Have you ever been in a place where you feel like something isn't right but you can't put your finger on it? A place where you are blessed with all the essentials in life but you still feel stuck? That's where I was and still am in some sense. I have all the essentials but I want and need more.
These past few weeks have been spent on self-reflection, clearing my thoughts and getting closer to God. I have to admit that I've had some really big decisions to make concerning the direction of my life and I needed answers from God.
How to Avoid Distractions
This is what I've been struggling with for quite some time and I need this year to be the year that I make ordered steps to change. Therefore, I've decided to eliminate the noise and chaos from my life. In order to hear God's voice clearly and my own inner voice of wisdom, all the distractions had to go and there were several.
TYPES OF DISTRACTION
- Voice of Fear - Always telling me that I can only go but so far because if I step outside of my limitations, I will fail and those around me would label me a failure.
- Voice of Judgment - Every once in a while, I make a mistake and of course I feel guilty but eventually come to a point where I ask for forgiveness, forgive myself and move forward. Unfortunately, this voice always seems to find a way to sneak in and make sure that when I fall, I stay down.
- Voices of the Self-Righteous - People who rarely make an attempt to make genuine connections with persons outside of there cliques but are always ready to condemn. I have such a disdain for this group and I literally get angry when I see or hear them. So much so that I'd allowed their voices to take over my mind space and my dislike for them to turn into bitterness.
- Voices of Demand - Always telling me what I should be doing, pulling me in one direction or another. This was the difficult noise to quiet because of my innate need to please others. I had a really hard time saying no to any request until I realized that I was appreciated for only what I could do but never for who I was. So when I couldn't do what was being asked of me, I was judged as useless or disobedient, looked down on or ignored. This was coming from my church surroundings. It's hard to admit because I do love my church for what it is, but it can be a little difficult and tiring to endure the harshness of the environment. Let's just say hurt people, hurt people but you have to learn to be patient, loving and gracious no matter what type of personality you encounter. Outside of these voices were the voices of family demands. You get the point.
All these voices were crowding my thoughts and fighting for my attention. They had to be quieted by pulling away and drawing closer to God. I took the time to sit down and have some real conversations with God. Let's just say there were very little thees and thou's and a whole lot more "God, I'm not gonna make it if you don't help me". "God, I want to go here, should I go?" "God I'm struggling with this marriage thing, but I don't want to give up, help me". I was asking for a lot because I needed a lot.
I have gotten some answers and I am still waiting for more. Knowing that I am impatient, I believe God is teaching me how to be patient by not answering everything immediately. One thing I did learn is how to quiet the noise so that I can not only hear but hear and understand.
The most important step to take in hearing God's voice is to take a few moments to sit in a room by yourself with no distractions. That means, no cell phone, no television and if you can help it, no spouse or children present. You may have to schedule this time in order to prevent any unexpected distractions.
Secondly, take a moment or two to breath. Don't just jump into a dialogue with God especially if your coming home from a busy day. Your mind is full of all kinds of thoughts collected from events that happened during the day. If you find that your thoughts are a little chaotic and running a muck, It is good practice to slow them down by taking deep breaths and turning your focus towards God. You can repeat a scripture while you breath if that helps to center your thoughts.
Third, begin your prayer with gratitude. Giving thanks for what you do have will bring your thoughts to a positive space and it will also diminish anxiety and any fear you may have of what is currently going on in your life. Your faith will increase because you will begin to remember all the times that God has come through for you in the past. From this point, you can go into whatever direction you feel necessary. Let your conversation be natural and earnest. It doesn't have to be filled with big words and I truly advice against this type of prayer. A sincere and pure heart is what God desires most, even when the words are not eloquent. Sometimes you may not be able to find the words to say, but God sees your heart so be patient and let the Spirit guide you.
Lastly, and most importantly. Stop and listen. Effective communication is a dialogue, not a monologue. Allow time for the Lord to speak to your heart. This requires patience and an attitude of expectation. You have to expect to hear his voice or you will not hear anything at all, even when He is actually speaking. Being able to speak to God and having him speak to you is the epitome of living a victorious life because he knows all, sees all and can do all. So there is no doubt that what he say to you in you quiet time with him will come to pass. That alone should give you hope, confidence and peace of mind.
As I continue to practice taking quiet time with God, I am a little more centered and a bit wiser. I've come to appreciate the journey that I'm on and I'm looking forward to crossing the finish line.
Until next time,
Live in gratitude. Live in love.