So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12:1-2, The Message)
I can’t tell you for how long I’ve struggled with wanting to change myself…trying to be someone I actually liked. I’ve gone through periods of such self-loathing that I’m amazed I came out the other end. It’s gotten better since B came along as I just don’t have time to sit there and hate myself anymore, but at the same time it’s gotten worse as I see so many traits in myself that I really, really, really don’t want to pass on to him. I’ve read these verses before but for some reason, a few weeks ago they just hit me head-on, full force and I’ve been thinking about the idea of not having to change myself but allowing (allowing!) God to do it for me. It’s freeing.
I’ve fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to spending time praying or reading the Bible daily. I used to do it quite often, but it would go in phases as is the case with so many things in my life. Since B came along, the majority of my day is dictated by the needs of a toddler as well as a house needing to be maintained, so I cherish the quiet times I have to myself as MINE. Where does God fit into MY time? Apparently no where.
I had a little bit of an epiphany in one of my therapy sessions where the concept that I’m not as in control as I like to give myself credit for really burrowed itself into my brain. With so many of these ideas, it’s easy for me to know or comprehend what they mean, but really embracing that meaning and believing it way deep down in the core of my being is an entirely different story. I’ve been hit over the head with some of these messages many, many times over the years (especially as I spent junior high and high school in Baptist schools), but it seems I needed to be here, where I am right now in this moment, to really understand what they mean. At any rate, I’ve been carrying that epiphany around with me for the last few weeks, gnawing on it, savoring it, and seeing what flavors come out of it.
One of the flavors was that I need to start understanding that my time really isn’t my own, and not in the feel-sorry-for-myself kind of way, but rather in the way that God has given me this time and I get to choose how to use it. Taking twenty minutes or a half hour out of my day to spend time reading the Bible and talking to God isn’t going to make me feel as if I have absolutely no time for myself (and, in fact, I’ve noticed the opposite at times). And I have to figure out what I want to be priorities in my life. Is sitting on Facebook reading the newest memes a priority for me, or is praying for my husband, son, friends, and family a priority? I know which one sounds like it should be the priority.
So I pulled out Whispers of Hope, which I’ve been dabbling in off and on for the last several years (and really, really like), along with Praying God’s Word, and started where I left off in January. It has actually inspired me to keep a prayer journal even when this one is done as it’s interesting to go back and read what I was thinking about on a given date. One of the first days I read from the book (day sixty-two, to be exact) had this line: “The more we partake of the things of the Spirit, the more we begin to think like the Spirit…,” and it suddenly dawned on me why I never seemed to change even after, at times, begging God to make me someone else. I’m not partaking of the things of the Spirit.
I’m so obsessed with food and feeding my little family nourishing, whole foods that will keep them healthy and thriving. I even take extra time and care to prepare some of these foods as they require the extra effort. And while I’ve seen the changes in my body, I had never thought that maybe the reason I wasn’t changing on the inside was because I wasn’t feeding the spirit within me. Maybe I was allowing it to subsist on Twinkies and Mountain Dew (singing along with an occasional praise song on the radio, reading a single Bible verse offered up somewhere, or shooting out a little prayer thanking God for finding me a parking spot at the grocery store) and expecting it to completely transform me. Maybe I needed to start giving my spirit a traditional foods diet.
It’s probably a really silly comparison, but the point of view that I’m so obsessed with feeding my body healthy foods, yet I’m letting my spirit starve really resonated with me. I know that God can do anything He wants, regardless of where I am spiritually and I don’t want to fall into the trap of only praying or reading my Bible because I want to get something from Him. But it does seem a little hypocritical of me to expect so much but offer so little.
And so, I’ve started up my “quiet time” (as we called it in high school) again during B’s naps. I haven’t been faithful every day, and I know that’s going to happen. But it’s felt really good to sit down, even when I don’t really feel like it, and spend that time with God, praying for those around me, but especially B and E. And seeing how God is going to work through just this simple little offering has been kind of fun. 🙂