Do you feel like something is blocking your relationship with God? Do you look at God’s promises to believers and then wonder where He is in your life? I think that these are common questions that arise during our Christian journey. One of the things that I struggled with was knowing the Word of God, but then struggling to believe that it applied to me.
I mentioned last week in Part 1, that God has been taking me through a period of introspection and during this time I had been focused on developing a deeper relationship with God. Last week we discussed the first 4 lessons that I learned. This week I am revealing lessons 5 – 7. As you read this post, I encourage you to take notes and dig deep to see where you are strong in these areas and where you need to go a little deeper.
Lesson 5: Be open to seeing God and hearing from God even if it doesn’t make sense
One of the things that I struggled with was obeying God when it didn’t make sense. For example, a few years ago I ended up in a network marketing presentation. I was so angry because I wanted to go home, I was hungry, and I didn’t want to be there. Throughout the presentation, I was trying to figure out how to sneak out, because I wasn’t about to buy whatever these people were selling. However, at that moment and in my anger I heard God tell me that if I’m asking Him to bless me then I need to be open to how He does it. You see, for many months prior to that presentation I had been praying to God asking Him to allow me to leave my job at that time. I had been going through workplace bullying and I was looking for a way to get out of that job so I could get my peace back. Even that day of the presentation I was praying that same prayer. However, when I was in the venue to give me something different, I turned my nose up at it because of what it was. I had expected God to give me a better job, with more pay, more responsibilities, and greater opportunities for advancement. I didn’t think He would send me a network marketing business. Initially I didn’t want to join the business, because it wasn’t what I was expecting, but I did it anyway and it turns out that two years later I would be a pregnant, single mom and that income that I made allowed me to be able to choose to stay at home with my twins.
In order to take the limits off God, we must also be open to seeing God and hearing from God even when it doesn’t make sense. We have our own views about what the blessing should look like and who is the proper person to deliver a message from God. I heard a message from Bishop T.D. Jakes and he reminded the listeners that the ravens fed Elijah and they weren’t believers. Sometimes we limit ourselves from hearing a message from God because of the package that it came in.
For example, sometimes I think that the only people that I can receive messages from are other Christians. I want to make sure that the advice was from someone who worshipped like I did. However, one day in Bible study, one of my mentors told the class that a homeless person on the street can blurt out a message that God put in his spirit to give to you. We just have to be open to how God works. When I sat back and thought about it, I realized that I have received advice or comments from people in the grocery store that I knew was from God. I didn’t stop them to ask them their faith although sometimes I could tell that they were believers. But at that moment, I knew that was something that God was trying to tell me and that they were the vessel that God chose to use at that moment. Also, be open to sharing a word with a stranger if you feel that God is trying to use you to deliver a message to someone else. With that being said, this is where discernment comes in because it helps you to understand if the message was:
- From God (it is aligned with the Word of God and the Spirit of God)
- What parts you need to implement now
- What things need to be implemented later
- What parts you should leave behind
With every piece of advice that you receive, always analyze it according to these 4 principles. Do this with everyone even if they are believers because sometimes people go beyond what God wants to tell you and integrate their own thoughts and opinions in the advice. Going through the process to answer these questions are critical to help you to avoid moving away from God’s will and His way. Just like you wouldn’t take all of the advice from a parenting book, other parent, or some non-parent parenting expert you have to do the same with advice. Think of it this way: You may have a friend who has a fabulous sense of style but you aren’t going to wear all of her clothes or go out and buy the same wardrobe. She may be a totally different size; so although those clothes look good on her they may not be good for you. You may find a purse that works, some accessories or even a pair of shoes but everything won’t work for you. Therefore just like you wouldn’t wear all your friend’s clothes or duplicate her entire wardrobe you can’t wear everyone’s advice and that is okay. The key is to understand the gems that are right for you, that God is telling you are right for you, and then running with it to improve your life.
Lesson 6: Watch the messages and energy around you
One of the things that they always say in church is to, “Guard your gates.” This means to guard your mind, what you see, and what you hear from everything that doesn’t align with the Word of God. In order to do this, you must start to evaluate the things in your life that disturb your peace or that lead to worry and anxiety. Those things are things that you either need to eliminate or limit your access to. For example, when I did my reflection, I knew that the news stressed me out. Therefore, I told myself that I could continue to watch the news and lose peace or I could stop and regain my peace but I couldn’t do both. Therefore, I deleted the news apps on my phone and went back to my policy of staying off of social media during major news breaks. I knew that when I focused on the news, I was forgetting how good God was and that was blocking my ability to hear from God. Therefore, if I wanted to hear God more, I needed to drastically cut back on the amount of news that I watched so I could protect my peace.
