Ah, a new semester. Are you still enjoying the beginning of the school year, or have the worry and stress already set in? For me, it’s a little bit of both.
As much as I love fresh starts, the relief of a new year tends to wear off as quickly as the assignments and obligations stack up. And often, as I try to get done “what has to be done,” I find that my relationship with God takes a priority plunge. Ironically, of course, all the hard work is for nothing if I’m living with “me” (or worry/fear/dreams/grades/someone else) at the center of my life instead of God.
Even if you’re not experiencing priorities problems right now, at some point soon you probably will. We all encounter spiritual highs and lows, but there are definitely things you can do to help manage and prevent the latter. With that in mind, I’d like to share some ideas for ways to get (and keep) your priorities straight.
- identify your potential idols. Pray about them often. Develop ways to spend less time or behave more healthily in these areas. Realize, too, they’re likely not obvious (i.e., in the shape of a golden calf). Martin Luther said on the subject, “to have a god is to have something in which the heart entirely trusts.” Or, in other words: “…where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).
- work on being thankful. If you started every day by taking time to ponder and express thankfulness for the fact that Christ died for you, would you live differently? Try it and see. Try thankfulness with the bad stuff, the little stuff, the mundane stuff. Be thankful on the worst days: especially then. Ann Voskamp, in the excellent One Thousand Gifts, says “…thanksgiving…always precedes the miracle.”
- follow Christ’s example. Judging from the New Testament, Jesus wasn’t too concerned with what he looked like, or what others thought of him. He wasn’t spending his time trying to be better than everyone else at his craft, or trying to get rich. Hardly. We can learn a lot from this. Read it. Imitate it.
- check your messages. Think about from where you’re getting most of your encouragement, your news, your social interaction, your political and social information, your daily attitude. Is it all from Facebook? How much time do you spend learning about God compared to the time you spend learning about the online thoughts of your friends? Often, people don’t realize social media has received an idol-like status in their lives, but the excessive time allotted for scrolling through pictures and messages speaks for itself. It might be helpful, if you’re going to be online anyway, to figure out some ways you can use that time more effectively. Maybe listen to an online sermon a day, or read some thoughtful Bible-centered blogs, or keep up with the news (from at least two different news sources).
- talk about it. Seek a trusted friend or mentor’s perspective on the way you’ve been spending your time. Maybe they’ve noticed something you’ve been missing (or refusing to see), or maybe they’ll just have encouragement to offer. Either way is helpful.
Thanks for letting me share! Please comment with any other ideas, and have a blessed day!
My name is Jessica Journey and I’m a sophomore at Mizzou. I study English, French, and linguistics, so it’s safe to say I’m a logophile. Other favorites include: travel, alternative music, fashion, and gourmet cooking. I blog about life, faith, and whatever’s on my heart and mind at modestexaggeration.wordpress.com.