6 Simple Tips for Connecting With God in the Busy Seasons
A few weeks ago I had breakfast with a friend, and we started discussing everything that needed to be finished by the end of the semester. This included assignments, revisions, graded papers, books to be read, literally anything that HAD to be finished before the semester is over. As we both continued adding to our composite list, we felt frozen. Where to start? When (and how) would this all get done? And in my mind at least, what am I going to have to sacrifice to do this?
I think we've all been there: overwhelmed to the point of paralysis. Our to-do lists get out of control, we obsessively plan how to attack them without ever actually starting them. And if you're anything like me, the first thing to go is my time with the Lord. Because that doesn't have a due date. For me, this becomes an endless cycle, because when I sacrifice my time with God, I feel more chaotic, less able to handle my day-to-day life. I start to try to take control, which spirals me into anxiety. When I keep Him at the center, He provides peace and wisdom and the strength and discipline I need to get my life back on track.
Maybe you're just like me, sacrificing the most important thing in order to accomplish the mundane tasks that school or your job require. Maybe you've come back to this blog post four different times because finding the time to read this is difficult. I keep thinking that the next stage of my life will be less busy, that I'll really get started then. But that's not true. God has me here, now. I need to connect with Him and serve Him where I'm at. I don't have it all figured out, but below are six ways I stay connected when I feel like I have no time.
I started listening to Podcasts when I drove back and forth to Atlanta on a weekly basis. Now that I'm hooked, I not only listen to them while I drive but also while I get ready in the morning (and for bed), while I fold laundry, while I cook, when I walk to and from school. Basically, any time that I have to do something with my hands or feet, I'm listening to a podcast. Some of my favorites are: The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, The Gospel Coalition, and She Proves Faithful. It's a way to stay connected, hear people talk about the Lord, and keep Him in your mind while you go about your busy chores.
2. Books (on tape)
Sometimes, I feel like I don't have the energy to pull out the Bible and weed through tough text. (I know this is the worst -- give me some grace, y'all!). I still often have a mindset that when I read Scripture I need to be super focused and have myself together for God to be able to do any work. When I feel that way, I'll pick up a book, like something by Lysa Terkeurst or John Piper, where Scripture is quoted and ruminated on. My sister once said that sometimes these books give us a "watered down" version of Scripture, which is totally true, but in busy seasons, sometimes this feels more accessible. And if you don't have time to sit back and read, you can get a book on tape from your local library, or through Amazon's Audible subscription (which is what I use). Also, I'm pretty sure there are apps that will read the Bible to you, too.
3. Scripture Memorization
About six years ago, I bought a book called 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know By Heart by Robert J. Morgan. I think in those six years, I've only gotten through about 10 verses, but hey, maybe one day... Anyway, when I don't have a lot of time, I pick one of those verses and I write it on post-it notes and scatter them everywhere: the oven, the cabinets, the coffee creamer, the mirrors, my dashboard, my cell phone screen. That way, the verse innundates my daily routine. I have no choice but to be meditating on it. In addition, I love this book because Robert Morgan has a short 2-3 page chapter on why each verse is so vital to memorize, it's theological importance, and why it matters for us as Christians.
Sara Hagerty (author of Every Bitter Thing is Sweet) does something called Adoration. At the beginning of each month, she posts a list of verses to use to draw closer to God. In her words, adoration is "telling God what's so great about God." You can read more about that on her website. On her Instagram, she posts the verse each day, and sometimes, that's the only Scripture I read for the day. I think about it. I pray about it. I try to connect it to my own life. Some days, I'll read the verses surrounding it. Some days, I scroll right past it if I'm being completely honest. If you're short on time, these verses can be a way to orient your day around God, to center yourself, almost a mantra to repeat through the chaos. In a similar way, devotionals typically feature 1-2 verses per day and a short anecdote to help you understand them. A little time in the word is better than no time!
5. Worship Music
In college, as a new Christian, I was completely overwhelmed by the idea of spending time with God. I was afraid I was going to do it wrong, that my heart wouldn't be in the right place, that I wouldn't walk away feeling like a lightning bolt of holiness had struck me. A friend of mine told me that a good place to start was learning to worship the Lord, and the easiest way to do that, she said, was to listen to worship music. Of course, I had no idea what that meant. I grew up Catholic, and in my church, the most excited we ever got during mass was doing a little booty bump with our neighbor during the Alleluia. But now, when I listen to those songs, whether I'm singing along or not, I say them as a prayer. I concentrate on the words, claiming them as truth, praying that my faith would echo the lyrics.
6. Prayer Routine
I think we often forget that we have a direct line to God through prayer. We remember when we need something, but in the middle of the chaos, we don't use that line like we should. I'm super guilty of this. To get into a regular prayer routine, sometimes we need tangible reminders. One way to do this is to attach prayer to daily tasks. Walk to school? Pray every time you cross a crosswalk. Drive? Pray at each stop light. On your phone a lot? Pray every time you scroll through Facebook. Eventually, these reminders won't be necessary, praying throughout your day will become second nature.
These are just a few ways to stay connected when having quiet times feels impossible. It can also be a way to get yourself back in the swing of quiet times after a busy season when you feel like you've forgotten what they look like. It can also be a way to help center ourselves in our daily walks, redirecting us constantly back towards the Lord. The goal, of course, is to find ways to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, even in the midst of our crazy, everyday lives, to live in the NOW where He has placed us instead of waiting for the next thing. When we stay centered on Christ, the chaos feels a lot less chaotic!