Most of us have high hopes for the New Year. Every year. We start thinking about it sometime before Thanksgiving, or any time we have a twinge of guilt or hope about a change we want. And we envision what our lives would be like if that change were made.
One of the twinges is often some sort of desire to have a closer relationship with God. But what would that really look like?
Reading through the Bible in a year?
Half hour of morning devotions, six days a week?
Praying for a specific person or situation till there is a breakthrough?
I spent many years wanting to do the right thing. I was truly intending to set appropriate goals and keep them, but usually I found myself falling short of my dreams and pinning my hopes on the next year.
Then I found 2 simple practices and 1 overarching truth that changed everything, including me.
Practice #1:Look for something(s).
When you read the Bible – look for something, or more than one thing. I found that when I read If I am looking for specific things it changes my reading. When I’m intentionally looking for something, my reading is completely different. I’m more alert and even excited to read.
Here’s how it works. First I decide what I am going to be looking for and then I assign a color to each item. For instance:
- Word pictures are blue.
- God’s character qualities are yellow.
- Personal words are orange.
- Anything to do with lies and truth are pink.
- Coaching concepts are green.
Other ideas include: Verses on justice, Keys to Prayer, Promises, Names of God, and the list could go on and on.
For me, this simple focus tip changed the way I read. I’m excited, thorough and look forward to what I will find.
Practise #2: Micro Journal
This hack was a game changer for me and it’s oh so simple.
Each morning before I get out of bed I journal for just a couple minutes. Most days it’s just 5 words or phrases and takes only a minute or two. I use little symbols as prompts.
Asterisks for things I am thankful for, hearts for things I am looking forward to, exclamation points for things that I need to accomplish, upward arrows for prayer requests and occasionally a question mark for something that is puzzling me.
So, in the morning there is usually 3 asterisks, 1 heart and an exclamation point. Starting the day out choosing to be thankful has been so helpful for me, as well as choosing one thing I am looking forward to and deciding one thing to prioritize.
In all honesty, for me it has been best to have to write the one thing I am looking forward to. That has helped me to slow down and intentionally enjoy my life. Some days it’s just a simple perspective choice to see what it already around me, and some days I build something fun into my day that likely would not have been there had I not been intentional.
I journal again right before I go to sleep, but change it up a bit. There are 3 upward arrows, 1 exclamation point and a heart.
It’s comforting to write out my concerns and purposefully give them up to God before I sleep. Some days the accomplishments or joys are different than the morning choices for various reasons and the reflection helps me deliberately acknowledge God’s presence in my life.
Both the color coding and the micro journalling have transformed my life. Not because I have developed habits, but because these hack practices have connected my heart with my life.
Loving God intentionally through these habits has helped me be more in touch with who I am and how I am doing as well as Who He is and what He is offering.
And I am grateful.