Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Connecting with God: Practice

The simplest idea I've had lately that relates to connecting with God is this: the more I do it, the better it'll get. Not that the lows will be eliminated, but I'll handle them better, maybe even recover from them faster or with more grace? I don't even know how it will be better, I just know it will be. 

I know this because of what it's been like doing yoga. I started out putting in one hour of practice per week. A month or so later, I added a second day. Six months after I started, I was practicing three times a week and now I go four. Some months, I get really ambitious and do a daily challenge, which means I do a little yoga even on days I don't go to the studio. (If you're curious or would like to find a challenge to join, I'm doing one on Instagram this month to celebrate my birthday.) So fun.

But here's the point. I can do things now that I never could before - never even hoped to do. What kinds of things feel like downright fantasies when it comes to connecting with God? I'd like to go a whole morning with an awareness of her presence. I dream of wondering first what is God thinking of this thing I'm doing (instead of wondering what my friends or random strangers think.) Or just basking for a whole day in his approval without slipping into doubt where I think he's giving me the side-eye. Not feel ashamed when I realize I've spaced her out for a huge chunk of my day. Feel my knees go week because he's so good and so real

And here's where hope is dawning. Maybe ALL OF THIS is possible if I don't accept my ebb and flow of committed time with her. This habit has never taken root to the extent I've wanted it to and I think it's because I haven't approached it like yoga. A college teacher told me the best way to build a habit is starting so small it seems stupidly easy, but actually guarantees your success. From there, you gradually add on, always erring on the doable side, until you're where you want to be. After building up from oh, so easy, I know I'll do yoga the rest of my life. If I miss it a couple days, I crave it and know I need it. I want it, so it no longer sounds fun to skip. I so want this to be true with my God time.

I feel a little silly that I haven't used this approach with something so important to me, but I think that's what screwed me up. I felt like this was SO important - so urgent, I couldn't wait to ramp things up slowly. I needed daily time, every day, yesterday! So I'd plunge in trying to do what I hadn't taught myself to do and poop out when life got busier or my schedule changed around or when my hovering got discouraging. Well, not anymore.

I started itty-bitty a few months ago. In addition to the chapter-ish I'd read each week to be ready to discuss at church, I added a ladies Bible study. This may sound like a nightmare to you (I love Jesus, but it did to me,) but it's turned out to be time I look forward to. There's only three of us, reading a book and then getting together to watch a video and discuss every other week. That's my step. I told myself, "It's like adding one more hour of yoga." 

And here's the other thing. Every day at yoga isn't awesome, but you never lose ground. You put in the time, you give it your all and change happens. So I'm putting in the time, giving it my all and letting my God time be exactly what it is or isn't each time. I'm accepting the fact that I will be on it some days - firing on all cylinders and other days I'll feel like my brain's made of peanut butter. But I will still practice. I'll show up and let God worry about the quality of our time, the rate of my progress and all other things I have no control over. If he doesn't seem to be in a hurry, I'll try to cool my jets. When I stop freaking out about how effective all of this is, I can start to enjoy myself and then I might actually want to come back. 

For more time. 

And more. 

P.S. Here's a Pin-friendly photo too. :)

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