We had a great summer break this year. Dad and Mom Reutter came from America to spend time together with us. We did a lot of fun things as a family, many of which we put on our YouTube channel “Life in Japan.” These videos have taken off like no other videos before them, racking up tens of thousands of views within days of posting! We have been amazed to see the response, especially here in Japan, because over 90% of our views come from Japan. My mother-in-law is big on sharing our family time with other people and recently asked us if we had been doing that. I laughed as I thought to myself, “More than ever!”
When your kids are in school most of the year, and you live a half a world away from your parents, you want to make the most of your holidays. Our summer break this year felt like squeezing a year’s worth of memories into a one-month period! Day trips to the beach, outings to the zoo, shopping in the city and escapes from the city to be in nature. All of these things are fun, and make for good memories to share with the world through the social media and YouTube. It’s what everyone does, right? We share the highlights with the world and keep the outtakes to ourselves.
But these moments seem to come in one door and immediately head out another. The Japanese talk about the transient beauty of the Sakura blossom. It is only in bloom for a moment, and then quickly blows away. The moment is breathtaking, but then soon gone. Trips are great — but when they’re over you’re left with the bill to pay and work to do. Those who enjoy drinking do so for a night, but pay for it the next day in hangovers, nausea and lost time and energy. Those who escape through gambling enjoy the rush of the game for a moment, but endure the pain of the loss from then on. Why do we sabotage ourselves in living for a moment in time, when we could be living for something that really, truly improves our life in all of the normal moments?
I am super thankful for the time I had with family this summer. We worked hard to make this happen — and it was totally worth it. These times together are important. But as summer break comes to an end, I am more thankful than ever for the under-valued hero of everyday life: good routine. Every parent who has kids at home is glad for the return of school and routine!
Healthy routines encourage growth and expand potential. The practice of healthy routines build habits that in turn become character. Character can be defined as our default state that requires no additional energy to perform. A person with a character of honesty exerts no additional will-power to be honest, just as a person with a deceptive character exerts no additional will-power to lie, but finds it a huge feat to be honest. A person whose character is ever expanding and deepening is like a garden full of all kinds of fruits and vegetables. There’s always something ripe and ready to enjoy! When we sow good character over time, we reap a good destiny.
Moments are fleeting — a welcome break from the normal. But as our normal is shaped and formed into a life-giving destiny, then we begin to live the good life. Moments are no longer what we live for. We live for building something of worth in our day-to-day lives. Ironically, once we do that, we find our lives filled with meaningful moments that, as soon as one happens, another one is on the way. It is not a fatalistic world-view, but a hope-filled one. Our life is not about a couple fleeting moments, but about building the destiny for which God made us. Building that destiny is the beauty of everyday life and routine, and it’s God’s great joy to guide us along that journey. Here’s to the unsung hero of everyday life: good routine!