This is my year of “explore”, and not just in the area of travel or creativity. This is my year to explore the areas of my life that have been untapped, dormant, or even creating new areas that have never existed. This is my year to explore body, mind, and spirit.
To this end, I’m exploring my relationship with God. I grew up in the church and God was always a fixture in my life. Sometimes in life I grew closer, other times I fell away. It was always an ebb and flow in regards to my consistency in my prayer life, devotional practice, church attendance, and “being good”.
But what I’ve found over the years is that the religion doesn’t matter, but the relationship does. So this year, I’m exploring that relationship with God and how to draw closer to Him so He will draw closer to me. (James 4:8)
I’m searching in 4 areas to connect with God the Father and work to ditch some old habits that hinder that closer relationship.
The first area that I’m tackling, is releasing the habit of overthinking. When I overthink, I’m worrying about things that are happening in the future. I’m worrying about things that are statistically around 80% unlikely to happen. I’m spending time in my head worrying about the future, versus living in my present. And when I do that, I take myself out of what I can enjoy and what I can control.
As our Father, God wants us to bring those worries to Him and lay them at His feet. He wants us to release the anxiety, and to come to Him in prayer and present them to Him. (Ph 4:6) Why? Because He doesn’t want us carrying around the stress and overwhelm. He wants to be our Good Father and take those burdens from us. He wants us to leave our cares with Him because He cares about us. (1 Peter 5:7) He wants us to trust Him, rely on Him and surrender all of those cares to Him.
So, through prayer, journaling, meditation, labyrinths, volunteering, breathwork, nature, and so much more, we can empty all of our worries and leave them aside. Then we have the opportunity to refill our cup with more clarity than confusion and problem-solving than pain.
Second, I’m working to leave behind negative self-talk. As much as I would LOVE to say that I’m truly leaving it behind for good, I know that’s not feasible. But, I can say that I’m going to begin to work towards that goal. Because through Christ I have true value, and I need to speak that over my life rather than speak harm and negativity and limiting beliefs over myself.
There is life and death in our words. (Proverbs 18:21) Whether we speak those words to ourselves or others, it doesn’t matter, we are speaking what is uplifting or what is defeating. So learning to speak kindly and positively to ourselves brings life, joy, happiness and truth. We were created “wonderfully”, we are “chosen”, we are “loved”, we are “blessed”, and we are “children of God”. And what Father wants to hear His children talk so negatively about themselves when He loves them so much?
To do this work, you first must be aware of those negative thoughts that are swirling through your head each day. Once you can isolate some of the biggest offenders, you can take ahold of those and rewrite them, shift them and make them more positive. You can use verses, quotes and affirmations to speak life over and into yourself.
Third, I need to stop people pleasing. Oh yeah, that’s right. I need to stop making decisions on OTHERS approval and start making decisions on GOD’S approval. Whose approval am I trying to win? And for what end? Who am I truly serving? (Galations 1:10)
God’s standard of approval is a high bar to meet. Luckily, it’s not by works that we are saved but by grace through faith. Whew! (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Nonetheless, we should be aiming to be in alignment with Him. And with all of His blessings over our lives, we should have our core values, our hearts and our minds working towards pleasing Him.
Lastly, I am looking to grow my friendships and relationships with people and community that encourage my faith and help me grow even closer to God. I’m called to be with believers, not to be unevenly yoked. (2 Corinthians 6:14)
Now I didn’t say “stop friendships”, rather pursue and encourage those friendships where I find commonality. I may have to distance myself from other friendships, or end others entirely. This isn’t out of self-righteousness, but out of an opportunity for personal growth.
Friends can make or break you. David had Jonathon. (1 Samuel 20:14-17) Naomi had Ruth. (Ruth 1:16) And Mary had Elizabeth. (Luke 1:39-56)
My goal this year to is create and bolster those friendships that bring higher level of uplifting and inspiration.
So if you’re on the same journey this year. A journey to explore and connect with God on a deeper more personal level, I invite you to join me. Maybe in 1 of these steps or all of them. These are mine and yours may be different. But I encourage you no matter what path you take to find one that leads to Him.
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