The 20-Something Year Old Guide To God-Centered Rest and Soul-Care

self care

If you have been around me for any amount of time, you may have learned about one of my favorite simple joys. And that simple joy is pajamas. By pajamas, I don’t mean athletic shirts and old Varsity Track and Field T-shirts, I mean soft, color coordinated, warm, and fuzzy pajamas. The kind you buy in a set or off the rack at Target. I have to admit, when I put on a pair of pajamas after a long day, I truly feel closer to God.

So, as a person who loves pajamas more than most people, you probably think that I have a pretty good idea of how to rest well. And you would be right if we were talking about the amount of sleep I get each week. But if you looked at my actual soul care, what I did to take care of the spiritual part of my body, you might be surprised.

In the church, people have become almost adverse to rest. Thinking that if we stop to rest, that means that we are missing out on opportunities to serve God. Or, maybe you are one of those people who simply can’t rest. Your brain is always going a hundred miles an hour, and you book your calendar up so full that you don’t have time to think about anything, let alone rest. Maybe you are a tired college or grad student who is working, studying, and trying to have a social life. Most likely, you are someone like me, a working young adult who doesn’t know how to balance their work life, social life, Christian life, and rest all in one seamless day.

I always find myself wishing there were more hours in the day, more time to read, to do work, to catch up with others, to watch another Netflix episode, and of course to sleep. But unfortunately, I think as young people we put off rest. We think that we’ll have time to rest when we complete this project, or get this degree, or get this number of friends. That rest is something people need to earn, not something that is actively given to us each week by God.

But friends, we can’t possibly try to fill up others or expect to be the best versions of ourselves if we are constantly running on empty. We can’t talk to someone accurately about the grace and peace of Jesus when we can’t remember the last time we dug into His word. We can’t fill up others when we only take breaks to fill ourselves up with social media. Rest isn’t just getting your recommended 8 hours of sleep a night, or if you’re me more like 9 or 10. Rest is also soul deep. And if we are not taking the time each week to rest our souls, we are going to find ourselves living in a world where we are frazzled, stressed, and tired to our very cores.

So today, if you feel like your life is an out of control mess of tasks, events, and little free time, this article is for you. We are talking about the things that keep us from truly resting our souls, and how we can start caring for ourselves better each week.

We Feel Guilty

self care

Even though we have been saved by grace, we can sometimes act like we still have to earn our salvation. This can apply to “kingdom work,” but it can also apply to all areas of our lives.

For example, maybe you feel guilty about letting people down at work, so you constantly take on extra tasks. Maybe you feel afraid of letting people down, so everytime someone invites you to do something, you do it, even if it means you don’t get to rest. Maybe you look around at the Christians at your church who are doing so much more than you effortlessly and think that if you stopped to rest, people might think you are lazy.

Here’s the truth, God never made anyone in the Bible feel guilty about resting. In the Old Testament, when you could literally die for breaking the Sabbath, God always made way for His people to rest. He provided them with enough food and water so they wouldn’t have to gather it on the seventh day. Just like He can give us the ability to complete more tasks or get our workloads finished in six days, so we are able to rest on the seventh or just at points in the week. Truly allowing yourself time to soul rest means you are trusting God to help you get everything done, so you have time to rest.

Being a young adult is an absolutely crazy time in life. We normally spend our days working 8-9 hours, some of which involves us interacting only with people or staring at a screen, then we force ourselves to attend an exercise class, maybe we throw together a hurried meal, and end our night resting by falling asleep watching Netflix. We don’t give ourselves any room for our souls to breathe. Instead, we try to force our souls and our soul’s needs down to the very bottom of who we are. Thinking if we just quiet them for long enough, we won’t really need rest.

God gave us rest, not to make us feel guilty, but to make us feel grateful. So the next time you are getting ready to rest, stop thinking of it as a burden you have to bear, but as a gift, our gracious God has given us.

We Rest The Wrong Way

self care

I truly think that we can all rest and feel refreshed from different things. However, there are a lot of things that our society deems as restful, that end up just burdening our souls even more.

For instance, think about how much time you’ve spent looking at social media in the past day, compared to reading a book or giving your eyes a much-needed break from the screen. Think of a time where you just ended your day unwinding before bed, not watching an episode of Netflix and waking up to a blue screen.

Though technology can be a great gift, it can also be a huge detriment to our rest. I have to admit I love Instagram. It is by far my favorite social media platform currently. But, I know that if I’m not careful, I can start to put my identity, worth, time, and pieces of my heart into a platform instead of allowing those parts of myself to be filled with God. I can rely on it to wake me up and start my day, instead of spending time with God. I can find myself getting anxious when I haven’t checked it in a while, instead of taking that time to read a book, listen to a great podcast, or just sit alone with my thoughts.

And maybe for you, you find a different social media platform hard to resist, or you watch so much Netflix that you don’t remember how to rest without a screen in front of you. I am not saying that these aren’t good things in moderation, but when used in replace of soul rest, our souls become burdened and swayed by the world. We become anxious and feel like we are missing out if we miss a photo, snapchat, or episode. And let’s face it, every day has enough stress of its own without us creating even more.

So, I encourage you to think of some other ways you can rest. Is there a hobby you love that you’ve been neglecting? Do you love to read but haven’t picked up a book in ages? When was the last time you spent time nature and not because you had to take your trash out or get in your car?

If you are having a tough time coming up with non-technology driven ways to rest, here are some life-giving activities you can do that don’t require looking at a screen:

  • Take a walk or hike
  • Talking to a friend or family member on the phone
  • Writing a letter
  • Painting
  • Making something with your hands
  • Knitting
  • Reading( fiction too!)
  • Taking a bath
  • Painting your nails
  • Listening to music
  • Swimming
  • Napping
  • Fishing
  • Biking
  • Dancing
  • Exercising
  • Learning
  • Journaling
  • Playing an instrument
  • Singing
  • Baking

You get the idea. And that is not to say that you can’t indulge in some binge watching from time to time. But when we put our rest in earthly things, not only are we going to feel more broken, we are growing an idol. So take some time this week to just unplug, even if it’s just for 15 minutes.

FOMO

self care

The fear of missing out has only become more prevalent as our society has turned to technology. Now if you miss an event with friends, not only do you have to hear about it from them, but you also have to see the photos, videos, and captions you missed out on. Have you ever felt like you missed out on the perfect photo op? I know I have.

The truth is, when we start to fix our eyes more on eternity than what is temporal, we start to see how little those things matter. We realize that taking time to rest and spend more time with God is better for us in the long run than any Instagram post we missed out on creating.

What if we applied FOMO to our time spent resting with God? That we treated every time we missed reading our Bibles, praying, journaling, or giving our souls rest, with the same FOMO we feel when missing a night out with friends or a fall photo op. We might start to see what true FOMO is.

When we are overwhelmed and turn to worldly things to fill up our souls, it’s like ignoring the medicine a doctor prescribed to us when we were sick. When you feel sick, you take medicine, even if it’s just a tiny headache. So why is it that we reject taking medicine, or resting when it comes to soul care?

