The problem with this is that sometimes, trying harder just won't cut it. Willing oneself to be better and actually being better are two very different things. So when it comes to my relationship with God, just trying harder normally isn't going to work. I mean, why should I expect it to anyways? My faith is not based on my works, but yet my human side wants to tell me that I just have to keep trying and it'll all be better one day.
A couple posts ago, I told you all about my nightmares. Well, I am happy to say, they are still gone and it's amazing! But, if you read the post, you know that it wasn't by something I did. For years, I tried to say fancier prayers to make them go away. I tried to make sure I didn't watch scary movies. I tried to make sure my thoughts before bed were happy thoughts about rainbows and butterflies (judge me all you want, but I was told rainbows and butterflies make for good dreams). My trying harder just made things worse. Because by trying harder, my ultimate goal was to stop having nightmares but I was so focused on getting rid of the nightmares that essentially all I thought about was the nightmares. That was convoluted, I know, but what I'm saying is that by trying to not think about the nightmares, that's all I ended up thinking about. I began to fear the night. I began to fear the dark.
After years of nothing working to one day them being gone (read my post from early July if you're confused), it made me start to think about how many other things am I trying harder at that are really going no where. My next thought was my time with God, that's what. No matter how hard I tried--set aside a time each day, choose a place, buy a journal, pick a devotional, etc.--nothing worked. I would do my bible study for a day or two then miss a few weeks and/or months. I was so inconsistent. Then, I would get mad at myself, make a plan, then mess up again. It was a constant and endless cycle of trying harder and failing.
The thing that changed it all was when I discovered God for who he really is and when I found a love for him that was so overwhelming I just had to know more about this God that I serve. I was at a place where I was stagnant with God. I knew I was loved by him and I knew I loved him, but nothing was really changing. In Vegas, I discovered who God really is and why he loves me so much. I felt unworthy up until this point--always wondering why God would want to use me. I'm selfish, annoying, conceited, and a whole lot of other things. But, God loves me. He loves me for all of those things but also because I'm compassionate, kind-hearted, loving, and the list goes on.
Discovering who God is isn't hard, it just takes you opening up to what God has to say to you. My problem before the Vegas trip was that I was so busy and consumed with my life that I never stopped to listen to God. In Vegas, we were given a few hours of free time per day plus a couple hours of worship. In that time, I was able to sit and listen to God. I was able to read scripture and I had time to meditate on it. My view of God changed when I had time to sit and listen to Him and to meditate on what He had to say in his Word and through others.
So, if you find yourself stagnant with God and possibly even wondering if God is still there for you, I challenge you to take a week and seek God, and, I mean really seek God. Listen to him. Take more than 20 minutes to read your Bible. Choose a chapter or book in the Bible, read it, and meditate on it. Sit there and meditate on it. Spend time talking to God and thanking him for who he is. Take the time to not ask God anything but instead praise him for who he is. I promise, you won't be disappointed. "Knock and the door will be opened to you..." Matthew 7:7