So I have periods of peace and calm and assurance, and then I have these times when my mind gets going and I have to really focus to pull myself out of certain ruts. My instinct, I think, is to turn things over in my mind and try to find the solution, to figure out how to make it better. At least make it hurt less. And during the peaceful times, which I am very grateful for, that’s not an issue; those are the times I am praying, keeping my eyes on God, reading Scripture, or am deeply distracted by something else.
But my mind never shuts up so I have to keep a close watch on it. The upside is there is an in-between time where I have been thinking through some things in a good way. I have, for now at least, come up with the following things I want to be working on in the next long, long while – in part due to knowing from my past relationship I have a lot of things that need to be dealt with, and in part due to #8 in this article. These are the things I want to incorporate into myself as thoroughly as possible (or rid myself of as thoroughly as possible).
- Returning to my first Love, God. I have been reading this book about revival that is actually fantastically good teaching, and the author discusses how a lack of obedience to God is due to a lack of love for God. Revival starts with returning to that first Love, to loving God, and making Him a priority again. This is something I’ve felt convicted about for a while recently, and this was strong confirmation. And then I have also been reading some articles about what to do after a breakup, and one thing that stood out in this one is that same principle, returning to your first Love. This is my first priority.
- Learning to embrace my INFJ personality and live it out well. This includes caring for myself properly, doing research and reminding myself of it, going over the things that I was being taught and being diligent in following them. Regardless of how my last relationship ended, I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that so much of what he taught me was true; I sometimes let my reluctance and pride and other bad attitudes stop me from pursuing it then, and I need to do better. I have the archives of most of my conversations with the person who was helping me so much before (not all of them, and I deeply regret not asking for them when I had the chance – I assumed I’d have time, and that was foolish of me), so I will go over them at some point; I just need a little more time to heal before I think that will be a good idea.
- Commit myself to regular Bible study/devotions, prayer, and fellowship and corporate worship. If I’m really honest with myself, I am far more sporadic with all of these things than I ought to be. And I have been for a long time. This goes hand in hand with #1, and God deserves much better from me. He deserves all of me and I know I will never be perfect, but at the very least I ought to be more obedient today than I was yesterday. I know I do better when I start my day with time in the Word; when I pray, when I pray before difficult situations, in difficult situations (this one I’m at least fairly consistent with, although definitely room for improvement), and after; when I go to the Bible to refocus my mind when I find myself spiraling into anxiety or grief or anger or general negativity and bad attitudes; and I know how important it is for me to engage with other believers (of multiple denominations too, I don’t like being in an echo chamber), being under the authority of a pastor, having people in my life I can go to when I need prayer, being accountable, worshipping God along with other believers, etc. When I neglect these things, I cut myself off from sustenance, life that I absolutely need. This must become part of my life, always; not just when times are difficult.
- Tithing. I cross-post these to another site, and I can honestly say I never expected to be writing about tithing there. Tithing is a doctrine I am not 100% convinced is applied accurately in many churches today, but. I know that giving is encouraged and commanded, and I feel convicted in this too. God has been really good to me and blessed my work, so I know that I can afford to give; I am without excuse, and it’s something I feel quite strongly I ought to be obeying God in. This too was mentioned in that revival book.
- No longer neglecting relationships, particularly friendships. In part, it’s been really good for me to take a step back and on occasion cut certain people out of my life; I am learning to recognise, thanks to that person, that there are some unhealthy relationships that have affected me negatively and I needed to deal with them properly. But, as I often do, I swung too far the other direction and neglected some relationships too. I’ve gotten a chance to build up my family relationships this trip home, in a good way. And I am learning to actually balance time around family and time apart – learning, not mastering. I also got more involved in my church this year, and my Bible study group in particular has been a lifesaver, literally. I miss them very much right now, and I can’t wait until we are back together. But I have not done a lot of one on one interaction with my friends here, which I miss and regret; I have the privilege of knowing some very good, wonderful people here and I want to give them the time and attention they deserve, because I really do value them. I want to put back into this community properly again, because getDare has led to two life changing events for me, plus all the friendships, and it’s help me learn and grow and I just…ought to love this community back more. Most of all, I keep veering toward this particular self-pity cycle of lamenting how I can’t talk to anyone about certain things, or I have a few friends who I can talk to about this part but not that part, and I keep catching my mind touching on it briefly these last two days. That’s enough. If I want to have friends in my life that I can trust enough to share the things I wish I could talk about (and stop putting myself into the aforementioned cycle) then I need to build those friendships. And the identification of excuses continues…
- Focusing on a verse/Bible passage when my mind starts to spiral; committing it to memory so I can keep my eyes on God when I need to, when those attacks on my mind come and I need to look to God, call on God, lift up my shield of faith. The passage I chose…not entirely accurate, I believe God chose this one for me because it was in a long list of them and it stood out wonderfully. The passage is Psalm 16:
Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
“They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
or take up their names on my lips.
Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
nor will you let your faithful one see decay.
You make known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
It has been exactly what I’ve needed, different verses at different times of the day, but always, always, always bringing me peace, replacing the negative or distressed thoughts just as I need it…God is good. So for right now, this is my passage, and when I know it by heart and feel it’s time for the next I’ll pick up another.
- Not allowing myself to indulge in self-pity, excuses, or negative thought patterns. If I’m upset about something, I either need to pray and fix it or pray and trust God if I can’t do anything about it. If I can do something and I ought to, then I need to do the mature and wise thing and just do it. This is an obedience issue too, and when I ignore it I risk searing my conscience, which is never good. And when I recognise, by the grace of God, those negative thought patterns, where I am anxious or desolate or whatever, I need to pray, read my Bible, go talk to someone, something other than lay there in despair.
- Keep up with journaling and being brutally honest with myself. I have learned that I can be my own worst enemy and deceive myself. Because it’s easier to believe I don’t have a choice, I’m a victim, I can do nothing but wait it out, than it is to actually work at what I know is not good about myself and my life. Root out excuses. Allow myself to be confused, but not to give up; have faith that God will help me figure this out eventually.
- Stop trying to rely on myself so much; rely on God above all, in faith, asking for grace and peace and all my needs; and rely on others when I need to, balancing this with tempered trust.
- Learn discernment. Study the daylights out of it. Practice it. Stop letting this be a weak spot in my life and making short-lived attempts to deal with it because the going gets tough.
- Take better care of myself overall. No more putting off work and school things so I’m stressed out later. No more eating poorly because I’d rather indulge or save a bit of time, no more avoiding yoga because I don’t like certain poses (I am such a child sometimes, and not in a good way). And no more allowing my living space to become a disaster and also causing myself stress.
- Learn to be me. Learn to not only see but get rid of the things that are not me, no matter how difficult or painful that might seem. Honour that person’s one, simple request he would ask of me; and honour God by being the person He created me to be. (Alternatively, I saw this described as ‘being the person Mr. Rogers knows you could be’ or ‘being the person your dog things you are’.
I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions, but this is how the timing worked out. And as long as these things are on my mind, I wanted to get them down so I don’t forget and so I can hold myself to them.