Have you ever felt like this shrub? You know, green on the outside, but crunchy and brittle on the inside? I’m willing to bet you have. Life can be so incredibly overwhelming, stressful, and hectic, that you can often neglect caring for yourself. This leaves you feeling dry and dead on the inside.
I was away on a spiritual retreat recently with my church, Liquid Church, when I walked by this shrub. I was struck by the fact that it was barely hanging on for dear life. If that shrub were in my yard, and it was dying inside like that, I would have yanked it out a long time ago. It would be dying inside some compost pile right now, not taking up valuable real-estate in my landscape. What you may not be able to see in this picture is just how large this shrub really is. It is about 5 feet across and it stands about 3.5 feet tall. It is ugly, and it is dying inside.
I’m the kind of nerd that sits and looks at stuff and tries to figure out how it applies to life. Well, I guess that day, this shrub was the object of my attention. The longer I sat and looked at it, the more I felt like it reflected me, and so many other people that I know. There have been times in my life when everything looked good on the outside, but I was dying inside. There have been seasons where if you asked the right questions you would easily be able to peel away the outer greenery and see that inside my life was very dry and brittle.
Focusing on looking good on the outside and neglecting our inner-self will leave us dying inside.
The inner man, our soul, our inner being will dry up and stop producing life when we do this. The only way to combat that is to spend more time worrying about who we are on the inside and less on who we are on the outside. We need to cultivate a deeper sense of who we are as children of God. As we do this, our relationship with Jesus Christ will shape our inner-self. And as our inner-self is shaped it will change the way that our outer-self appears.
Here’s a few ways that I stay focused and grounded in my relationship with Jesus.
- Regular times of Prayer- I spend the early portion of my day talking to God about what’s on my heart and mind.
- Bible Reading- I read God’s word, the Bible, to hear from God, and to learn/be reminded of what He wants for my life.
- Listen to worship music- I have put together a playlist of some of my favorite worship songs. I enjoy focusing my mind and my attitude through listening to worship music.
- Develop a relationship with a mentor- I have a relationship with a mentor of mine that seems to have turned into a pen-pal-type relationship. But I love receiving his words of encouragement, and instruction.
- Spend time developing life giving relationships. The key here is that they have to be people that breathe life into you, not suck it out of you! These are people who challenge me to love Jesus more and love my wife and kids better than the day before.
- Writing… I utilize my moleskin journal, this blog, and a few other larger writing projects. I will be releasing an ebook soon called Empowered, boldly living a meaningful life. These keep me sharp, they keep me emotionally connected to Jesus, and allow me to express what I am learning from Him.
- Spend time in nature. This serves the same purpose as listening to worship music for me. When I get to be in nature I can’t help but see and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. I am consistently amazed by how creative God is.
This list is not exhaustive. It is in’t comprehensive. It is a working list for me. Some things will come and go but it is how I am currently cultivating inner growth and keeping my life lush and green! What would be on your list? What do I have on my list that would also be on your list?