As the end of the year stares us in the face, now is the time that we begin to think about our plans and goals for the new year. Although my plans have changed, my goals have not. One of the assignments I gave myself was to take a detox. So much has been happening in the news between the tragic shooting of Mike Brown back in August to circumstances in my personal life. I needed some peace and quiet in my life. I know I needed the opportunity to work on my relationship with God and to gain some new perspective that’ll help me stay the course for 2015.
I signed up for this devotional plan called “Soul Detox” on bible dot com. While I don’t talk much about religion here, I completed the plan yesterday with some new clarity that I think anyone can benefit from.
Your actions are predicated on thoughts. Cliches are cliches for a reason. They need to be repeated until you apply them. The first few days of the devotional laid out how we live and die by our words. If your words don’t align with the desire in your heart, your actions will fall short too. You’ll come up with excuses or explanations as to why you’re being held back. You’ll defer to mediocrity because you decide that “good enough” is okay. You have to convince yourself daily that you want something badly enough that you’ll do whatever it takes. “Whatever it takes” is a mindset that can literally create the shift you need to be closer to your proverbial finish line. (Proverbs 18:21)
Identify your strongholds, then release them. Battlefield of the Mind by Dr. Joyce Meyer is a book I’d recommend to anyone who feels like they’re in quicksand with no room to move. In the first few chapters, she spends a great deal of time talking about how we all have strongholds; small mental attacks in the recesses of our minds. They’re usually associated with fear, doubt, or envy. Those strongholds affect your outlook constantly. For me, a stronghold that I had for a long time was about marriage. I thought that maybe I wasn’t the marrying type. I had siked myself out so bad that I was willing to marry the wrong person simply because it would get to the bigger goal of fatherhood. It was essentially a fear of failure. Once I took the time to see how that thought process was problematic, I was able to change my viewpoint about love and marriage as a whole. When you have the insight to know what your weak spots are mentally, you’ll know how to counteract them. (Covered in Proverbs 4 and 2 Corinthians 6:10)
Be careful where you sow and reap. Social media isn’t bad; actually quite the opposite. However, when you spend so much time logged in, you unconsciously carry that stuff with you into your real life. In light of the no-indictment of Darren Wilson, we all will continue to be inundated with people sharing how they feel. That irritation and anger that I’d already felt was exacerbated reading status after status of stupidity. To prevent my otherwise good days from being ruined, I chose to step away. The same thing applies to life. Sometimes we surround ourselves with people who are quietly sowing into us seeds of negativity. You have to disengage with people who speak defeat or try to break your spirit under the guise of “trying to help” or “keepin it real”. You don’t want to be that person who continues to spoil their fruit so to speak. (Romans 12: 9-21, James 3: 13-16)
When I pray without results, sometimes I wonder “man does God even hear me? Does he care?” These are the type of strongholds that are subtle. This is why it’s critical to stay in the word in some form or fashion. Never forget God’s promises. Last week, I tried a new church in VA. And it was 1 of those services where it overwhelmed me by how strong God’s presence is when you need it the most. No matter what you see or what you are experiencing, God never stops working on your behalf. In plain and simple terms, God’s promise is the greater good for those who have abundant faith and seek forgiveness and deliverance (Phillipians 4:6-9, Romans 12: 1-8)
After failures, look for favor. When things go wrong in our lives, we immediately get angry and focus on what didn’t happen. It’s easy to look at the work we put in, the plan we thought was foolproof, and what we saw happening in our head. The thing about failures that we overlook is that they sometimes are protection. When you go an entire 24 hours with no harm coming your way, that’s God’s grace. Harping on failures aren’t going to change the fact that they’re failures. Instead, look at the blessings that you already have.
One of the big-picture takeaways I have from doing this 5 week devotional is that it’s not about being a perfect Christian. That’s impossible. And even if you don’t believe in God, know that life is progression, not perfection.