So, I’m going to tell you right from the start that I DO NOT feel comfortable with or qualified to write about how you, myself, or anyone else can become more spiritually mature. I don’t have a theology degree (actually, I do have a minor in theology...but that was a mandatory part of my schooling, and I don’t remember a lot of it already, even though it was only like two years ago that I graduated. Weak, I know) and I struggle to make spirituality a regular practice (I say “regular” because I know how vague that really is). Being spiritually engaged on any regular basis is, for some reason, HARD. Can I get an amen?
However, I want to share with you all a little bit about what I’ve been experiencing and learning lately, as well as some things I’m trying that so far have allowed me to have more consistency in my relationship with God.
I also want to tell you that some of what I have to share might seem a little, shall we say, “out there.” I understand that you might be skeptical about some of my experiences, or that you might think there’s no way they are true or real. And that’s fine. I don’t ask you to believe the same things that I do. Just know that it is my story, whether you or I like it or not.
For starters, in the spring of my junior year of college, God made a promise to me. He very audibly told me that he was going to transform me into someone I had never been before. It wasn’t a general promise, but rather one that would include changes in my personality, my comfort zone, my relationships, and my character. He made it clear that he was going to make me a leader. HA! Yeah, right…
Well, guess what. It’s a promise that he has, without fail, continued to fulfill since then. And I am certain that he isn’t done with it.
THIS woman, well, she needs a lot of work. I don’t want to go into lengthy details here, but if you ever want to get coffee to talk more about the ways that he has been fulfilling that promise, I’m always game.
I strongly believe that the promise he made me has been incredibly influential in my ability to live apart from my family. Which, maybe ironically, has been -- and maybe still is -- my biggest disagreement with God. It’s brought me community, friendship, and confidence. He’s given me so much, when I really haven’t given him much in return. I struggle with feeling badly about that, but I find comfort in the fact that his love isn’t conditional.
That being said, from what I’ve seen in my life, the times when I’m diligent in aligning myself with him are the times that things start to happen. It’s like a really strong river current. If I’m swimming against the current, I’m still going to move backward, but not as quickly. Whereas, if I just relax and let the river take me, I make some serious ground down the river. God’s going to move, whether I want him to or not. But if I can be open and willing to go with him, time and effort are not wasted.
So, the beginning of this year has me there. Ready to just relax and let the Lord take me down the river (that actually sounds like I’m saying that I’m ready to die….not what I’m talking about). Anyway, with the start of a new business opportunity, I’ve found myself in a place that is TOTALLY outside of my comfort zone, not fitting for my personality, pushing me to take the initiative in forming relationships, and challenging to my character. It’s an introvert’s nightmare. It also sounds a lot like an area in which God is going to continue to fulfill that little promise that I mentioned above. Of this I have no doubt.
Two days into this new business, I was feeling utterly discouraged. I didn’t know why I was doing it, and I honestly wanted to just throw in the towel before I got myself “in too deep.” And then, God did it again. HE TOLD ME why I was doing the business. HE TOLD ME what it was going to do for my future. And HE TOLD ME that all I needed to do was be obedient. It was overwhelmingly exciting. He confirmed a lot of my passions and desires, and showed me how those would become a reality one day.
But obedience. That’s something that I struggle with more than I thought in the past. There are so many times when I feel the prompting to read my Bible, to take time to pray, or to simply just go talk to a particular person. And the other day, he hit me with a brick of conviction. If I’m not going to be obedient in the little things, why on earth would he trust me to be obedient in the big things--such as the success of my business or the development of a ranch one day. My obedience needs to start with the little things.
But how the heck do I make obedience a habit?! Well, not on my own, that’s for sure. Been there, tried that. So then, one word. Accountability.
I’ve been talking with my husband, as well as my sister about the areas that I specifically need to be more obedient in, so that they can check in with me and ask me how it’s going. For example, my husband knows that I need to be talking to more people in general. Because we kind of live life together, he will know whether or not I’m doing so. He can then hold me accountable. And my sister has me essentially leading a group on social media through the process of reading the Bible in a year. If that’s not accountability, I don’t know what it is! Bless her…
A second word. Reminders.
I have a bullet journal that my sister got me for Christmas. For awhile I had been writing daily task lists, which was extremely helpful in me getting through the things I needed and wanted to in a given day. Then it hit me. Nowhere on that list did I include setting aside time for God. It’s not like it was at the bottom of the list. It wasn’t even on the list. Not even a priority. Well, that has since changed. My list now includes “spending time with God.” It’s still not necessarily at the top of the list, but it’s there. Find ways that you can be reminded to engage spiritually in the ways you want for yourself. Write it down somewhere(s), set a reminder in your phone, make an alarm, or have a friend help you out. Figure out what plan works best for you!
I think that when it comes to finding consistency in our spiritual lives, one of the best resources we have is a community of accountability, whether small or large. We were created for relationship. With the Lord, but with others as well. If we want to succeed in resetting our spiritual lives, we need support and we need reminding.
That said, I also want to state that our spiritual engagement is NO ONE else’s responsibility but our own. It’s not your friend’s job to make sure that you are praying as often as you would like. YOU have to be proactive, YOU have to utilize the resources around you, and YOU have to make it a priority. And lastly, it’s not God’s fault when you find yourself struggling to stay consistent. God will continue to be faithful, but he doesn’t force you into faithfulness toward him. That is YOUR choice and your responsibility (I can almost feel the stampede of theological backlash I might get for some of these statements...Sorry if you think I’m way off base). And I can guarantee there will be reward and renewal.