My mind raced excitedly. Thoughts pounded one way and then the next. New ideas rolled in like fog settling around a mountain village, so thick my chest reverberated the pressure. I flew through the motions, one thing and then another. Momentum pushed me along faster and faster until I found myself tumbling head over heels into an unforeseen chasm of apprehension. What do I do now? My head surrounded me with its screams. Can you really do this? When are you going to find the time? Who would listen to you? Why should they listen to you? You’re a nobody! See, you’ve overdone it again! You’re not ready for this! Your ideas are petti and worthless! Go hide and never show your face again. You’d be better off alone and away from the world! What can you offer that hasn’t already been done? You’re not as good as others. You don’t even come close to measuring up! Tears slipped through the corners of my eyes sliding down my burning face. Darkness raged up around me pulling and tugging at all sides begging me into its cold embrace. NO! I bellowed. I am not going down that road again! But with each step, the draw of the darkness became stronger and stronger waiting in desperation to swallow me whole.
Have you been there with me?
Those times when you wonder if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.
When you feel defeated and worthless and wonder what's the point.
When the critical voice within you threatens to defeat anything and everything good you may possibly do. When you let worry and anxiety sneak in and steal the joy right out from under you.
I struggle with this frequently!!
Here is what I think God’s been telling me about it lately.
Random proverbs have been plucking away in the background of my mind lately:
“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.”
“A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps.”
“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.”
“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”
Fools rush into things without thinking and suffer for it.
I, regretfully, play the part of the fool more often than I would like to admit. I am genuinely good at coming up with ideas. In fact, many times they are unquestionably good ideas. However, one of my weaknesses is slowing down enough to thoroughly think through all the different angles before bounding in and doing it. I’m the type of person who gets an idea and jumps in headfirst without spending a ton of time mulling it over and getting all my ducks in a row before proceeding to the next step. I would rather gather my ducks on the run, going for it while the excitement is building and dealing with all the problems as they come up, than wait until the idea has dissipated and having to regain the excitement for doing it.
If you’re like me, it’s hard to genuinely slow down and think everything through. Even when I try, sometimes it resembles more of how a toddler might say they’re done eating. You know what I mean, right?
“Sweetie, you need to eat all your food, before you can have dessert.”
“O.k. mom.” One bite later. “Did it mom!”
You look at their plate and raise an eyebrow, “No, you need to eat ALL of your food until it’s gone, not just one bite.”
So how do you force yourself to thoroughly SLOW DOWN?
Here’s some ways that have helped me:
Make a list of reasons and motivations: Why do you want to do this? What are you wanting to accomplish?
Without a doubt, this is the first step to get me to stop and "give thought to my way". Half the time it’s a fleeting concept that I know is good, but I haven’t actually nailed down. When I do take the time to cement the concept into words it becomes an anchor I can cling to and revisit when things get tough. It also helps me focus more on the time frame of when it should happen and who I am doing it for. Is it for myself, my children, my husband or to encourage others? This gives me more of a direction of how I proceed.
Pray about it! Truly slow down and take it before the Father.
Prayer has a way of aligning our thoughts with His. I can get so caught up in the excitement of something that I may still be praying about it, but I’m not slowing down to genuinely hear anything except what I want to hear. So apply the next part and wait. (This is BY FAR the hardest thing for me to do!) It may take a night, other times it may take a couple weeks or in one of my cases three years and counting. Sometimes, even when it's difficult to hear, the answer may be no, and that’s when it's extremely important to remember that God’s ways are best.
Seek godly advice and council.
If it is something important and life changing, bring it up to a couple of trustworthy friends and ask them to come alongside you in prayer. Listen to the advice they give and truly try and understand their point of view.
Finally, don’t get discouraged.
It’s easy, in our media connected world, to look around and see somebody who has already achieved what we are attempting and are possibly executing it way better. This is one thing I often have to remind myself of, especially with blogging, even if someone else is doing or has done what I am wanting to do, that shouldn’t hinder me from pursuing my dreams as well. There is only one me and these are the lessons I am learning, in a way that only I can. God has put different people in my life for a reason and even though I may see a whole vast world of other bloggers, maybe someone I am connected with only sees me and can be encouraged and grow because of something I have written. At the very least, this is how I learn best and that in and of itself is worth it.
