One of the biggest things in my life that distances me from having an intimate and trusting relationship with God is restlessness. Over the past two months I have once again gotten into a mindset that it’s never fun enough, it’s never easy enough, it’s never fast enough. It is a spirit of discontentedness and it makes it almost impossible to hear, trust and follow after God’s own heart.
Then I had an epiphany the other day: this summer on my forty-day backpacking trip I had finally shed that mindset, and oh how free I felt! I knew then that I have to get that mindset back. I thought about how thankful I was for the littlest things at the end of a long day of hiking with a heavy pack. One time in particular I remember thinking the juice from a can of tuna tasted like the nectar of Eden. That’s right folks—TUNA JUICE. A few weeks ago I had a Mac n’ Jacks (my favorite beer that’s brewed in the northwest, and quite possibly just flat out, my favorite beer), and I think I enjoyed it about as much as I would a glass of spoiled soymilk.
As I’ve investigated the source of this discontentedness I’ve found that three factors have played a part in it. The first is that I have been excessive in partaking of the things that are special to me in life; this makes them not special. I mean it’s not an organic chemistry test– having a couple microbrews almost every night while I wind down is exactly why the Mac n’ Jacks tasted ordinary while I shot some pool with my friends. Going to wing night every Wednesday makes eating the last one seem more like a chore than an accomplishment. Watching Netflix every night instead of reading doesn’t help me truly relax when I do it. Not to mention it makes me a pretty piss-poor excuse for an English-lit major.
The second reason for my restlessness is because I wasn’t winning another key battle of mine: my laziness. When you’re not being productive to an honest level of satisfaction with yourself through the week, you’re not going to enjoy the time you get to be unproductive because you don’t feel like you’ve earned it.
For me to feel productive each week there are some very tangible battles I can win. I’m trying to emphasize simple, tangible things we can do in our lives to grow closer to God, because if not, in our culture we get easily overwhelmed. For me tangible battles against laziness are things like working out 3-4 times. Making my own meals and eating out less. Keeping my room clean. Doing a couple blog posts. Getting the coffee ready the night before. Getting to bed before one and waking up before nine. Budgeting my money.
Again, this stuff isn’t like doing Chinese algebra. It is simple, but at the same time it’s not easy to follow, especially when you don’t develop them as consistent habits. You can’t do it on your own. You have to rely on God.
The more I go through life, the more I realize that you have to be in constant communication with him. This doesn’t just mean praying for ten minutes in the morning; in addition to that you have to constantly be chatting with him throughout the day, and for me especially, throughout the night. It doesn’t always have to be deep and complex. Sometimes just finding a way to remind yourself that God is present with you can be an extremely effective method for fighting your battles.
A lot of times I find a good way to stay in communication with him is to be thankful. Which brings my to the third source of my discontent: I have been living an entitled life– a life of ingratitude. Just doing things like praying before meals, thanking him for music when a bitchin’ song comes on your shuffle, praising him that I have the physical ability to go for a run: these all develop a thankful mindset and keep you from feeling entitled and discontent. I’m sure my Uncle Beej—a quadriplegic, and has been for almost 40 years—would kill to go for a 15-minute jog. How’s that for perspective Charlie you spoiled little prick?
The more you train yourself to have God on your mind, the more you start thinking outside your selfish self, and the harder it is to disobey him. The Holy Spirit speaks to us, more often than not, in a whisper. And if you’re not listening closely, you will always take the advice of your deafening pride, which is right about the time when you start getting yourself into trouble and start thinking that everyone else is the enemy. When this happens you don’t even realize your biggest one is the face you look at in the mirror every morning; and when that happens, you have been snared by one of Satan’s most classic traps: there’s nothing wrong with me, there’s everything wrong with everyone else.