Breaking up from the news is just one example. I was at a conference and one of the speakers said to start deleting phone numbers so you can purge your phone from the people and energy that are pulling away from your connection to God. During the Q&A I raised my hand and asked what that meant and how do you decide who stays and who goes. Also, what about social media? Wouldn’t the person know if you unfriended them? The concept seemed so foreign to me. However, once I thought about it, it made so much sense. There are some people who are:
These people will suck the energy out of you and start to crowd out the blessings that God has in store for you. Those people don’t need to be around you. Therefore, start to guard your gates and release yourself from the negative energy and also release yourself from the expectation that you just need to stick around out of a sense of obligation or that the other person may feel bad. We must guard our gates and guard the energy around us.
Philippians 4: 6-7 provides an amazing blueprint for how to do this.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This verse tells us to:
- Don’t be anxious. Remember this comes from trusting God and casting our burdens onto Him.
- Pray and ask God for what you need with thanks. Gratitude is important, beause we are recognizing the power of God and we are thanking Him in advance. You may be wondering, “what if He doesn’t give me what I asked for?” Even in that situation, be thankful because there is a reason for that. God, in His infinite wisdom, knows that either you don’t need it or it will be harmful if you do get it.
- Allow yourself to feel peace. There will be so many temptations to pick the stuff back up or try to handle it yourself. However, trust God and know that He is God and He is working things out on your behalf.
- Guard your heart and mind. Therefore, we must only focus on the things that are of Jesus. There are so many things that compete with our attention and that draw us away from God. However, we must constantly shift our attention and our energy back to God.
There is no need to look to people, places, and things for the peace that is only found in Jesus Christ. Therefore, as you pray with expectation and as you wait with thanksgiving, you can still do things to make sure that you are in alignment with God.
- Stay in His Word by reading the Bible
- Seek God in prayer and meditation
- De-clutter your space and take care of the things that He has already blessed you with
- Do something to serve others
- Continue to watch your thoughts and take every thought that is not from God and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Lesson 7: Figure out what you want
This one had been tugging at me over the last few weeks. There have been a couple of people who asked me, “What do you want?” I would respond with what I wanted for my business, how I wanted to serve others, and what I wanted for my children. They would ask me again, “What do you want?” I would respond again, look at them with a puzzled look on my face, while wondering if I was speaking loudly or clearly enough. That’s when I was reminded that I wasn’t saying what I wanted for myself and that my goals and my aspirations were rooted in my ability to show up for and to help others. That’s when I realized that I couldn’t answer the question about what I wanted because I didn’t know.
One of the things that I kept hearing over again was that in motherhood, many moms forget who they are and forget what they want because everything becomes a part of the baby. I didn’t think that was true, but the further I got along in motherhood I realized that in many cases that it was. That’s when I also realized that being a business owner is similar to being a mom. God placed a dream inside of me and as I grow this business, that dream is being born. When you have a purpose-based business, similar to having a child, your personal dreams can become totally tied to the people that you serve and the success that you have doing it.
I think that it is so important to recognize that as women and as mothers that we are givers. We constantly give to others because we want to make sure that they are okay. That is important, but if we don’t take the time to pour back into ourselves then our well will run dry and we will have nothing left to give. In these moments we forget that we matter too. That’s why it is so dangerous to forget and to lose sight of what we want, because in those moments, we forget that we matter and we forget that we are a gift from God. We forget that as people of God and as gifts of God that we must take care of the temple (ourselves) that He has given to us. Therefore, it is so important to realize if and when you are forgetting what you want and then take a step back to get back to you. Take some time to pour into you, to think about the goals and dreams that you have. Think about your own bucket list and the things that make you happy outside of your children and the people who you are called to serve. That stuff is critical, but it is also critical to not lose sight of your individuality and who God has called you to be. Therefore, I challenge you to ask that question – “What do you want?” If you don’t know, then seek God and continue to ask Him to reveal it to you. Write down the things that you love and the things that bring you happiness. Close your eyes and imagine your ideal life. This may take some time, and if it does, that is okay too. Don’t rush the process. One day it will come to you and when it does, write it down and hold onto that vision. That will be your WHY.
I hope that this 2-part series really helped you to evaluate your faith in God and whether you believe that His truths apply to you. I hope that this shows you where you have been limiting God, trying to hold onto the wheel, and where you have allowed doubt to impact your faith. Even if you have to revisit Lessons 1 – 3 in Part 1, I encourage you to do so. These lessons will help you to go deeper in your relationship with God and position yourself to walk in the abundance that He has promised those who believe in Him.
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Aisha Taylor is a single mom of twins, personal financial coach, work from home entrepreneur, and #1 Amazon Best Selling Author of the book “5+5 FNPhenomenal Ways to Save $100 This Week Without Killing Your Lifestyle.” Aisha has been featured in ESSENCE, Jet Magazine, and Black Enterprise. She is also the Founder of FNPhenomenal (Frugal –n- Phenomenal), a movement designed to help single moms create a vision for their lives, craft a financial strategy to support that vision, and show them that phenomenal living is possible. It’s time for you to be Financially Phenomenal!