God has the solution for how to rest our weary souls, and it’s not found on a TV screen, on an Instagram video, or through essential oils, it’s Him. He is the solution and the medicine that our tired souls so desperately need. So to put it plainly, when we skip out on rest, we skip out on God’s best for us, on the medicine He has graciously given His soul tired people.

So stop being afraid to spend an introverted night in, to not sign up for yet another ministry need a church, and saying no to a friend because you just frankly need some time to be alone with your thoughts. You, yes you looking at this feeling exhausted to your very core, you need rest. Not the kind of rest that comes from a good night’s sleep, but the kind of rest that is only found in the presence of God.

Yes, I love to put on my pajamas when it’s the afternoon, and I have nothing going on at night, but that doesn’t mean my soul is feeling as comfy as my PJ pants. If we don’t take the time to self-care for our souls each week, we miss out on experiencing another part of God’s grace.

So, maybe you love wearing your pajamas, or drinking a cup of tea, or sniffing a particularly fragrant essential oil, whatever it is that brings you true rest, practice doing it this week. And then, practice it again. God doesn’t ask us to be perfect and structured in how we rest, but He does command us to trust Him. And when we start to give God more and more of our lives, we’ll see that taking the time to rest is His gift to us and a way to draw us closer to Him here on earth.

So what are you waiting for? Grab a book, a face mask, or an apron and get started resting. I know you’ll thank God and yourself for it.

Related Article: 4 Fears That Are Holding You Back From Finding Your Post-College People

4 Fears That Are Holding You Back From Finding Your Post-College People

post college friends

“I guess I’d feel better if I had a boyfriend to do things with,” I remember telling my mother wistfully as I looked out the window at the beautiful fall weather. “No you don’t,” my mother answered wisely, “You just want friends.”

That thought stopped me in my tracks. Not only because I was slightly insulted my mother was trying to pretend she knew my feelings better than I did, but because it was really true. Yes, part of me did want a boyfriend to go on cute fall dates with, but I mostly just wanted someone to go with me to do cute fall things in general. I craved having friends I could go to apple orchards and corn mazes with, or someone who would tolerate and even enjoy my love for scary movies. I guess I had just believed that having a boyfriend would mean I would have someone to do things with, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t still be lonely.

This conversation took place almost a year ago, as I was struggling and frustrated with God because I hadn’t really found my “people” yet post-college. I had been living in Lancaster for four months, and the huge group of friends I thought I would have at that point was looking a lot like zero. I foolishly thought that finding friends would be only too easy after college. I remember thinking, I’m fun, I’m likable, I sometimes make people laugh, who wouldn’t want to be my friend? Let me assure you, if you are struggling to find new friends in your new area or hometown after college, it is not because you are not likable. It has nothing to do with you at all. It’s just plain tricky.

Friendships, like any relationship, are built through time and effort. Just like you can’t be in the comfortable, “let’s just stay in and watch a movie,” stage until several months after dating, you can’t be best friends with someone instantly after you meet them one time. But that’s totally what I expected. And I am assuming that is something you were expecting as well.  We plan to make friends right away after college, and when it takes a lot more time, we get frustrated with God and our personalities.

Maybe if I was funnier, wittier, talked less, talked more, etc., I would have found friends by now. Or perhaps you’ve watched Friends one too many times and are wondering where your perfect group of five friends could be hiding? Let me hit you with some truth; I didn’t have any friends in Lancaster until like December. You heard me correctly, I didn’t have friends I felt like I could connect with until post-Christmas, and I only had two of them. I didn’t feel fully comfortable and have weekend plans consistently until April, or this past Spring. This means it took me almost a whole year to establish a legitimate community.

And I don’t mean a community of people I just talk to briefly at church, or flake on plans with at the last minute because I secretly like Netflix better than them, or who talk only about themselves and couldn’t care less about my problems. I mean true genuine friendships or people who sincerely know me and love me despite my flaws. I have found a community of people that I can rely on post-college, and you can too.

So today if you have been attending your new church, living in your new town, or dutifully attending your small group weekly, don’t freak out because you haven’t met your best friend. Good, quality friends and community take time, and today, I want to go through some things that I believe hold us back from finding a good community.

Rejection

post college friends

We are terrified that no one actually wants to spend time with us. And, because our confidence is generally running thinner than the shorts at American Eagle during this life change, we become too afraid to ask. What if they say no? What if they laugh at me? What if they go and then hate me? There are so many questions swirling around our insecure brains that we let fear win, and we don’t end up asking anyone to hang out. And because they may be waiting for someone to ask them to hang out just like you are, you both end up lonely on Saturday night re-watching Gossip Girl or that cheesy Netflix rom-com.

I got rejected a lot of times when I asked people to hang out. When I moved to the area, I asked a girl from my college to hang out over Facebook messenger. Even though we hadn’t been friends in college, I was convinced we could be friends now, plus we had so much in common already! Hello, new best friend! She left me on read and never responded.

And I wish I could say that was the last time I was rejected by someone I thought I could be friends with. Girls are cruel, even outside of high school. Sometimes people thought they replied to you and forgot. Sometimes life is crazy, and we have other things on our mind. The point is, we all have the potential to be rejected from a friend date, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put ourselves out there. Someone will say yes to your invitation, and then you can say goodbye to Peter Kravinsky for a night.

We Invest In The Wrong People

post college friends

Finding a new set of friends is honestly just like dating. We go somewhere casual for our first meeting or date, like a coffee shop, getting a drink, or to dinner. We are generally nervous and hoping to impress them. And, we have to say lame things at the end of the night like, “we should do this again sometime,” or, “would you want to do this again sometime?” even if we don’t mean it. But, just like dating, sometimes you don’t just click with people. They could appear to have everything you want in a friend from the outside but then end up not being someone you could see yourself hanging out with on a regular basis.

In dating, people don’t feel bad at all about ghosting someone, so why should you feel bad about not hanging out with someone you met who just wasn’t your favorite? I am not suggesting you “ghost” these people, but don’t feel bad not attempting to make plans with someone again who you honestly couldn’t see yourself becoming close to. We all look for different traits and desire different things from our friends, don’t feel bad when you don’t click with someone.

Likewise, with dating, it may be smart to give someone another chance if your first meeting was kind of bland. But, if you have been hanging out with a girl for a while now and she is just not your speed, a real mean girl,  or someone who sucks the energy out of you, you can stop. It’s not like in high school when you are forced to see the same people day after day if you don’t want to be close to someone, no one is forcing you to be. We all have a limited amount of energy we can extend on our friendships, so don’t waste some of that precious energy on someone who is just ok.

We Don’t Know What To Talk About

post college friends

Especially if you are someone who is more introverted, you may be panicked and anxious thinking about how to interact with someone you don’t know well. What if you can’t think of anything to say? Or, none of you have anything to say, and you just sit in awkward silence? Luckily for you, I have come up with some question ideas to get the conversation going and not stopping.

What do you do as a living?

Where did you grow up?

Do you have any brothers and sisters?

Are you a cat or dog person?

Who is someone you look up close?

Coffee or tea?

Books or podcasts?- and what author or podcaster is your favorite?

Where do you go to church in the area?

