My Christian books and devotionals kept me from growing closer to Jesus

 

 

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Sometimes I wonder what I would do without my planner and to-do lists. They keep me on track and remind me of the many responsibilities I am tasked with. For those that know me, know how important my relationship with Christ is. I’m always looking for new ways I can grow closer to Him and strengthen my relationship with Him. But I think I hit the point where I let my good intentions weaken rather than strengthen our relationship. I looked at my to-do list and felt so overwhelmed. Overwhelmed to the point where in fear of not being able to complete something fully, perfectly, I just chose not to do anything. Here is what my list looked like:

  • Finish reading the book of Isaiah
  • Finish reading The Lipstick Gospel
  • Do my Soul Script sessions
  • Finish my Lent Study from She Reads Truth
  • Finish Risen Christ Study from She Reads Truth
  • Journal
  • Listen to sermons

On top of that this was my list to start:

  • IF Gathering- Knowing Jesus
  • Write the Word
  • Wholeheartedly
  • Girl Defined
  • Redeeming Love and Hosea study

Studies on the way:

  •  IF Gathering- Redeemed

And my list to buy:

  • The Devo Company devotional
  • Rose and Thorns
  • Cultivate What Matters
  • She Reads Truth Bible
  • Seamless
  • An Unexplainable Life

Whoa. Are you exhausted yet? Because I am! When did my relationship with Christ become just a thing to check off of my to do list? I know it’s important to be intentional and make sure Christ stays number one in my life but do I really need to be reminded?

Finish, finish, finish. Do, do, do. When did those words replace my vocabulary of love, enjoy, renew? How would you feel if your significant other, an important relationship in your life, had to pencil you in? I’d feel like a burden and the last thing I would want God to feel like is some burden in my life. God is my life. It’s important to not let our quiet times with the Lord slip through the cracks with the worries and stresses of the day. But let’s not be so hard on ourselves that we forget to enjoy our one true love.

This past weekend I just wanted to enjoy Jesus. Spend time with Him. Love Him. Not something to check off my list because I’m some good Christian. But something to renew my faith, ignite my hope, and remind me of who I really am- daughter of the King, loved beyond comprehension, and blessed beyond measure.

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The familiarity of your flaws

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I wanted to go back to you. Even though I knew you weren’t good for me, I had convinced myself that something was better than nothing. That dysfunctional love, which in reality was hate, was somehow better than being alone.

Another break-up and I’m left comparing. Left alone. Left to wonder.

Your flaws, I started to excuse them. Was I asking too much? Was I being too picky? Maybe you weren’t that controlling, I did enjoy flirting. Maybe your anger was justified, because I did mess up at times. Maybe you weren’t that negative, you were under a lot of pressure at work. Maybe you really did love me, even though I knew you didn’t.

A lot of maybes in a world of uncertainty. A lot of excuses because I craved any hint of love.

For some reason I’ve always remembered the good times, the bad times seem to have been erased from my memory. My journal reminds me of the pain when my mind seeks to deceive me. It’s not in an effort to hold onto bitterness but rather to live in reality.

But ‘what ifs’ come flooding in. What if we were at a different place in life? What if our parents hadn’t been so involved? What if we hadn’t rushed everything? What ifs can send us down an alternate reality that steals the blessings God has placed right in front of us. What ifs symbolize things that didn’t happen. Things we perhaps wish would have. Things we think would have made everything better.

But these didn’t happen moments are what brought us to where we are today. Thankfully, my desire to go back to you was met with my desire to believe I deserved something more. My desire to trust God more than myself. To trust He had something better than my limited view could see.

The familiarity of your flaws led me to believe I was somehow safe. But the truth is, I never felt safe with you. What is safe about the predictability of unpredictability? And while it’s sometimes scary in a world of unknown flaws, I am left with one thing I never had with you- hope.

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I gave up dating, I did not give up talking to guys

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As I mentioned in my previous post one of the things I decided to give up for lent was dating. I knew this was going to be a challenge for me but I also knew it was something I needed to do. Up until this time, I wasn’t technically dating anyone but my mind was constantly consumed with one guy who would feed my ego to the next. I imagine my heart with several holes in it and the words of some guy as a thin liquid being poured in. Clearly, these words run right through me and don’t make my heart full. But I suppose if I have enough guys lined up and their words are consistent, and perhaps even overlap with the compliments of another, then maybe just maybe I will feel complete. It’s really sad but I don’t think I’m the only one that buys into this silliness. We all are looking for love really. Watch anyone for a given amount of time and you’ll notice. Love is what makes us alive. We all are inclined to do what I do but your liquid may just be something other than the fleeting words of a guy- money, fame, success, you name it. I may not understand much about it but one thing I do know is that it all eventually leaks out and you are left with an empty heart. Unless, of course, your heart is already full of something of a greater consistency- a thicker substance. Of something that actually stays. Of something that actually lasts. And that’s Jesus and that’s what I’ve been focusing on these past 26 days. Focusing on what will truly complete me instead of focusing on the cheap imitations.

These past few weeks have been interesting as I’ve tracked my thoughts and feelings. I am a firm believer in us doing our absolute best as that’s an indication of how much we desire God to change us. One of my favorite quotes from Joyce Meyer says “God wants you to do what you can so He can do what you cannot.” To me, it has always be a sign of how bad we really want something, how bad we want to change. This lent study has truly been me doing what I can and God has definitely done what I cannot. He has changed my heart and those are the times I treasure the most.

Here are just a few of the ways I have benefited from this time so far:

  • I have fallen more in love with Him and have a greater understanding and appreciation for how much He truly loves me
  • I have felt more complete in Christ as my faith and trust has grown tremendously
  • So many times we wonder what we should do but as I’ve gotten closer to Christ, He has illuminated my path and my peace has increased
  • I tracked how I defaulted back to old guy friends for love; though this wasn’t necessarily the healthiest thing to do in my opinion, it did give me the strength to not turn to new potential dates
  • Furthermore, I realized how important a father’s role really is; when a girl has a dad (or I do believe it could be another male figure) who continually tells her how loved and valuable she is, she has the strength to never settle for less than God’s best; she knows her worth
  • I was able to get over and lose feelings for someone I still liked at the time because he was feeding my ego
  • I have met some really awesome women and have been able to invest more in those friendships
  • I have spent more time with my family which has been a huge blessing
  • Ironically enough, I have a better understanding of what I am looking for in a potential spouse
  • My guy friendships have strengthened

I want to talk about the last one now. I think people assumed when I said I was giving up dating it meant I was giving up talking to guys. It was funny to watch as my friends would yell at me if I even dared to mention a guy. But I didn’t give up talking to guys. And I’m so glad I didn’t. For me, it has been my mind and thought process that has changed. Whenever I talk and engage with a guy, instead of viewing him as a potential spouse I’ve looked at him differently. I have looked at these guys as brothers, as friends, as someone I could potentially be a blessing to. I didn’t realize it at the time but I’ve moved from a “me” centered attitude to an “others” centered mindset. And it has been incredible. I already feel less needy, less dependent, and most importantly- more like myself. I love it. There is something so wonderful about living for something greater than yourself. I feel happier. I feel freer. I feel more loved than I have ever been. Nothing is as radiant as the smile of a girl who knows how loved she is. ♥

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