The only music I have on my iPhone is scripture set to music. I try to listen to songs at least once a week.
I’m finding having the Bible verses running through my head all day really encouraging. It helps my anxiety; in moments where the ugly self-critic starts up, I have ready songs to sing at it that help shut it up.
It really works for me.
And I want to recommend something:
Don’t do it.
Don’t read this and think, “Wow, what a great Christian she is! I should be reading the Bible/listening to the Word/memorizing scripture/listening to Christian music too.”
If you read this post, and the world “should” pops into your head at any point, then run screaming in the other direction.
Go listen to Rhianna or Coldplay instead. And praise Jesus through their funkiness.
Because there’s more Jesus in a thimbleful of joy than in twelve tons of obligation.
Do you do this to yourself? One of your friends talks about getting up at first light and seeking out the Scripture, and you feel awful, because your plans don’t include any kind of dawn patrol?
Or a Bible study leader enthuses about a particular book series, or there’s a spiritual practice everyone is all agog over, and you try, but it doesn’t ring your bell/fit in your schedule/speak to you, and you wonder what is wrong with you?
Or you even compare yourself with other periods of your Christian life, say that time in college where, like Addie Zierman says, (http://addiezierman.com/) you were on fire? And you just knew God looked at all your spiritual practices and saw that they were Very Good, indeed?
I am tired of doing this.
I am tired of living out my faith like that character in Can’t Buy Me Love, where I’m copying dance moves because I’m afraid of not dancing or worse, making something up on my own.
Here’s the truth, though.
Sometimes, my best spiritual practice is doing nothing.
Sometimes, the faith returns when I give up.
Sometimes, I find Jesus more when I’m drawing than when I’m reading the Bible.
I remember when I was in high school, I started trying to study the Bible and connect with God at night. I didn’t have a model to follow, so I made it up. I’d read a random passage of scripture, and then I would write a poem based on it. I did not learn much about the Bible, exactly, no commentaries or strategy or context, but I still remember that time because it felt like playing. It felt like experimenting, like I was figuring out something important.
A few years later, someone taught me how to do a devotional. And that I should be doing them.
And the fun mostly went out the window.
So right now, the things that bring me closer to Jesus that I also enjoy? I cling to them. I get a little obsessive about them. Because it feels like feasting after so many years of dryness. It feels like ritual and ease and comfort.
When I listen to those scriptures in music, I feel good. Feeling good with God is a pretty heady feeling.
I don’t want to knock the traditional ways of studying scripture, of being scholarly or intentional, of fasting or prayer or contemplation.
Not at all.
But I find those traditions become more attractive when I’m first in a place of enjoyment. And frankly, I need more practice enjoying God than I do buckling down and doing what’s expected of me.
What I want to encourage you to do is this. Find that thimbleful of joy with God. Maybe it’s in yoga practice, or in ballet class. Maybe it’s in listening to Bach or reading Flannery O’Connor. Maybe it’s in baking a really luscious cake, or having tea and prayer with a friend.
Do that. Don’t copy me. Don’t mimic other dancers. Don’t feel bad because your thing isn’t my thing.
Make the movement for you and Jesus. And put your whole soul into the dance.
Yearning for more joy in your faith? Find some of my books about recapturing it here.
Image credit: Coisas Fugidias