I have been reading Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero (thanks to Nancy’s recommendation!) and it’s rocking my Christian faith of 26 years. The message behind the book is to help us understand that we don’t just need good spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible study to know God, but that we need to address our emotional health as well. At first, I thought this book didn’t apply to me. Reading my Bible isn’t for show. I truly know I need Jesus. My outsides don’t feel vastly different from my insides and my spiritual disciplines are not just about checking something off a list.
But as I kept reading, I started to realize that as much time as I sunk into prayer and reading my Bible, I have been missing out on a minute by minute connectedness with God. It’s been incredibly hard to explain. What does connectedness even mean? And how does it get deeper than prayer and studying the Word?
One example of how this truth looked in my own life. Worry. My husband called me out. For as much time as I spent doing all the spiritual things, worry still consumes me many days. I really didn’t like hearing this. Especially because I do find peace from God as I get to know Him through Scripture and prayer. That is actually precisely the moments that squash my fears. But as I’ve let this thought sink in and have read more of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, I understood what he meant.
The other night, I felt fear creep in and suddenly the thought hit me – Jesus is right here in my midst. I don’t need to be afraid. It was a simple thought, but it freed me. It wasn’t DOING anything, like reading truth or praying, that gave me peace but simply BEING in the presence of God.
And this is when I realized it. I want to live right here. I want to BE with God. Friends, DO NOT hear me say this means reading my Bible and prayer is overrated. These are of course a part of it! I was just seeing how I was stopping just short of something amazing!! Scazzero said:
The reason we need to stop and be with God is so we might create a continual and easy familiarity with God’s presence at all times – while working, playing, cooking, taking out the garbage, driving, visiting friends, as well as during worship, prayer, and Bible study…We know we have found our balance when we are so deeply rooted in God that our activity is marked by the peaceful, joyful, rich quality of our contemplation.
I was getting a fresh understanding of praying without ceasing and what it looked like was going through my day including God in it all. I have heard worry defined as temporary atheism. It’s in those moments we don’t factor God into our circumstances or future. I have tons of moments of temporary atheism throughout my day. And this deep intimacy of being with God was the opposite of all that.
You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11
Ever since Yuris shared this verse on Instagram a few days ago, I have been reading and rereading. “In your presence there is fullness of joy.” This excites me. This. This is exactly what I was experiencing. Don’t get me wrong. I have experienced plenty of joy in God’s presence. But there was a fullness that was new to me.
So why am I not experiencing this all the time? Scazzero says God speaks to us through the day and calls this “sowing of seeds”. He says:
Our problem is that many of these seeds are “snatched away immediately” or die prematurely due to external pressures or our absorption with other interests and concerns (Mark 4:1-20). Most of these seeds are lost because we do not pay attention.
I spend precious real estate of my thoughts on to-do’s, seeking comforts, scrolling through social media, tending to MY goals and caring more about temporary things like my wardrobe, my too-thick thighs and even food.
And here’s the phrase that God pressed on my heart: I distance myself from the cross.
I am distancing myself from this notion that God in heaven sent his only son to die on the cross for ME. If I kept this thought front of mind, how much of my everyday worries or discouragements would be wiped away? If I was rationally thinking about the enormous gift of eternal life, would I really be so upset when things don’t go my way? We KNOW that all those things we choose to set our hearts on instead pull us away from this truth. We’ve heard Proverbs 4:23 enough right?
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. – Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
But maybe I wasn’t really understanding how clearly this world tries to separate me from a connectedness to God that would revolutionize our thought life, the way we loved others and the way we saw ourself.
Friends, if you are spending more time on social media than you are with the Father, is it any wonder that we spend our time worrying instead of trusting God? I’m bearing the brunt of that truth y’all and not point ANY fingers except to myself. And I’m not going to bash the new Instagram stories (I was using it a few nights ago!) but I am utterly overwhelmed at how much of my attention it feels like the outside world wants to take from me.
Within one social media app, people can reach me two different ways at the very same time. Let’s not let it be something that further puts distance between us and God. I want to be snuggled up next to the cross and the reality that it brings to my life. When I hold any shred of information up next to the reality of the cross, I am able to see it rationally.
A small example even as it relates to social media: When I wrestle with thoughts that I MUST be on every platform for the sake of having a successful business, I’ve forgotten the reality of the cross. The reality is that the God who cared enough to send His Son to save my life for eternity cares about my days here on earth too. He is my provider. This is HIS business anyway and if He wants to grow it without any social media at all He surely can. And because the answer isn’t the same for everyone, if I’m in this deep communion with Him, I can better determine what He wants for me.
If you have been a Christian for long and feel like you never experienced the fullness of joy in God’s presence, I would definitely recommend this book (based on the first 50 pages! I’ll share if my recommendation changes.)! There’s obviously no magic in these pages, but it’s opening up my eyes to so many things that I feel like aren’t addressed as often. Honestly, this concept is hard for me to fully grasp and I’m excited to keep learning more and would love to hear your thoughts!!