What is your idea of a perfect Saturday?

What’s your favorite season or holiday?

What is your idea of a perfect meal?

Who is your favorite band or musician?

What show have you been binge watching lately?

Do you live at home or on your own?

What is your favorite thing about the city you live in?

What was your favorite Halloween costume when you were a kid?

What is your favorite store to shop at?

What is your favorite restaurant to eat at?

What do you like most and least about your current job?

Where did you go to college?

Cooking or baking?

Who is your celebrity crush?

These questions may seem silly or like they might not lead to deep conversation, but remember, your first meeting with this person is akin to your first date. You can’t go telling them your entire life story before you’ve gotten your frappuccino. Take it slow and realize that truly getting deep and knowing someone takes time.

We Compare Ourselves To Others

post college friends

If you asked post-college grads what something they struggle with the most is, I am sure that comparison would be at the top of their list. With social media, it is almost too easy to see how people we used to know or go to school with are up to. It can be challenging when you are feeling especially blue, to see a bunch of your college friends getting together because they all live in the same area, or seeing pictures of a friend going out with a group of new friends to a big event.

It can be easy to feel like you are really behind on the friend game. That when you do reunite with your college friends, they will have replaced you and you’ll have to pretend the girl you sat next to and briefly had a conversation with at church is actually a close friend and not a mere acquaintance, so they don’t feel bad for you when gushing about their new friends.

But, my mother always taught me this great saying, “Make new friends but keep the old. “

You reached a depth and understanding with your old friends that you most likely haven’t achieved with your new friends yet. Also, just because your friends are making new friends, doesn’t mean they don’t still need you in their lives. I love that I have friends that I go to for different things. I have friends who are better listeners, are great for a night in, great for a night out, better for spiritual talks, and better to gossip with( don’t judge me too harshly for this one). And, if you stop to look at your current friend circle, I am sure that you will notice the same thing. We aren’t replacing our old friends by making new ones; we are simply filling other roles in our lives or enhancing ones that are already there.

So don’t feel shame that your old friends are making more new friends than you, or feel guilty about making new friends. As you get older and spend more time out of college, you’ll realize that you have friends who you kept just for a season, and friends you’ll keep for a lifetime.

And just because someone posts a bunch of pictures of themselves with new people, doesn’t mean they didn’t go home missing their other friends and feeling lonely that night. No one is truly doing as well as their Instagram feed suggests.

Also, it’s important to remember that we have different capacities for friendship and others. It’s even deeper than introversion and extraversion. You may love being around people, but only be able to handle having a couple of deeper relationships. Or, you may be someone who is comfortable being close to a lot of people. Don’t get upset about your limits, instead, embrace them. Because we can all handle different levels of people, you can’t compare yourself to the girl from Instagram who has such a wide circle of friends, you may think you want that, but you would actually be exhausted by it. And, if you want to make more friends, you can always reach out to others as I mention in this article.

Wrapping It Up

post college friends

If you have been starting to get the friendship blues lately, it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone. There are young adults all over the world that are facing this issue. Women out there who are craving deeper, God-centered community, who are looking for someone like you to reach out and be their new friend. God has not abandoned you. He has great plans and great friends He wants to influence you, and also for you to influence. So put yourself out there, put down that Instagram feed, and stop letting fear hold you back from making new friends in your area.

Let me know if you have any tips to help make friends more easily in the comments below!

Action Steps

1. Pray for God to bring you new friends and to open your eyes to those around you.

2. Invite one person this month or week to get coffee. Don’t worry about what you’ll talk about or let fear hold you back, just do it.

3. Follow Up. Once you have had a great coffee date or hang out time with a potential best friend, don’t hesitate to follow up and ask them to hang out again. After all, you can’t have a real relationship with someone if you’ve only gone on one date. Be intentional in the pursuit of friendship, and it will pay off!

Summer Time Sadness: How To Make Your Faith Feel Like Summer All Year Long

summer

For many of us, the ending of summer can signal the end of, seemingly all things fun and whimsical. Though many of us may be at the point in our lives where we are restricted to celebrating summer at night or on the weekend, there is still the joy of sunny days, hot weather, and the promise of the beach.  That alone is what keeps many of us going as we sit hunched at our computers in our frozen tundra of an office. Summer means sticking your toes in the soft, squishy sand, suntans( and hopefully not sunburns), concerts, bonfires, and lifting your face up to feel the sunshine on a hot summer’s day at the pool.

Though there are so many things to look forward to during the fall months, many of us start to get into the rhythm that soon, winter will be upon us. And even if we do enjoy sweater weather and the smell of the many Bath and Body Works fall scents, when fall arrives, we resort back into autopilot. Kids go back to school, teachers to their classrooms, and you most likely have used up most of your vacation days.

I think, just like the changing of seasons and the fun of summer, it can be easy to get into that rhythm with our relationship with God. We have seasons just like summer, where we can feel God’s presence like the baking sun or we are filled with the anticipation and joy of meeting Him akin to us packing our bags for a much-needed vacation.

Though we may be busy over the summer months, there is always an air of fun, and rest, like you can take a nap whenever you want, preferably in a hammock in the sun. Unfortunately, summer has to come to an end, and our seasons of joy and excitement for Christ often meet their endings as well.

We may find ourselves in a season where we don’t want to read our Bibles like we used to, church seems like a drag, and we just have no idea what to say to God. We feel so busy with the hustle and bustle of the workplace, our community groups, friends, going to the gym, and cooking that we barely have enough time to think during the day, let alone reach out to God. We no longer feel that we can relax or just take a day to be in His presence. We may find ourselves busy with new classes, new work schedules, and new opportunities to serve at church.

It can be easy to become like a tree with our faith in God. During the summer we burst to life glowing and so full of life, but then slowly, sometimes without us even noticing, our leaves start to slowly change to a burnt out orange or tired looking green color. The leaves are still beautiful, but a lot more tired and less robust looking than they were in the summer. And then slowly, without giving it a thought, one day our tired wilted leaves and faith start to fall and crumble.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

summer

Moving to a new community and place after college, I definitely felt the effects first hand of a tired and worn out faith. I was trying to get everything right and perfect at work, trying to find a church and meet a new community of friends, and unsuccessfully trying to cook myself something that wasn’t cereal during the week. After attending a Christian college for years where I was surrounded by people aching to share their faith and a constant flow of ministry events, it was hard to find out how my faith could fit into the adult world.

Let me let you in on a little secret. A strong faith takes work. People that have those extraordinary faiths or write books that you learn from, the people you envy and think are far more spiritual than you, do you know how they got to where they are at? With hard work and determination. They didn’t let the feeling of summer make them forget that they have to put in work sometimes to hear the voice of God. Even in their dry seasons, they are diligent followers of Christ.

I have to be honest, I don’t always feel like spending time with God these days. I hope this isn’t blasphemy, but often, I wish I could tune out and watch another episode of whatever on Hulu instead of taking some crucial moments to connect with God. It can be hard to make yourself get up and out of your comfy covers before the workday or class to spend time with a God that you think has forgotten about you. It can be hard to give God your attention when you feel more from watching a Netflix rom-com than you have recently felt reading your Bible. It can be hard to make His relationship a priority and spend time in the Word when we have access to so many podcasts and online sermons, that can just let us tell us what we should think.

