A lot of people think their spirituality is like wearing a t-shirt. I think our spirituality should be more like a good skin care routine.
Think of getting dressed in the morning. You pick out your favorite t-shirt and throw it on. Essentially your outfit is nothing more than a simple statement that tells others something about you. It is not something that you don’t have to give much thought to throughout the day. It is something you own, but not something that needs much ownership. Every now and then you will wash it and put it back in the closet for another day.
For some, this is spirituality. It is simply a label thrown onto their lives. Essentially, it is a simple statement that perhaps tells others something about them. It is not something that they give much thought to throughout the day. It is something they own, but not something in which they take ownership. Every now and then they may talk/think about it but then they shelve it, back in the closet for another day.
In contrast, a good skin routine is something that evolves and changes over time, usually as a person gets older. Think of the progression from teenager to adult. Many teenagers don’t even realize they should wash their faces. (No offense to any teens reading this. 🙂 …just wash your faces.) After some time, when they start breaking out, they get their hands on Neutrogena or Clearasil because that’s what they’ve seen on TV. Once out of college they realize there are better face washes out there and they also discover exfoliating and moisturizing. A little bit later they might be gifted the Clarisonic, which is pure heaven. And eventually they will land on the realization that their skin needs lots of love and care in which they will dive into the world of eye creams, night creams, toners, face masks, and so much more!
(Can you tell I’m talking from experience?)
A good skin care routine is practiced over a long period of time. It has next steps and is something in which you develop a vested interest. It must be put into practice every day and there must be continual effort if you desire to see the benefits.
(Caveat: If you don’t practice good skin care, I’m not judging. You do you. This is simply an analogy. Just roll with it. 😉 )
Our spirituality should look like this. Not stagnant, but ever growing. It should be practiced every day and with thoughtful consideration. The more vested we become in our faith, the more we should continue to engage and seek growth. We start off with Walmart brand daily cleanse and we should end up with the blue sea kelp wonder face set. Because the better we care for our spiritual lives, the more we begin to see the benefit and the results.
How do we get there?
Three Ways I Practice and Grow in my Faith
I identify areas in my life in which God desires to work. Sometimes these are easy to know, like when I’ve done something wrong. (Sin.) However, I love the story that a mentor of mine tells. She was sitting with a man who really never engaged in spiritual practice or with God. He was somebody who many would quickly label as a sinner. As she talked with him, instead of her identifying the areas that God might want to change in him she simply encouraged him to ask God what God would want to say to him. This man took her up on her challenge and when they met again the next week his words were, “God said I am okay.” I imagine what God desired to do in that man’s life in that moment was to let him to know his true identity – a child of God.
The work that God will do in each of us will look different. Sometimes the work will be an outpouring of love, a building up, a healing, or a restoration. Sometimes the work will be a pruning, a correction, or a teaching moment. Sometimes the work will ask us to simply receive gifts that God has for us. Sometimes the work will ask us to make a change.
None of this can happen if we don’t know what God wants to do. Personally I identify these areas by praying and asking God to speak, waiting in silence (listening), and writing down things that come to mind. Last week I was praying about a conflict I had with a specific person. I believed that God was asking me to forgive this person for how she had offended me. I sat in silence (after I prayed) and these words popped into my head, “She wants to be on your team.” I had never had that thought before. As simple as it was, it gave me a new perspective on how to love and include this person. God desired to do a work in me and in this relationship, but I would have never been able to identify it had I not sat down in prayer and in silence.
When I know the area God desires to grow me spiritually, I must engage back. For me, in the above story, I believe God was asking me to change my practice of excluding the person who I had to forgive. Growing spiritually for me right now looks like honoring God by inviting this person to be on my team.
Engaging can be a million different things.
- Forgiving somebody
- Changing a behavior
- Accepting a new truth about God
- Reading the Bible
- Asking God to show you his love
- Receiving God’s love
- Waiting- allowing God to work
- Waking up in the morning and saying, “I’m here God. What do you have for me?”
To be honest, I don’t know what engaging for you will look like. God may want you to simply wake up in the morning and say, “I believe that today God loves me.” God may want you to practice resting, focusing on being rather than doing. God may want you to take all your money and give it to the poor. God may want you to act kindly to the person in your life who is a total bung-hole. I don’t know, I’m not God. I can suggest things, but it would be better to ask God.
In order to grow I have to join with a community of people who are committed to similar things. The church.
The church in my life continually helps me practice engaging with God. They are a people walking the same path with the same desire for growth. They support and encourage, pray and show-up, celebrate and challenge. The church gets such a bad rap at times, but there is so much beauty in what God designed the church to be. The church is a group of people walking together, pursuing God and his mission for this world and for every day life.
Today I invite you to give more thought to your spirituality, to your faith. T-shirt or skin care? God knows you, loves you, created you for good things. If you desire to mature in your faith I encourage you practice next steps. What can you identify, how can you engage, where can you participate?
Comment below, and let’s talk about it!