There’s this cycle I’m noticing in my life. I get overwhelmed, I get tired, I decide that sleep is more important. I place 90 percent of my relationship with God on the 20 minutes before I go to bed. This has been a struggle for me periodically, but especially recently.
When things get hard, I tend to get paralyzed. I know exactly what I need to do, but I physically and mentally cannot do it. That’s what was going on with me. I knew that a relationship with God was not confined to the moments before falling asleep. I knew that it was so much more than that, but I just couldn’t do it.
I went to therapy and shared my frustrations with how I get so tired and overwhelmed that I just decide that I’ve already failed God and that if I come back he’ll probably say something to the effect of “Oh, now you want me.” I know that’s not in the character of God, but that’s what the lies were making me feel. First, her response was, “You’re not that powerful. You can’t change the way that he thinks about you.”
After expressing to her the sleeping situation, she said, “Oh, okay. So, what’s happening is you’re getting mad at yourself for something that you can’t help. If it’s 11 o’clock at night, of course your body wants to go to sleep. You need to find what works for you.” We worked together on a list of things that I felt would be achievable in my current routine that would involve God.
This has been such an important part of my faith journey over the last four years. Find what works for you. I forget it each time I’m paralyzed, and then am reminded of the freedom I have.
It’s hard to refrain from comparing your relationship with God to the girl with the nice Instagram feed, sprinkled with aesthetically pleasing pictures of the Bible and calligraphy. But not everyone’s relationship looks the same. There are no guidelines or rules to what you’re allowed to do to feel close to God.
Personally, I love driving with the windows down and listening to worship music when I feel down. I try to talk to him for a couple of minutes on my walk to work. I’m not that great at sitting and journaling because my thoughts are so scattered and I get distracted. I’ll start worrying about what I have to do tomorrow, or whose birthday is coming next. And that’s okay. God doesn’t fit inside this box. If you feel God and find it a good time to talk to him while you’re cleaning your room, then by all means let that be a tool of yours. If it’s eating acai bowls in the car with a friend, then go for it. If it’s drawing, hanging out with your dog, surfing, cooking, then make that something you try to do once a week.
There is so much more freedom in all of this than we think. You just have to find out what works for you and your lifestyle. God’s so much bigger than Sundays, bigger than the 20 minutes before bed. He just wants to hang out with you, and I know that he wants it to be something that you enjoy, too.
words by Ashley Jesus and photo by Arianna Taralson