Any one who has spent time in the mountains will tell you that a raging storm can come upon you unexpectedly fast. Storms are inevitable but how you ride them isn’t. In comparison, it’s no different to the way we live the Christian life. Storms will come, but we can be prepared. Today, I’d like to show you four simple solutions to help you deal with four destructive habits that often harm us in the storm.
2016 was a hard year for me. A significant number of people in my family became very ill. The Church I lead underwent a tough transition which ,to say the least, was challenging. A lot of people had left and some of those who remained were struggling. Because of changes in our personal circumstances, our finances took a number of hits which meant we had more money going out than coming in every month. I then experienced a number of injuries and sicknesses which, although minor, felt like the last straw when stacked together.
Pressure came from all directions, and for the first time since I had started my Christian adventure I felt exhausted and wanted to give up. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I never had a bad day before then. Believe me, I have experienced plenty. But this time the storms were unrelenting, coming thick and fast. I woke up, day after day, but nothing changed and the more time I spent in that awful despair the worse the storms got. I then realized, (I’m sure God had a hand!) that I had developed a number of bad habits which contributed to my misery.
- I spent much less time hanging out with God, praying, and reading the Word. The few fleeting minutes I did spend with Him were filled with the distractions of social media, email, the news or my own grumbling.
- I was spending more time listening to those who were also struggling which was causing me to feel more negative. Now this is not always an easy situation to fix. Many of my close friends and family were going through very difficult times and I believe wholeheartedly that we need to spend time supporting one another.
- I constantly replayed all the negative things buzzing around in my mind: this faith walk is too hard. I want to give up. I’m helpless. What’s the point? These were all the statements of my unbelief and surprise surprise they damaged my faith in a good outcome.
- I distracted myself from the storms by spending every evening sitting in front of the TV or endlessly surfing social media, wearing myself out with a constant barrage of predominately negative and often depressing information.
Now, the first step in finding a solution is to discover the problem. If you have found the problem, you are already one step closer to your breakthrough! You can‘t always do anything about the external pressures, but you can change your negative habits. Let me share my solutions to the negative habits above:
- I purposefully set aside some un-distracted time with God every day. I gave thanks for the good things and read the Word. Only then did I start to pray for all these situations I found myself in.
- I started to share my time with those who built my faith. I hung out with friends who encouraged me. All of us need to find the voices that can speak in to our lives to build us up and encourage us. I listened to positive messages online which spoke life into me. I read books that declared truth to me and renewed my hope.
- I changed the record! I began to spend a couple of minutes, a couple of times a day, thinking about the good things God had done in my life.
- I refused to feed on negative news. I began to save my capacity for those who needed my support. If I watched the TV, I tried to watch an up-lifting program or film. If I looked at social media, I would stick to the encouraging messages and the posts that made me laugh. I also took time each day to have some quieter moments, to read a book, go for a walk or to sit with a good coffee and just hang out with God.
Life isn’t always smooth sailing, and contrary to popular opinion neither is the Christian adventure. But the storms that come are much more bearable when we replace bad habits with good habits. Maybe one day we will be able to sleep through them like Jesus did, although even He got woken up by His friends who were struggling 🙂
Have you discovered some good habits that have helped you through the storms of life? Do leave a comment below. If you found this article helpful, please let me know either through a comment here or via Twitter, Facebook or email. Also, feel free to share this blog with others so they can be helped too. Don’t forget to sign up with your email so you can have my latest newsletter sent straight to your inbox.