Developing your relationship with God can be pretty challenging, especially if you’re the first in your family to embark on such an amazing journey. I want you to know that you are not alone in your struggles and experiences. All of us have faced challenges in this area, and we are willing to help you. I gave my life to Christ at the age of thirteen and that journey came with its highs and lows because I didn’t have any relatives within my immediate family that could help me grow spiritually. You don’t have to walk alone. Here are three effective tips that helped with my spiritual development. I pray they help you too.
1. Set a specific time to spend with Him.
Spending time with God is sometimes overlooked in the lives of many Christians, but this is where we draw all of our strength from as believers. Remember, ‘We cannot draw from an empty well’. John 4: 4-26 describes Jesus’ meeting with a Samaritan woman at a famous well in Sychar, a well known town in Samaria. The specific verses I want you to pay attention to are John 4:13-14 (NIV). It reads: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life”. This special water that Jesus was referring to is made available to us each time we spend a moment in God’s presence. This special water is what you need to develop your relationship with God; it also helps you when you are struggling academically, spiritually, emotionally, romantically or when you are facing trials in your very own home.
When can I find time to spend with God?
This depends on how much you are willing to make it a priority. You must be realistic with yourself. If you know that you have trouble completing tasks at night after a long day with your children, or after completing assignments for work or school, don’t plan to spend time in God’s presence at night. If you’re a morning person and you’re able to seek God early in the morning, do that. If for some reason, during the middle of the day, you’re truly able to have a moment with God, do it. Do what works best for you!
Honestly look at your schedule and plan accordingly. Determine if you are spending too much time in an area of your life that truthfully does not really deserve all of that focus. Have you been spending too much time on social media, for example? The special time that you’re having with just you and God can include praying, reading your Bible, journaling and/or listening to worship music. How you choose to spend the time can vary; the key is to make time to do it.
2. Be mindful of what you consume socially and for entertainment purposes.
Be aware of what takes place in your social environments. Are you in an environment that is conducive for your spiritual growth? Are you in an environment that will weaken your spiritual development? Sometimes we tell ourselves: “Hey I’m a big girl, nothing going on around me is going to hinder my walk with God.” But we both know that isn’t true. Make a list of the places you frequent regularly, both in cyber space and back when outside was open, and truthfully decide if you need to step back from a few of your favourite spots. You may need to change direction, literally, in order to align yourself with all that God has for you; one of those special things being a sincere, pure and genuine relationship with Him.
In terms of entertainment, we all know that we lovveee a new series on Netflix. I know that I do! Netflix, has some really good shows, but sometimes the shows or movies have far too much obscene language and too many sex scenes. Last semester, I started watching a few Spanish series on Netflix. Spaniards tend to be very passionate so the episodes had some intense sex scenes. I didn’t want to skip through them too much, because I was afraid that I would miss various parts of the episode. What I should have been afraid of was what those sex scenes were about to do to my spiritual well-being. After completing a few of those series, lust began to rage within me strongly. The feelings were stronger than I’ve ever felt before, and I had to diligently seek God to put out that fire! I’m a single woman so out of the ordinary, extra sexual desires were not going to cut it for me. Now, if I’m watching any series, as soon as it looks like a sex scene is about to start, I start skipping, and maybe you should too.
Back to obscene language. Words that we hear frequently can easily become a part of our daily speech. That’s how babies learn to talk: they begin to reiterate words that they hear. Similarly, we are prone to repeat words that we hear often without even noticing it. Try to avoid shows and movies (and even people!) that use excessive profanity or that influence you in a negative way.
3. Do not condemn yourself.
Do not condemn yourself after you make a mistake. You’re learning. Back to the example with babies. When they’re learning how to walk they make several missteps before they’re able to walk on their own, and even after they grow and mature a bit, they still trip sometimes. Be patient with yourself, enjoy each step of your journey as you grow and become a better servant of God. Remember Romans 8:1 (NIV): “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”, and Proverbs 24:16 “for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again”.
Be patient with yourself, enjoy each step of your journey as you grow and become a better servant of God.