My good friend Emily writes: I love routine. I thrive off of it. Once COVID hit, all routine went out the window. My classes I did from bed. My work was moved online so I could do it whenever I wanted as long as I got all my projects completed on time. With not having a schedule for really anything, I stoped having a spiritual schedule as well. I didn’t create the time for God in my schedule. Things were happening in my life that sort of made me bitter towards God at times. I could recognize a difference from when I first got home from the mission and studied the scriptures every day to then (and honestly sometimes now) when I spent no time for or with God. When I was praying and studying the scriptures each day, I had such a positive outlook and attitude. When I wasn’t, I became increasingly bitter towards God for the littlest things. I recognized that, but that bitterness made me not really care that I was more bitter. A new semester rolled around and things in the world didn’t. Work got more busy and obviously school got more busy and I needed to thrive in both aspects… so I needed to create a new routine. After certain things happened in my life, I hesitantly added prayer and scripture study into my morning routine. At first, I didn’t recognize a huge difference, but after a couple weeks, I noticed that my days were better and I was more accountable to myself and to God. I stopped being really bitter towards God and gratitude flooded into my heart. Now, am I the best at keeping this routine? No. But I have recognized that my quiet time spent with God has a huge impact on my life. I realized that God wants to help me in my life, but I have to put forth that time to allow him to.
Tuning Out the Noise
My A&M Christian Fellowship homegroup was called BASIC. I can’t remember if the name meant Brothers And Sisters In Christ or Becoming A Soldier In Christ but either way works. We would meet up once a week and talk about how the week went and get spiritual advice or advice in general from other members of the group. Every week they would ask me how my quiet times with God had been. We were supposed to take a little time each day, maybe fifteen minutes or whatever we could spare, and read from the Bible and spend some time alone in the quiet with God. I loved that idea. The most quiet time I’d ever spent with God normally would have been when I thought a quick prayer right before I fell asleep. This would’ve been a good step in strengthening our relationship. It was cool to know that I could just be with the Creator of the universe. I could just talk to Him and tell Him what was on my heart and on my mind and He would be there listening and loving me. But every week I would lie and say my quiet times went great even though I never really had any. I could always find the time to watch Bear Grylls or play video games but for some reason I could never make time for God.
Once a year, every homegroup that made up AMCF would spend a weekend together camping and doing activities out in the woods. It was called the Spiritual Challenge Weekend or SCW for short. We would chill and bond and usually hung out around a campfire at night. It was a great time. And then in the day we’d have different spiritual workshops where we could learn and talk about our different struggles with life and faith. Each morning, there was a designated time for you to go off and be alone with God. The whole camp was supposed to be quiet. You could do anything you wanted as long as you were quiet. Some people meditated and prayed, some journaled, and some took a nap. My first morning there, I decided to journal. I felt like getting my thoughts down on paper would help me relay them to God better and maybe notice some things I hadn’t before.
Putting It All Out There
I started with the basics: school worries, money, a girl I had a crush on. This was about a year after I got that godawful GPA and letter from the school saying they were going to kick me out if I didn’t bring it up and I had brought it above a 2.0 but I wasn’t out of the woods yet. I was wanting to change majors and would need to get a GPA of 2.75 to do it. And I definitely couldn’t do that without God’s help. The money situation wasn’t too bad at this point. I watched a lot of Dave Ramsey videos in high school and tried to be as frugal as possible. But just knowing I was any amount in debt worried me. As for the girl I had a crush on, I’ll talk more about that in the next post. During the quiet time, I got this thought that I wrote down and it turned into a sort of poem. Looking back, it’s very melodramatic and I could spend a whole post roasting myself for it but you can read it here. Also during that quiet time, I saw a pure white deer run past me into the woods. I thought maybe it could be a sign but I didn’t know what the heck kind of sign it would’ve been. The guy who ran the camp said later on that there were a bunch of white deer running around and got irritated when anyone would call them albino. I’m not sure why.
As I mulled over the things on my heart and mind and wrote down all my thoughts, feelings, and hopes, I felt peace. I felt like God was telling me that I didn’t need to worry about these things. That they would all work out the way they needed to. And I trusted Him. I had never really felt that way before. It was such a deep, intense feeling that I couldn’t figure out if my body was being fueled with energy or shutting down. I told myself not to worry about the things that had been weighing me down as much as I had been and for a while, I didn’t. I told myself to have more quiet times with God so I could experience that peace and that calm again, but for some reason once I got back to campus, I didn’t. I just went back to doing the same things I had been doing. And that didn’t help me at all.
Back in the Real World
Every once in a while I would look back on my time at that camp and how I felt and wonder what was stopping me from having a quiet time and feeling that way again. I had plenty of free time, I didn’t have a job, and I was always hanging out with friends from either AMCF or Intervarsity so I should’ve had plenty of time to connect with God. Why wouldn’t I make the effort? Why was there always something “better” to do? I was letting the world distract me.
Try this: the next time you have an important paper or project to work on, put some Slipknot songs on and turn your speakers up as loud as they can go. Then turn your TV on to any random channel and put it on mac volume. While all that’s going on, call the most talkative person you know, put them on speaker, and just let them chatter away. Let me know how much work you get done during all of that. It’s the same when we’re talking to God. We need to cut out all the distractions around us to give ourselves the opportunity to focus on Him. It’s just like Emily said, He wants to hear from us and He wants to help. He wants to give us peace. We just have to put forth a little effort.
This is Part 2 of a multi-part series. Read Part 1 here. Subscribe for updates as they’re posted.