But our relationship with God is never based on how we are feeling, it is based on how He views us.

That means that God still loves me, has chosen me, and wants to use me, even when I hit the snooze button on my alarm. Even when I choose TV, the gym, or any other form of numb activity over Him.

So I don’t know what season you are in with your faith today. Maybe summer hasn’t quite ended for you yet, or maybe winter has come early. Either way, I want you to know that having a tough time connecting with God and feeling stressed about not knowing when to spend time with Him is completely normal. We all have to find new routines and what works best for us when we enter the “real world.” The important thing to remember is not to give up just because you feel like you are in a dry season or are tired. God will never tire of growing closer to you.

Just because the sun isn’t burning you to a crisp, doesn’t mean it’s not still shining.

By putting in effort and learning and growing in the Lord, you can get to a place where even when you don’t feel like summer, you can still push through and see a glimpse of the sun. So, if you are feeling dry today, check out my tips below, instead of giving up. Maybe it’s time you got your bathing suit back out and ready for use. I heard this summer is going to be a hot one.

summer

Things That Helped Me:

  • Being really consistent about my time in the Word. Making it a priority to read it every day, even when I didn’t feel like it. Even if I barely glossed over it before going to bed.
  • Finding community. Small groups are great to join. Not only can they have open conversations about topics like this, but they can help to keep you accountable when you are struggling.
  • Turning off the “Christian” social media followers. We all know the people who post every single day what they are reading in the Bible on their Instagram stories, they are constantly quoting scriptures online, and post a screenshotted picture from their Spotify of whatever Hillsong song they woke up to. If you are struggling in your relationship, sometimes the last thing you need is to be reminded that you are falling short. But, the truth is, we are only ever falling short in our own eyes. God doesn’t expect the same metrics and guidelines that we put on ourselves to be a “Christian.” So, if you are following someone who is making you feel insecure about your faith, don’t hesitate to hit that unfollow button.
  • Journal. When you can’t think of the words to pray, try writing them out. Be open and transparent to God about what you are feeling.
  • Find a new way to structure your quiet time. There are so many different ways we can feel closer to God. It’s easy to think that our quiet times need to have us pray, read, or sing for a set amount of time each day. But, some people connect best to God through walking around nature, reading a scripture book, journaling, painting, talking to other believers. Though there is no substitute for reading His word and praying, it’s ok to know that everyone’s time spent with God looks different. Also, that sometimes you need to change it up!

I hope that this article can encourage you that so many people feel like they aren’t as close to God as they want to be or once were. No one can stay in summer forever, but that doesn’t mean that we have to sacrifice seeing the sun. Find what works best for you and rediscover who God is this fall!

5 Ways To Grow and Strengthen Friendships Post-College

community

When I moved to Lancaster a year ago, I didn’t know a soul. I only knew my uncle, his cat, and the people I had briefly met while interviewing at the job I was taking. I had big dreams to move out of my incredibly small town, find some new forever friends, and take the Lancaster social scene by storm.

But, what most people don’t realize until they actually move, is that moving far from your home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. You may see social media post, after social media post of people bragging about their new apartments or homes, going out to new hot spots and coffee shops, getting dressed for their first day of work, but I am here to reassure you that moving far from home is not all rainbows and butterflies. More the opposite.

For me, it looked more like tear-filled nights missing my mom, my aging dog, and the bed I had always known. It was the great frustration of having to program the grocery store into my GPS because I barely knew where anything was. It was going to church by myself for months on end and crying in the parking lot because I desperately wanted friends to sit with or at least a boyfriend. Yes, it was so fun and exciting to finally get out of the small town I had always felt trapped in, but it also came with a price.

Like I stated in last month’s article, making friends in college and even in high school isn’t too difficult. We are thrown together with people who are our age, normally think similarly to us, and who are going through the same experiences we are.

Making friends after college is much different. Many of us start jobs where our colleagues may be our parent’s age or older. Our Sundays start by attending churches that are filled with faces that look unfamiliar. Many of us may be terrified at the thought of going to a young adults group by ourselves or asking strangers we met one time on “get to know you better,” coffee dates.

I think that the problem that many of us find when trying to make friends after college isn’t so much the fear of rejection or lack of people in our areas, but it’s the fact that we might not actually be as good of friends as we thought we were. Instead of moaning to our college friends or moms about how we’re not finding anyone we are “clicking” with, maybe we should spend more time figuring out if we’re even someone we’d want to be friends with.

Just like it’s not too hard to make friends in college, it’s not too hard to maintain those friendships either. Most of the time we are living within walking distance or halls from each other. Our social calendars are dictated by sorority or college events where we are entertained together. We have three meals a day to get to know others better, and we have class projects and study spots that encourage interaction. Unfortunately, we don’t have anyone influencing our social calendars in the real world besides ourselves.

If we don’t put ourselves out there, we are going to be spending our Saturday nights with takeout and Netflix, not with a community. And though it’s all too easy to think about what we want in friendships, I think that sometimes we need to take a better look at how we are as friends. So, in today’s article, I want to talk a little bit about what to look for in a friend, but mostly how we should be friends to others. It’s been said that we attract people like us in friendships or even romantic relationships. Which means that if you’re a terrible friend, you won’t be finding any great friends anytime soon. So here are some steps you can take to assess how you are as a friend and to see how you can go about finding that community you may be missing from your college days.

Talk About Yourself Less

friends talking

This is definitely a tough one for me because I love to talk and sadly talk about myself. But, after high school, I was super convicted that I was gossiping and talking about myself much more than regular people. So, if you are someone who wants to be a better friend, take stock of how much you talk about yourself. When you meet someone for the first time, try to challenge yourself to ask more questions than you answer. Some great questions to start with are:

  • What do you do?/ Are you in school?
  • How long have you lived in the area?
  • What did you study in college/ where did you attend?
  • Do you have any siblings?
  • What church do you attend?

These are just basic questions that will hopefully open up a conversation for you to go deeper. The goal of any friendship is to get past these surface level conversations. But when you are making friends for the first time, be comfortable with the fact that you will have these seemingly more shallow conversations at first. After a while, and more questions on your part, you will go deeper.

Be The Invitation

kelsey-chance-575541-unsplash

Unfortunately, in the real world, people aren’t going to be lining up at work, or your church to invite you into their friend group. Most people are just like us and are afraid to make the first move in a friendship. So, instead of waiting and constantly grumbling that no one invites you anywhere, be the invitation. Make it a goal to invite a new friend or someone you want to get to know better to coffee once a month or week.

It can be really intimidating to ask someone to hang out for the first time, you may be afraid that you’ll get rejected. I know that I got rejected by a couple of people I asked to get to know better, but I didn’t let that keep me down. You can’t be friends with everyone, and if people are offended or put off by you wanting to get to know them better, they probably aren’t the people for you either.

And if you meet someone that you click with, ask them for their phone number and follow up. God gives us friends in the most unexpected places. It could be through other friends’ parties, at a cafe, in a young adults group, even in your yoga class. Be open and look for opportunities to meet new people everywhere you go.

