I am SO happy this was a topic suggested to me by a wonderful reader (Thank you, Zahira!).
Growing closer to God and then maintaining that closeness is something I have, frankly, always struggled with. It's not a 1-2-3 step process. It's an every minute of every day discipline.
Realizing you need God at all moments is like chugging a glass of water after a hard workout - thirst QUENCHED. Once you have that revelation, it seems easy, but making Him a priority every day is where it gets a little tricky. You want to read the bible. You want to spend time in prayer. You want to read faith-based books that point you to God's word. You want to listen to Christian podcasts that encourage you. But then you see a commercial for the new episode of Real Housewives, or a new podcast episode pops up on your notifications and they are interviewing your favorite influencer or business owner. All of these books you've been meaning to read are all of a sudden catching your interest and you've gotta check Instagram RIGHT NOW. See what I'm saying? Distractions are every where! So, what do we do about it? Well, we start breaking those bad habits. We all know they die hard but if you are committed, they will die.
My personal revelation came from MANY arguments between me and my husband. I've always struggled with pride and ego, and you know what they say about marriage enhancing every bad quality you have? Yeah, that's totally true. I had a very hard heart in the beginning of our marriage. It's not that I didn't trust God, it's that I didn't trust my husband to do what I thought what right (which also kinda means I didn't fully trust God, I guess). Whether it was a decision that had to be made, making the bed, when he chose to take a shower - according to me, he did all of it wrong. So, fights broke out enough times, resulting in my husband revealing to me that I have a major pride problem. It was such a problem that he would need to leave our home to collect himself. I know now that pride can create a wall around the heart as dense as steel and only God can soften a heart that hard. I also considered a few things as I was coming down on the high of anger + self-loathing: does my marriage matter more than my sense of pride? Then, does honoring God in my marriage, and ultimately, my life, mean more to me than my inflated ego?
Pride is like a robust, towering tree, each root 10 feet into the ground or ruining any foundation built on it; the branches are different ways your pride shows itself in your behavior, point of view, and how it affects everyone around you. Okay, enough with the metaphors.
So, with that said, you first need to break the habit of - you guessed it - pride, and what is the opposite of pride? HUMILITY.
Come to the Lord with a humble, broken heart. It is when we see our sin as sin that we can truly get down on our knees and ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). We are told to hate our sin, so wash your hands of it and ask the Lord to give you wisdom and self-control (Psalm 97:10, Proverbs 8:13). That's what I'm constantly asking for, anyway. It's so comforting to know that we can go to the Lord just as we are and He will never turn us away. I can't tell you how many times I've just sat and talked to Jesus as if I could see Him sitting next to me. He is our Counselor after all (Isaiah 9:6, John 14:26, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, Matthew 11:28)!
Once you've humbled yourself (you're going to have to do this a lot, by the way), it's time for you to get into God's Word. The more you read the Bible the more you will learn about God and His character, which will make you fall more in love with Him. With that, you will yearn to know more and more and more. With that knowledge it will make it easier to trust, depend, + rely on Him. Things will start making sense to you. I became a Christian at 5 years old, was raised in a Christian home with my second home being church. You'd think I'd have it down by now, but no. I praise God for the foundation I've built my life upon but that doesn't make up for going out on my own and cultivating my own relationship with God. I had to come to this conclusion: I can't play around in the world anymore. What I mean by that is I couldn't continue to have one foot in the world and the other in the Word. You HAVE to choose! There is no in-between with God. You're either in or your out.
Anyway, getting back to reading the Bible - I would start reading the gospel of John. John quotes Jesus throughout the book talking about how much He loves us. It's incredibly humbling and beautiful. It brings tears to my eyes almost every time I read it. It fills you with joy and shows you who Jesus is and why He was sent here to die for us.
Read Psalms, as well. It was written by David when he was being chased by Saul (before he was Paul he devoted his life to killing Christians). David, who God said was a man after His own heart, was running for his life, lamenting as he went, but still chose to see God, trust Him, and praise Him in the midst. It reminds us that no matter what we go through we can ALWAYS rely on God to fulfill His wonderful promises and deliver us from whatever pain/fear/suffering we are enduring.
Read 1 Peter to find out about God's never-ending grace. Peter was a disciple who sincerely loved and believed in Jesus. He walked on water with Jesus! However, he also failed a lot in life and infamously denied Jesus 3 times before he was crucified. Not the best track record, but God showed him so much grace throughout his life. Peter tells us first hand to be sober and vigilant, so that we may be ready for when the enemy attacks. He tells us to submit to God and to our spouses. He tells us that we WERE healed by Jesus' stripes!
There is so much more to learn about God's grace, love, patience, mercy, and character so I suggest you get to reading!
For how to stay close to God, here is a list of things you can do:
- First and most importantly, read your bible every day
- Talk to God every day. He cares about everything!
- Listen to biblically and doctrinally-sound podcasts + sermons
- Continuously ask God for wisdom and discernment for how to live your life a godly way
- Surround yourself with serious God-fearing Christians who hold His word over everything else and who aren't afraid to tell you the truth
- STAY AWAY FROM PSYCHOLOGY/OCCULT PRACTICES - there's nothing wrong with having a Christian counselor/therapist, but doing things like meditation, yoga, sound-healing, living through your enneagram number, or any of that stuff is 100% unbiblical. Plus, running to you psychology to heal is wrong as well. The Lord tells us that if we seek anything else above Him, if we idolize anything/anyone who is not Him, we are in sin. I will be doing a separate post on Christianity and psychology down the line so keep your eyes peeled.
- Try to have constant self-awareness (this will come as you ask God for His wisdom)
- Ask God to convict your heart about any sin you are partaking in
- Don't be a fool. Fools reject wisdom. If someone is correcting you (and it aligns with the Bible) but it's offending you, remember this: even if what the person is saying offends you, be sure to always reflect and ask yourself if there was any truth to their correction/observation. This takes serious humility.
- Run to Him before anyone or anything else.
- If you are having an issue that your non-Christian friends won't understand, do NOT talk to them about it. They will unknowingly steer you towards how the world will handle that issue. Go to your wise Christian friends who you know will be objective, have a biblical perspective, and who will be honest with you.
I hope so much that this advice encourages you to pursue Christ further so that you may know Him in such a way that nothing else in this life will satisfy you. God is for you, He loves you, He wants you to follow Him, He wants to change your heart so that your desires match His. He knows what is best for you because He created you in His image with a plan. God rewards those who diligently seek Him!
Sincerely + with love,
+ Wanna know more about walking with the Lord? Check out my post here about why it's not ok to be a lukewarm Christian
+ Click here to read about how my first 2 years of marriage were and how it taught me how important it is to have a church small group