way the Holy Spirit forming you? If you are a parent, ask what daily practices can help you nurture age-appropriate spiritual growth in your whole family.
Make a new schedule. Take advantage of a season of change to make the things that are important to you a priority in your daily and weekly schedule. When will you pray or read the Bible? When will you make space to be with family without distractions? When will you cultivate spiritual friendships? When will you rest?
Think about your relationships. Are there friends with whom you have lost touch? Family members who would love to hear from you? Acquaintances who could use someone to reach out and include them. Take the first step and let others know that they matter to you.
Stretch yourself to be more generous with all God has given you. How can you make your home more hospitable? Where can you make more margin in your calendar so that you are available to others? How can you give more to support ministries and causes that are meaningful to you?
Consider your health as a whole person. How’s your body, mind, and spirit? Is there a nagging pain in your body that needs medical attention? Or crippling emotions that need to be worked through with a counsellor? Or a deep sense of shame that keeps you from coming to God in prayer and worship that needs to be addressed with a priest? Plan to get the care you need: whether its an aching knee, unhealthy thoughts, or a dead spiritual life.
Ask what is your mission in the world—and actually try to answer it. Understanding your God-given purpose frees you to follow him wholeheartedly and say no to distractions. You could even start with Restoration’s mission Joining God in the restoration of all things and see how applying it to yourself opens your eyes to his invitation to partner with him in redeeming and remaking our lives, church, and city.