Be Open

courtney-prather-588081-unsplash

It pains me to admit that I had a certain idea of the type of friend I wanted after college. I thought they needed to look like me, like my college friends, and act like them. But the beautiful thing about friendship is that it exposes us to the differences in others and challenges our beliefs. Yes, you should find similarities in people you want to be friends with. It will be too difficult to be friends with people you have absolutely nothing in common with. However, don’t write someone off because they seem a little “too out there” or don’t look like the rest of your sorority sisters.

You should be friends with people of all looks, personalities, shapes, and sizes. I know that I was superficial of this when I first started looking for friends, but I quickly threw it out the window. Be friends with someone based on how they are, not on how they look or what they can offer you. And give people more than one chance. Some of my best friends from college were people I thought were snobby when I first met them( they were just quiet). Just because someone rubs you the wrong way at first doesn’t mean they won’t be one of your good friends in a couple of months.

Pray

ben-white-139141-unsplash

Pray that you will make great friends and that you will also become a better friend in the process. God is faithful, and I have seen in my own life how He has provided me with the people I’ve needed. Also, pray for the new friends you are making. This will help you to become closer to them as well. I know I have been slacking on this lately, but after the end of phone conversations or Skype sessions with far away friends, I always try to ask them how I can be praying for them.

Do the same with your new friends you are meeting. It can be intimidating, but it will make your friendship so much stronger to know that someone is praying for you and invite deeper conversations about what may be really going on in their lives. Praying brings us closer together, so don’t underestimate the power of asking someone what they need prayer for.

Realize Quickly Everyone Can’t Be Your Best Friend

becca-tapert-357541-unsplash

This is a lesson I constantly have to keep learning the hard way. I am someone who likes to have a wide circle of friends. But, as I entered the working world and all that entails, I realized I have much more limited time than I did in college. I don’t have three meals a day which I can fill up with the different people I want to get to know better. I now have the weekends and weeknights to invest. And, if I’m not careful, I can burn myself out.

Part of growing up is realizing that it isn’t selfish to be more inclusive with who your close friends are or who you want to invest in.  Honestly, it can be pretty selfless. You see, when I try to be close and best friends with everyone, it takes away from the ways I am able to invest and care for the friends I value the most.

I may push back conversations and hang out times with the people who are truly pouring into me as much as I am to them to give attention to someone who doesn’t matter as much. God expects us to love everyone, but He doesn’t expect everyone to become our bosom friend. So, I would encourage you to take stock of your friendships during this time of transition or when you start making friendships in your area. Who are the people you are content just running into from time to time at church, and who are the people you want to make an effort to see?

Likewise, when looking at faraway friends, who are the people who are continuing to reach out and put effort into me? Who are the friendships I really want to preserve? Who do I find myself praying for? By realizing that you can’t be best friends with every fun and nice person you meet at a young adults group, you will save a lot of time and energy to invest in the people who are or will become your people.

Action Steps:

Here are some easy steps you can take this week or month to start growing in your friendships and forming a community wherever you located.

  • Join a small group
  • Ask a friend out for coffee, for hiking, even to an exercise class
  • Ask a good friend from college to Skype or talk on the phone
  • Pray for courage to make better friends and to become a better friend
  • Ask a co-worker to go to a happy hour after work one day this week
  • Sit next to someone your age at church or a young adult group and introduce yourself
  • When you are waiting in line, strike up a conversation with whoever is in front of you.
  • Go to public places to hang out even if you just want to cuddle your comforter and stay in
  • Accept invitations even if you are tired and would rather stay in.
  • Ask your friends honestly about your good friend qualities and also areas they think you could improve

As you can see, there a lot of elements to being a great friend. Friendships means sometimes we are going to succeed, and sometimes we are going to fail. Luckily, there are plenty of people in the world right now that we can be doing life with. God brings people into our jobs, churches, small groups, and vicinities for a specific purpose. Some come for seasons and some last for a lifetime. Focus this time on being a better friend, and I can guarantee that it won’t be long before you are surrounded by a healthy community.

3 Pieces Of Advice For The Scared To Death College Senior

Honestly, sometimes I still have a hard time realizing that I have been out of college for a whole year. Then I’m grocery shopping, getting up much too early, unsuccessfully making jello( real story), and going to work every day, and I remember.  Oh, do I remember.

College is such an amazing time in every young person’s life. It is where you discover who you are, meet friends that last a lifetime, and nap as much as you want.

However, like all good things, college also has to come to an end. Soon enough everyone will walk across the stage and hold a diploma in their hand that signifies everything they have worked and cried for these past four years. And, then, just like that, it’s all over. You pack up the dorm room full of memories, hug your friends tightly goodbye as you scatter across the country, and move back home to wait. Wait for your life to begin or at least get a job.

As much as you may say you are ready and that you loathe college, no one is really ready for the transition that comes after college. One day you’re walking around safe in your college bubble, and then pop! Suddenly you have to cook for yourself, and pay for everything, and get up early.

I hope that in this article I can help to give encouragement and strength to those of you who are about to embark on the messy, hilarious, and incredibly new journey to adulthood. Though the college years are amazing for most, society lies to us when they say that college is the best four years of our lives. They are not the best; they are the start of a much more fulfilling and joyful life. So, if I could go back to this time last year when I was studying hard for my finals and trying to squeeze in every possible second with my best friends, what would I say?

Laugh At Yourself

Adulthood is going to kick you around that first couple of months. You may be starting a job you thought college prepared you for, only to realize that you have retained nothing and have no idea what you are doing. You may move into an apartment for the first time and have to cook for yourself, only to realize that you can only make cereal. You may be moving to a city far from your family and friends, and have to find your own church and a new community.

Times will be tough, confusing, and hilarious. I can’t tell you the number of times that I screwed up cooking, I mean terribly,  and still am, my first year out of college. So learn the difference between the things that should upset you and the things you just need to laugh off.

Be open and willing to learn new things. I have learned more this past year than I did all four years of college combined. Most of that comes from the real experience I am getting at my job, but a lot of it is personal. I have learned how to be a friend outside of college, how to order deli meat at the grocery store, how to go to church by myself, how to be on my own, what I like to do in my spare time, and how to successfully not nap through the day. You will be learning a lot too. So, don’t go into that job thinking you know everything or act that way to your friends. I guarantee after a week of being a real adult you’ll realize just how little you actually know.

For instance, this time last year I had no idea that in two short weeks, the internship I had secured for the summer would be taken away, and several weeks later I would be starting at a company I had never heard of my four years at Grove City. God definitely has a sense of humor, but He also will lead you. When everything else around you is changing, including the scenery, know that the God that you have worshipped and loved for many years never changes.

Action: Keep a journal of that first year after college. This will be a great place to keep your thoughts safe when you need to whine, and to laugh at the misadventures that you are sure to get into. I promise you after your first year out of college you will be able to find yourself chuckling at the entries of you not knowing how to grocery shop or do things that are second nature to you now at your job.