Slowing down is important because it helps us see some of the lies we may have started believing and puts our focus back where it needs to be, back to the truth. Will you join me today by slowing down and remembering our purpose?
I want to lift my dear sisters up to you. If they are going through a rough season and struggling with discouragement and feeling overwhelmed by everything surrounding them, I pray you will surround them with your Truth. Help them slow down and know your love to a depth they have never known it before. Give them direction in what You want them to be doing. Give them wisdom and discernment with how they spend their time and who they may reach out to for encouragement and to encourage. Fill them with Your truth! Thank you for your strength and unending love for us. May we not follow our flesh and the lies thrown at us, but stand strong in who You are and who You say we are! Chosen, forgiven and unconditionally loved through Jesus!
-In Jesus’ name,
The sound of rain pitter patters into my ears turning into drums. I start dancing. Twirling around in the fields, in and out of a mystical world. Confusion burns in my mind as I try and recall what is going on around me.
My head pops up off my pillow, realizing it’s just my alarm clock. Instinctively, I swat at my phone, trying to turn it off. Squinting at the numbers, 5:00 beams back at me. I roll back over and gaze up at the black fuzzy outline of the ceiling. I’m so tired, I just want to lay here, I think. Then my voice of reason takes over, if you don’t get up now, it’s just going to make the day way more frustrating. You’ll be playing catch up all day and battling with the kids when they wake up early. You can do this, get up! I throw my legs out of bed, knowing the rest of me will catch up soon. Quietly, I put on my glasses, grab my water and phone from the side of the bed, pull on my robe and make my way to my chair in the dining room. Setting my water down next to the chair, I go turn on the stove light. Blinded, by the instant flood of light, I stagger my way back to my chair. With just enough light to read from, I get comfy in my chair and pull my Bible and journal onto my lap. Opening up my Bible to where I left off the day before, I begin reading.
Spending quality quite time in God’s Word can be challenging, no matter what season of life we are in. Important things always seem to take precedence and there never seems to be enough time in the day. Sometimes the “if only's” sneak in and paralyze the attempt. If only my kids would be quite…. If only I could wake up earlier…. If only I wasn’t so tired. If only I knew where to start….If only_____...you fill in the blank.”
I think, if we’re all honest, we will admit that we would like to have a quiet time in God’s Word and prayer. We know it’s a good thing to do and that we should do it, but it doesn’t actually fall into a super important, need to do this, category.
So today, let me share with you my experience.
I first started journaling and having my own quiet times in 2004, so around 13 years now. I was a seventh grader when I first started journaling. I had just got done reading 'Clotee and Patsy’s Diaries, A Picture of Freedom' and 'I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly'. In the book, Clotee made her own diary and I, thinking that was the coolest idea ever, decided I wanted to make my own diary too. So I did. I cut out a bunch of paper and glued it all together, with a fun piece of silver metallic paper as the cover. I labeled it, 'The Heart of Emotion'. Which, for a 13 year old girl, was quite fitting, as it started out all about my boy drama, or as my husband likes to tease, my “I love every boy” stage.
Now, you may be thinking, so what does this have to do with having a devotional, quiet time? Well, I bring all that up to say that’s what started me on the journey of a quiet time. For, that diary, started turning into more of a prayer journal about two months into writing in it. I didn’t write in it every day, in fact sometimes there’s a whole month missing from one entry to the next. Fast forward a couple years and I started getting more in depth and forming my own quiet time routine. I was doing a bible study in the morning and would journal in my prayer journal at night. I still was not super consistent and felt like every time I missed a day I had to make up for it double the next day. This, as you can imagine, was a huge burn out for me. After skipping a couple days, I felt like it was an enormous amount to read the next day, so I would skip it altogether.
Around this time, a friend and I decided that we both wanted to start reading our Bible more. So, we decided to become accountability partners. We would text each other in the morning or by the end of the day asking if we had done our reading. Truthfully, I think this only lasted maybe a week or two, but for me it was just the push I needed to start a routine and get some more consistency. From there, it has transformed deeper and deeper into my own unique time with my Heavenly Father. There has been some seasons when it has been more difficult to stay consistent than others. For example, right after giving birth when I have a newborn in the house, but it has always been so worth it!
