In a moment that seems like a really long time ago, I asked God, “Why am I single? Why do others I know have boyfriends or boyfriend after boyfriend and I’ve been single or caught in ‘talking’ relationships?” Well the answer I got back from Him was basically, “If you can’t build and maintain a relationship with Me, how will you build one with a boyfriend.” Yea it’s one of the first moments where I felt I had heard God’s answer probably because it was the first time I really asked God about something earnestly.
I wish I could say that I immediately started working on my relationship with God “hardcore” and that within a period of six months I met Mr. Right or even Mr. Right Now but that wasn’t the case. I mean my relationship improved some and I made some progress but nothing reflected what God shared with me. And despite getting this clear answer, every few months I would have a moment about why am I single/why don’t I have somebody and I would be reminded by what God had told me. This continued for years…
When I moved to Seattle it was after spending a year overseas where I had found a church to go to but I didn’t go that often because I was afraid and shy and nervous about meeting new people and felt that I should have been further in my walk than I was…I mean God told me what I needed to do to get what I wanted so why wasn’t I doing it and why weren’t the steps I made enough? Anyway, back to Seattle. On my way to the airport to go “home” for Christmas, I met a woman on the shuttle I booked and I don’t know how but we got on the topic of church and she asked if I went to one in Seattle. I responded no and she shared with me the church she went to which was up the road from my house. When I returned to town after Christmas, I went to the church she mentioned. After a month, I stopped pushing away the calls to join, learning from my mistake in the DR even though I knew my time in Seattle was limited. In my short time at this church, I had one of my moments of going all in and really working on my relationship with Him to get Him not a him. Some of the most productive months of my Christian walk, I even got the Holy Ghost for the first time. No falling out though just an authentic moment with God that must have been authentic and powerful because I’m tearing as I write this sentence. Unfortunately, when I moved from Seattle I was so connected that I could not connect with another church when I moved away. One of the most important lessons I learned from my attachment to my Seattle church, the one that finally let me move closer towards doing what God had told me in college which is build a relationship with Him, was that yes it is important to build relationships in my church and with other Christians but the development of those relationships cannot defer or delay my relationship with God. Make no mistakes, that church is a great church and I learned A LOT, that pastor still held one of my favorite Bible Studies ever where we really studied the Bible and even had tests, what happened was definitely a reflection of me and where I was at that time.
Fast forward about two years where I am a new PhD student. I knew that to embark on this PhD journey that I would need a church home and so after about a month I went to the church I kept passing on the bus and joined on the first day. At the apex of this new journey, I used the many tools available in my new church along with my longer timetable of being in NJ for more than a year, as previously I moved every year for about four years, and I finally started digging deeper and making some visible progress with improving my walk with God.
So what I have done in my time in New Jersey to make progress?
- Slow and Steady Wins the Race – Instead of feeling like I had to read 4-5 chapters of the Bible a day and spend an hour a day studying the Word and praying, I started with reading a chapter a day and getting consistant with that. I’ve been doing this for a little over a year and I am currently in the book of Jeremiah. Now I sometimes read and study more but this slow and steady foundation has helped my consistency.
- Used My Personality – Being into the school books and playing sports as a kid and young adult, I have always done better in group situations like sports practice or taking classes. So I started attending Sunday School at church which is taught like a class and includes structures like homework that help me increase my knowledge of the Word.
- Created Accountability For Action – I told someone about something I wanted to do to improve my walk with God. For example, one day soon after my pastor preached and discussed areas of the church that have low participation like the outreach ministry and the midweek early morning prayer meeting. I had one of my, what I call “sporadic in face run-ins” with my pastor. During this run-in, I told him that I planned on starting to go to 6am prayer. I used the mix of accountability/conviction that stems from human nature tendency of wanting to look good and avoid looking bad kick in. That quick “run-in” was enough and I said, “well I guess I have to start going now if I told the pastor I was going…,” which allowed me to make another step towards a deeper walk with Him.
What I have done may not work for you but I pray it gets your mind thinking about how you can create your own methods to improve your relationship with God.
Honestly I still want a boyfriend, just being real, but I can now also honestly say that it is now at a point where it really is about getting to Him to get to Him not to get a him. Deep down, I know that the him will come and when he comes great! I will enjoy cuddling again, lol. But having Him…that’s the relationship I know I can’t live without even in my most I want a boyfriend/companion/husband moments. I still don’t have it all down [aspects of a Christian walk] and sometimes I can’t even tell if what I’m doing in Him is for Him or a step in the process for getting things on my To Do and Wish Lists done but I do know that my persistence and patience are starting to pay off and forward movement is occurring 🙂 So if you are reading this, in the words of Dorie, “just keep swimming,” the day will come where the forced scheduling will become desired scheduling and your feeling of connection with God will come more quickly and often! As I like to sing to myself on the days where praising God is a bit more work than normal, “Hallejujah Anyhow.”