Let Go Of Crazy Expectations

I think that society puts a ton of pressure on college grads, or maybe we just put that pressure on ourselves, to have it all figured out the minute we walk across that stage. But that is completely insane. If anything, you are even more lost and confused after graduation than you were going in. The world is your oyster, and you enter the workforce fresh and having no idea what you are doing. No one is expecting you to get a raise two months after starting that first job, for that first job to be your forever job, or for you to have it all figured out.

Do yourself a favor during this time and take a break from social media. This is especially true if you aren’t quite sure what God has planned for you after graduation. It can be all too easy when you are stuck at home at your parent’s house desperate for anyone to hire you, to compare yourself to those around you. To the people that have those coveted jobs, are getting engaged, are moving to new cities. Everyone looks so pulled together, much more than you are sitting in your childhood bedroom.

But friends, no one posts their tears on social media. No one posts the number of rejection letters they got before landing that job, no one posts when they are crying of loneliness during those first months in a new city, no one vents their frustrations about having to put their own gym into a GPS because they have no idea how to get anywhere in their new strange town.

As a college graduate, I can guarantee that everyone is struggling in some new way. It might not be the same way that you are, but trust me, your peers are just as lost and clueless as you feel.

Action: Pray. Pray on your knees and be honest. Don’t let social media make you question who you are or how much God loves you. Be honest with your friends and family when you are struggling. Vulnerability leads to more vulnerability. Your friends may just be waiting and wanting you to admit you are so freaking lost.  We are all works in progress; we are not completed until we get to heaven. So take the pressure off and realize it’s totally normal to be so lost and so confused. Isn’t that what your 20s are for?

Lean Into Community

One of the hardest parts of leaving college behind for me was the incredible friends that I made. There is a certain bond that is unlike any other that you have with your college friends. You lived with them, learned with them, and experienced life closely together for the past four years. They shaped you into who you are, and you shaped them. It can be hard to set out to find a new community and to keep the old. But here are some tips I have.

Set a schedule

  • Life gets crazy and so busy, make those friendships that you want to keep in your life a priority. Set aside a time each week or month to talk to certain friends. Trust me; if you don’t plan it, it won’t happen. And don’t be worried to initiate talking with friends first. The last time I checked people don’t get upset when you want to continue to invest in them.

Set up visits

  • Yes, phone calls, social media, and Skype are great, but you also need to make time to see these friends. Plan a girls trip, come together for Homecoming, or drive down to see them some weekend. This is especially vital if you are single because when you get married, it is going to be more challenging to visit those dear friends whenever you feel like it.

Community takes work

  • It doesn’t really take any work to make friends in college. Yes, you do have to talk to people and put yourself out there, but from what I remember from my freshman year, pretty much everyone is thirsty for friends. You are surrounded by people that have similar beliefs and are actually your age. You can walk up to someone, introduce yourself, and they are your new best friend. Unfortunately, the real world isn’t quite so easy. The truth is, if you don’t put yourself out there and seek out finding new friends and community, you won’t find it. If you stay in every Saturday night to watch Netflix, you’ll be watching it alone by yourself six months later just the same.

Yes, continue to invest in your college friends, but as Christians, we were created for community. Phone calls from long distance friends every week are great, but we need face to face interaction too. As a very extroverted person, I thought finding community would be so easy. It is NOT! It takes a lot of effort and time. It takes dealing with rejection and awkwardness and showing up to a young adult group again and again when you know no one.

But, after those months of trying your best to find that community, I promise you it will happen. When you put the effort in, pray for Godly friends, and seek them out, you will find them. But don’t expect people just to befriend you automatically.

So here are some tips if you are moving to a new place:

Join a small group

This is an easy way to get close to people and also have a weekly commitment. These are people just like you who are seeking out a community and are willing to put in the effort to find it. Go a couple of times before you throw in the towel, I know that my first judgments of people are usually very wrong.

Connect with other college people

Try to scope out if anyone from your college is moving to or around the area you will be living. Yes, you may not have been close or even known them well in college, but that doesn’t mean they can’t become some of your closet friends post-college.  These are people who can help to fill the college-shaped hole in your heart that throbs so much that first year away.

Go Out

Go to public places. Join a gym, go to a coffee shop, go to church, but don’t sit on your couch, cry, and call your mom. Get out there and make some friends.

Yes, finding community outside of college is a longer and harder process than it is in college, but it is so worth it. God will bring you the friends you need and friends that also need you, but you have to be willing to put in some work.

Action: Make it a goal and priority to invite someone new or someone you met for the first time to hang out with you this week. When I first moved to Lancaster and started meeting people, I made it my goal to try to hang out with two new people each month. Now, I didn’t always meet that goal, but it definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone to meet up with people and make those close relationships happen.

Life after college is a crazy, unexpected, but beautiful journey. I am so excited for you to begin this journey and hope that my advice can help you along the way. Remember that God directs your steps and He will not lead you somewhere He isn’t. Trust that He knows your plan and enjoy the ride.

3 Things To Do When Your Jeans Stop Fitting: Finding Worth In What Matters

To me, and probably every woman on the planet, there isn’t a worse feeling or activity in the world than jean shopping. On Friday I find myself standing under the hot, unflattering yellow lights as I try my best to squeeze my body into a pair of jeans that are supposed to shape me and make me look better, but better I do not look. I step outside my dressing room hoping that the three-way mirror will reveal a different truth.  But instead of satisfaction and happiness,  all I feel is shame and bile slowly rising in my throat.

All I can think at that moment is how much I hate my body. How I hate my thighs, my butt, my calves, my ankles, my kneecaps, pretty much any muscle or bone that goes into making my legs my legs. I don’t think about how my muscular legs can help me to walk and helped me compete in a sport I loved for ten years. I don’t think about how boys like girls with a little meat on their bones or “thicc”- personally a word I would die to be described as. I only think about how further, and further down in the vast heaping pile of jeans my size is starting to become. How at the top where I used to belong with the 0s and 2s, now have given way to much deeper down the pile. And I hate what I see and what I have become.

As I head home that night with a pair of jeans much bigger than I thought I would need tucked in my bag, I am horrified by what I saw in the dressing room. Horrid thoughts race through my head as I make myself dinner. Why am I bigger? Why has my body that used to be so tiny continued to betray me.? Is everyone going to notice that my butt is the size of a small state now?

As I take a deep breath and will myself to eat dinner even though a big part of me wants to skip it all together, I am reminded that the way that I view myself and my lack of thigh gap is not how God sees me. Not even a little bit. And as I start to eat my dinner, I was never one for self-control, I am reminded of the enemy and the lies that he uses to upset us and distance us from God. I just never realized how much my body shame was doing that.

In today’s culture, women really can’t win in how we look. We are expected to have a flat stomach, decent sized boobs, a butt that other women are envious of and men lust over, small stick legs, and a perfect hourglass shape. I have never met such a woman, and if you have, please send me a picture because I would love to see how all of that ends up looking together. Instead, we have so many women that are so unhappy with how they look. Our thighs are too big; our legs are too small, we have too big of boobs, our chests look like 12-year-old boys, our butts are too flat, our butts are too big, I mean when does it ever stop?