Today, what it looks like, is more of the S.O.A.P method, or for me, the S.O.A.T.R.A.P. (If you would like a filled out version of what S.O.A.T.R.A.P. looks like and how to do it, sign up for my newsletter and I will send you a free pdf version, small enough you can cut out and stick in your Bible).
Speaking from my own experience, the best advice I would offer in trying to start one's own quite time is this:
1. Examine your motivation
It comes back to the heart. Why are you wanting to read your Bible? Is it because you feel all this pressure from other Christians or is it because you really want to learn and grow and have a good foundation in God’s Word and deepen your relationship with Him.
Why do I get up and read the Bible every morning, even when I’m tired and want that extra hour of sleep? Because I want to spend time with God. He is that important! I want answers to my questions and to grow so deeply in Him that others can actively see Him through my life. I need that gentle strength that comes from spending time each morning in the quiet stillness that surrounds me before anyone else is up, remembering what it really is to be alive. To have peace, seep deep, within my soul. To ponder the words in what I am reading that day, letting their truth start to take root within my mind. I will be brutally honest, not every morning is this earth shattering ‘ah-ha’ moment or even a peace filled wonder time, but the days that are like that make me long to keep going back and most days it is, at the very least, a refreshing start to my day.
2. Get an accountability partner or an encouragement sister
This can be a blessing in so many ways! Sure, it may be nerve wracking asking someone. It may even be hard to share a part of your heart with them, or humiliating that you don’t have it all together (such a lie that we think we should, but that’s for another blog). But, it also has a way of developing some deep friendships that tend to last a long time, if not a lifetime, and in encouraging you to be the best that you can be. So, be wise and pray about who you should ask, and make sure that they can be a safe-person for you, but also don’t let fear keep you from being bold and stepping out of your comfort zone, either.
3. Start a journal
This can be whatever you want it to be! You don’t even HAVE to have one. I, on the other hand, absolutely love mine. The thing I love most about it; I can change it up, add in my own little art work, keep it short, make it long--it’s my own little creative outlet in my own faith journey. It also, is fun being able to look back and see how much I have learned and some of the different life events/lessons I have went through.
4. Take small doable steps
How often do we have these ideals or dreams of what we would like, or think, our quite times should look like, but we psych ourselves out. We get discouraged easily when it doesn’t happen the way we think it should or it seems so unachievable that we don’t even attempt it. Instead, think if one small step you KNOW you can do. It could be waking up 5 minutes earlier and reading one verse for the day. Or maybe it’s thinking and praying about who you could ask to help encourage you. Whatever it may be, start small and start adding up from there. I didn’t get to where I am today in just one day, but from taking one day at a time.
5. Don’t Compare
As women, especially, we compare everything, it seems like. Comparison can easily suck the joy right out of something, and that is especially true about your quite times. This is suppose to be the time between you and your Creator--your Heavenly Father. That means, it may look completely different than somebody else and that is totally okay! It may be taking a walk while you pray or memorizing verses. It may be reading a few verses in your car and staring out the window while you ponder them.
I love hearing about how other people do their quite times, because it helps give me ideas of what I might do differently or implement to help where I am at, but it should never cross into the realm of feeling like I’m doing something wrong, because I don’t do it like so-and-so. Even the different ideas I’m sharing, should never be something that you think you have to do. My hope is, they may inspire you, encourage you or even offer up an idea you may not have thought of before. All to help strengthen your own walk.
So keep the joy alive and don’t get caught in the comparison trap.
6. Don’t give up!
When you skip a day, don’t feel discouraged and like a failure, just try again the next day. Pretty soon, if you keep trying, you’ll find you start to become more and more consistent and it will become almost second nature to you. It took me years to really get consistent, but it was so worth it!
So now it’s your turn. How do your quite times look? Was there something that stood out to you that you would like to implement? Let me know in the comments below.
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If you want to follow along with what I’m reading in my quiet times, be sure to follow me on Instagram. I post a verse or two that stands out to me, almost daily.
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Melody, a proud mother of three beautiful, adventurous children and the wife of one very loving and caring husband. Molded, daily, by the Maker of the Universe and longing to become more like Him.