Establishing Spiritual Habits
We're excited to have our friend Megan Rogg share her journey establishing the habit of spending regular time with God. Megan serves on staff at Soma Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is also pursuing a degree in biblical counseling from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. She strives to live life in motion, whether that means going on casual bike rides, running marathons, traveling across the globe, or excitedly jumping out of her seat while watching a Butler basketball game. She also enjoys the stillness of a deep conversation over a hot cup of herbal tea.
When I was a senior in college, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Tasmania, Australia. It was truly the experience of a lifetime. Up to that point my time at Butler had been pretty demanding between classes and extracurriculars, so this was my opportunity to focus on carefree adventures and immersion in a new culture. I filled my time exploring Tassie with my new friends, learning to drive a manual car on the left side of the road (...and trying to stay alive when driving said car on the wrong side of the highway and stalling twice) and enjoying the local cuisine: Tim Tam slams.
Transitions can throw everything off.
My lifestyle changed quite a bit over those four months. It wasn’t bad, but it was different. When the semester was over, adjusting back to American culture was quite challenging. Why? Because so many of my habits had changed. I had to readjust my everyday rhythms to keep up with the pace and responsibilities of my life in America.
This is a pretty extreme example of transition in my life. It is not every day that you move across the world and back again. However, I have found that transitions, large or small, have a significant impact on my daily habits and routine. Anyone else feel completely out of it the week after daylight savings? You can relate to what I’m talking about.
At the end of 2016, I stepped back and saw that the choices I was making did not reflect the person I wanted to be. I had recently transitioned out of a part-time job to focus more on grad school and still hadn’t quite figured out the best way to use the new free time. I was binge-watching Netflix daily. I was also eating WAY too much sugar. Like eating cake for breakfast consistently- not my healthiest choice.These things became my fulfillment. I woke up craving them. What used to be a consistent routine of waking up and reading my Bible and journaling became a routine of eating cake while watching an episode (or two) of Parenthood.
I needed to reset my habits.
I knew I wanted to let go of my unhealthy habits in 2017. When I sat down with Pace and Pattern to set my goals for the year, I knew immediately that one of them was going to be connecting with God. I wanted to focus on reorienting my life from food and TV back to Jesus.
I wish that goals happened organically, that the realization of my desire for deeper connection with God was enough to make it happen. But just wanting something to be true isn't enough to make it happen.
Just as I have to devote time and effort to my human relationships, I also have to be intentional with my relationship with God. I had to form new habits. I took my goal (connect with God) and wrote down a small step to take to make it happen: spend time with him 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week.
Connecting with God took intentionality and discipline. Being a morning person, I knew I would only be successful if I set aside time at the beginning of the day when I am most alert and least distracted. It also helped inviting other people into this area of my life. I began studying the book of James with a few friends, which gave me accountability to read and prepare for the next time we would be getting together. The same thing happened with my Lenten devotional. When there are people in it with you, it is easier to stay on track.
Habits are hard at first, but they get easier as you go.
This habit was not easy to form. When I woke up, I still wanted cake. I still wanted to watch Parks and Rec (yes, I finished Parenthood!). Instead, I picked up my Bible and journal and started connecting with God over a plate of eggs. Over time what began as an intentional choice slowly became a natural habit.
Now when I pick up my iPad every morning, I bypass the Netflix app and go straight to my Lenten devotional without thinking twice.
April is here and I am so happy with my progress in this goal. It is not a perfect rhythm-- I still miss a day or two some weeks. Yet, I look back at my journals and see that the fruit is so much more than checking a box. The success is seeing how my deeper relationship with God affects my friendships, job, and schoolwork. I have become more self-aware and feel like I have a clearer vision for my life.
Sometimes I wish that I could go back to my carefree life in Australia. I grew in ways that can only happen when being immersed in a new culture. However, this year I have learned about making choices to experience growth in the everyday. Thankfully, I’ve found a lot of joy in the process.
image by Bethany Shaw