And unfortunately, I feel like there are too many beautiful women out there that feel the same way. Women who feel bile rising in their throats as they look in the mirror in the morning and cry when looking at how perfect other girl’s selfies look on Instagram.

Today I want to challenge our way of thinking, and I hope that these tips can help all of us to love ourselves a little better and truly grasp the way that God sees us. My goal today is to show you that:

The number on a scale can seem to define the health of our bodies, but really it defines the health of our hearts.

By this, I mean that the way we react to our fluctuating weight speaks more to the state of our soul and our soul health than our actual physical health. It can be easy to put our identity in how we look, how people expect us to look, what society claims is beautiful, but God luckily has never put that kind of pressure on us. I am ready to have a healthier view of my body, are you?

Put Your Worth In An Identity That Never Fades

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”

If we put our identity in the trends of this world, we are always going to be disappointed. There is always going to be another new celebrity we are supposed to look like, a new lip kit to try, and a new contouring style that is supposed to make our skin look effortless. We are never going to measure up or have it all together. Even those amazing Instagram beauty models have to take their makeup off at the end of the day and stare at their naked faces every evening.

God’s love, unlike makeup, once accepted and truly known, can never be washed, peeled, or rubbed off. It will stick to your soul like glue.

Let’s have this perspective when thinking about creating a worth that will never fade away. In Jesus, who formed our faces in our mother’s womb and thinks we are breathtaking without a stitch of makeup. Let’s put our hope and our emotions in words He has written to us, not in a fad that is sure to fade. Jesus died on the cross for all of us, big and small, contoured, perfectly manicured and uncut toenails. Believe that today and let His words replace the lies and expectations our society puts on us.

Move: Write down five Bible verses that talk about worth, appearance, or what Jesus did for you. Put them on your mirror and around your house to remind you of who you are when you forget.

Hone Gifts That Matter

“If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?”- 1 Corinthians 12:17

You have all been given distinct and precious gifts through the Holy Spirit. So, this week, instead of spending hours working yourself to death at the gym, online shopping to numb your soul, or watching unrealistic YouTube makeup tutorials, ask God to reveal your gifts to you. Think about the things that set your soul on fire, that you love to do, that you even feel called to do. Spend time harnessing those gifts. Nothing is going to make you feel more beautiful than doing what you are called and have been appointed to do. And, if you don’t know or have any idea where God is leading you, pray. He will show you and prepare you.

Nothing is more beautiful than a woman who is letting her purpose define her, not her poundage.

Unfortunately, I don’t think they make a Fitbit for that quite yet.

Action: So sign up for that ministry class, sign up to serve at your church, start a blog, learn that instrument, do something that nourishes your soul this week, that makes you feel alive in a way no great workout or slim-fitting pair of jeans can.

Find A Healthy Balance

It can be easy in our exercise-crazed, organic world to take the need to be healthy a little too far. To starve yourself to death to be “healthy,” and punish yourself for not working out every day during the week. Don’t let the joy and goodness of being fit and healthy become an idol. It can be easy to think that an idol has to be something that we construct and physically bow down to like the Israelites did in the Bible, but in reality, we bow down to things every day. We do this by giving up our time, our energy, our thoughts, our desires.

We do this when we push ourselves to exercise for an hour every day but neglect to spend any time with God. We do this when we let our makeup collection take precedence over tithing for the month. We do this when we let our horrible negative self-talk define who we are over the God of the universe.

This week I finally realized that I have not had the healthiest view of exercise. I would get angry at myself for only being able to workout four times a week.  I felt like I needed to start pushing myself to exercise more even though it meant giving up other things.  This especially escalated during my jean shopping venture as you can imagine. Thoughts like, “If I hadn’t gotten that smoothie the other day at the café,” and “ If I had worked out instead of getting coffee with a friend the other day this size would fit.”

Unfortunately, we are never going to get to a point where we are skinny enough, toned enough, and fashionable enough.

Contentment in who we are can’t come from broken people, perfectly packaged products, or calories burned; it can only come from the punctured wounds of the only truly whole human being, Jesus Christ.

That is why we need to strike a balance with the world. Where we can still exercise, eat healthily, and dress well, but we don’t let our desire for these things overtake us.

Process: Take a hard look at your “healthy” habits this week. See what has become an idol and what needs to be cut back on. Be honest and train your mind to start seeing exercise and healthy eating as a way to be healthy, not a way you HAVE to live to be a decent person worth loving. You are worth loving because Jesus died on the cross for you, not because you burned x amount of calories at the gym.

I hope today you can look at yourself in the mirror, warts and all, and realize that you are unequivocally and exquisitely enough just how you are. Your weight, face, and waistline were bought at a high price. So give yourself some slack today, and eat that piece of pizza for me, yourself, and Jesus.

5 Essential Ways To Make The Most Of Your Time With God Every Day

 

I have a confession to make. I have been grocery shopping, for the past nine months that I have lived in Lancaster to be exact, but I still don’t really know how. Everything goes back to the fact that I hate cooking. No, not hate….more like absolutely abhor. I am not one of those girls who has her own apron, or monogrammed kitchen wear, or who saves up for a Kitchenaid mixer. I’m the girl who literally bought Hamburger Helper and was genuinely shocked that the meat didn’t come with it. Personally, I feel victimized by the commercials.

But suffice to say, I hate cooking. I just don’t understand how people enjoy slaving over something for hours, that takes them a few minutes to eat, but a whole night to clean up. Does anyone else think that the science is off on that one? To say that I end up cooking one meal in my crockpot to last me for five days is not an understatement; it’s the life I live.

Let me paint the scene for you when I go into the grocery store. I have a list clutched in my hand, as I try my best to not run into anything or anyone ( a feat that is difficult for someone as accident prone as me), as I zig-zag my way through the aisles desperately trying to find something on my list:

silently praying that I can find the off-brand salad dressing or a package of goldfish crackers, wondering why in the world they keep cool-whip in the freezer section and not in the dairy section, and getting so impatient that I cross off ingredients to my crock-pot meal as I go. I don’t check the prices, when things go bad, or who made them. I grab and push and sweat my way through the grocery store until I collapse in an exhausted heap into my car only to remember I forgot to get the shampoo. Sound familiar?

Now, you might be starting to get embarrassed for me at this point. You may think, Rachel, you can’t talk about how much you hate cooking when you aren’t even married. Or you may be laughing at me because you are Betty Crocker and the fact that I hate cooking is a ridiculous concept to you. But I am hoping there are some of you out there, especially my young adult college grads, that secretly harbor an intense hatred for the grocery store and cooking as much as I do.

I share this with you, not only because I am hoping it will make you chuckle, but because I think we can all relate to going into “grocery-shopping mode” for many things in life. You know the mode, where you don’t really want to do what you’re doing so you just check out for a little bit?

For you, it may be when you go on autopilot talking to your mom. It could be when you are huffing and puffing on the treadmill and are praying to God that it will all be over soon. It could be when you are doing a mundane part of your job, talking to a particularly exhausting friend, or doing something you have done a million times before. You go on autopilot, not always because you know what you are doing, but because you just don’t care enough to pay attention.

