Over the years of being a Christian, I have come to realise that there is really only one important thing, and that is to know the will of God, then do it.
This seems to be both the simplest thing to do and the hardest. Why? Well, I tend to get in my own way a lot. I have heard the problem of sin/evil being expressed as knowing what is right, but choosing otherwise. While this is a gross oversimplification I know that, for me, it contains a few grains of truth.
As I reflect on this I see that over the past few months, some things stand out. One is, that once stress reaches a certain level, I tend to have a gravitational pull towards doing things that are usually self-indulgent and not overly helpful for my long-term future. I just need to look down to realise that I can’t see as much of the floor as I used to – especially as two months ago I reached the highest weight I’ve ever been! This is something I want to keep in check, as there are so many health complications around weight and my own father suffered from so many of them. For me, I know I feel more tired, and have less energy for work, my kids and my wife. This leaves me with a sense of loss, as I want to be present and engaged in all of those things. I have noticed I have been more snippy at my kids and less likely to listen to them and hear what is going on. It is more ‘my way or the highway’ than trying to get us on the same highway and figure out how we can get to where we want to go. I’ve also been on my computer and looking at screens more and feeling less motivation to engage with anything because I can’t be bothered.
My relationships at work and with my family and others are extremely important to me. But I’m actively doing things that I know will create a more difficult environment for me to actually be the father, husband and friend I want to be.
So what does this mean? Well, to a certain degree, we all live in a fallen world and we still live with the consequence of sin, even though in God’s eyes it is dealt with. So, we can beat ourselves up – and I’ve been pretty good at this. The problem is that this usually feeds the feelings and thoughts that lead me back to doing the things that are not helpful. Or, we can deal with the reality of our imperfections and figure out what is important to us.
Figuring out what is important to me is a process. God has a story for each of us to live out and finding that story is what is important. The good news here is that it is built into us. We each have our own gifts, abilities and talents. All God asks of us is to quieten the noise inside and search for him and his purpose. The way I connect, listen and pray, is through journaling, breathing deeply and watching out for the things that change the way I see the world. I think being open to seeing things being changed, is very important. Reading the Bible, and talking to other Christians, is also very helpful.
I’m currently running a Fathers’ group that goes for 8 weeks, and part of that is participating while facilitating. And through that God has prompted me to listen to my kids. I know that I’m falling short of where I’d like to be for them and so, as this is very important to me, it is something I’m working on.
I’d like to encourage you to ‘have a listen’ – to tune out the noise of the everyday and see if you can hear what God might be prompting you about. Maybe it will take a walk in nature, maybe a day off, maybe something creative – or anything else that puts you in a space where you are present and more able to tune into God’s promptings. In my experience, I’ve always had the greatest revelations about life in those times.