And unfortunately, I found a startling resemblance to how I act grocery shopping and my relationship with God.

Because even though I do care about my relationship with God, definitely at church on Sunday morning or talking to my Christian friends, sometimes I go into “grocery shopping mode.” Where I am just trying to check it off my list like items at the grocery store, but I don’t really bother to pay attention to the sell by date or the price. I just go through the motions, sometimes huffing and puffing and wanting to watch Hulu instead, until I’m finished with my devotions for the day and can feel like the good Christian I am.

To explain it better; I want to go through the two parts that I believe encompass going into “grocery shopping mode,” or putting your brain on autopilot. Those are being purposely half-hearted and hoping to get lucky.

Half-Hearted

For being half-hearted, I am talking about all those times we care, but just not enough.  So, for you, that might mean that you do pray every day, but you only pray for as long as it takes your eyes to close each night. You could read the Bible every day, but you just rummage and jump and open to random parts of the Bible each day hoping to be fed. It may be going to a young adult’s group or church every Sunday only to totally tune out while thinking about your mile-long to-do list or secretly beating your Candy Crush score on your phone. We all have certain tasks that we just go into airplane mood for, and unfortunately, when our faith gets stagnant or boring, it can be one of the first things to go.

Hoping To Get Lucky

The other element to “grocery shopping mode” is that I expect to be the rewarded for the shabby amount of effort I have put into it. Because every time I grocery shop, I expect to get the freshest ingredients, great deals, and not spend a lot of time or money. Unfortunately, what I think is victory normally turns into my salad rotting or my milk spoiling two days after I purchased it.

And we can be the same way with God. We can not want to give Him our full attention and our entire life, but we still expect Him to show up. To give us some truth nuggets when we are just rummaging through our Bibles aimlessly. To get a word or feeling from the Holy Spirit when we only pray right before our head hits the pillow. To provide for us, and protect us, and never cause us any harm, even when we don’t love Him as much as our cell phones.

And yes, we are fallen creatures living in a fallen world, but that doesn’t give us an excuse to put God on autopilot. To shrug him off like a cute, but itchy sweater, that we convinced ourselves we will wear one of these days. No, He deserves our full attention, so that He can give us the goodness, grace, and wisdom we need to get through the day. Because if we stop to take stock of our spiritual life when we are in “grocery shopping mode” we can find out that we hearts are rotting like a salad whose sell-by date is expired. And  I don’t want that to be me anymore.

We need to be careful to not turn our precious time with the Lord into something we resent or feel like we have to cross off our Christian checklists. So, how do we do that? And, how can we take our minds off autopilot?

Stick to a Schedule

Guys, I am still figuring this one out. As a full-time worker and just a person who needs an inordinate amount of sleep, who considers herself to be neither a morning or night person, getting in my time with God is a real challenge. But, don’t get stuck believing that you have to do your time with God in the morning, because that is when Jesus did it, or a certain way because that is what your most spiritual friend does.

Take some time this week to think about what you might need to make that happen. Is it a particular time of day, a specific spot, or a particular book or song you need to incorporate into your time? Find what works for you and stick to it.

The Holy Spirit Is a Breeze Not A Tornado

I mean that we have to invite the Holy Spirit to be apart of our lives, or He is not going to come. The Holy Spirit is not like you or  I. He is not going to hunt or chase us down. He is not going to drop a passive-aggressive email or social media post to get our attention.  He is not going to drop hints or leave missed calls on our cell phone. He is just going to leave us alone.

So every day, you need to invite the Holy Spirit into your day. To guide you, and direct you, and to cheer you up when your crock pot dinner burns. We can’t live this life alone, and the only way we can feel God here on earth is through the Holy Spirit. He is a gentle breeze trying to pull us back to God, but if we forget about Him, we are only going to be irritated by the sudden burst of cold, instead of seeing it as an opportunity to draw us towards God.

Love Is 99% Action And The Other .999% Feeling

There are going to be days where you wake up, and the last thing you want to do is read the Bible. There are going to be days you are so angry with God for something happening or not happening in your life. There are going to be days where you feel apathetic and listless, and just bored. But lean in! Those days will not last forever.

Feeling spiritually dry doesn’t make you spiritually inept, it just makes you human. 

So make sure that you realize that God is the God of joy and peace and faithfulness, but He is also the God of pain and sorrow.

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad consider, God has made one as well as the other. ” – Ecclesiastes 7:14

So no matter how you are feeling about God at this moment or tomorrow when you wake up, make time with Him a priority. I hope that the quote below can give you encouragement when you don’t want to crack open your Bible.

The more that you refrain from God, the more mundane time with Him will become. 

Journal

When you are reading God’s word or praying, try writing down your takeaways. Instead of just skimming that chapter again in Matthew or a well known Psalm, really see if there is something there that you haven’t discovered before. Think of the Bible as the ultimate treasure chest, except that you will never stop finding buried treasure. No one has ever read the Bible enough to truly get everything out of it.

And, since we all have such unique gifts, personalities, and circumstances, you never know what verse might stick out to you that wouldn’t happen to someone else. Keep a journal or notebook by your side for those times so that you can remember the unique way that God spoke to you. You never know how many friends and loved ones could benefit from your insight as well.

Pray Anywhere and Everywhere

Especially if you have grown up in the church, it can be easy to think that we can only pray at certain times. Like in the morning or over dinner or on Sunday. That we have to be in our prayer chair with our Bible splayed out in front of us drinking coffee as the sun comes up like the perfect Instagram story.  But friends, that is not true.

We don’t have to be in a special mood, special place, or a special person to pray. 

We can talk to God whenever we want, wherever we want. You can talk to God driving, when you are cooking when you are answering emails at work, and when your stomach is crying out in pain as you do abs at the gym. Now, I am not saying that you shouldn’t set aside a particular time of the day where you really focus in on talking to God. Because if you don’t plan for it, it will never happen.

But, we also need to realize that we can talk to God beyond our perfectly crammed in and timed devotional times.

That He wants to hear from us every second of the day, even when are sick of ourselves. So, here are some of my favorite ways to talk to God during the day.

  • When you shower
  • Brushing your teeth/getting ready in the Am
  • Driving
  • On the elliptical or stair stepper at the gym
  • Running errands
  • Getting your hair done
  • Shopping
  • Doing something mundane at work
  • Cooking
  • Grocery shopping- haha
  • Walking outside

I could go on and on. But the point is, that we don’t have to come to God with our squeaky clean selves dressed in our Sunday bests and at 5 in the morning. We can whisper our need to God as we take in our disheveled appearance in the morning, when the guy in front of us is moving slower than molasses, when we are checking out the other women around us at the gym, or just when we are exhausted and overwhelmed after a long day at the office.

Unlike how we are to God, God never expects us to bring our best, to always be faithful to Him, to give Him our freshest ingredients. He just wants us to come. And when we do come, He will bless us with far more than we deserve.

To wrap up, I hope you learned today two things. 1. That Hamburger Helper does not, in fact, come with hamburger. And more importantly 2. That the God of the universe is just waiting to connect with you on a deeper level today, so are you ready to take your mind off autopilot?