4 Small Steps to Growing My (sweet, dumb) Christian Soul

New Year’s resolutions are trite, unhelpful, and usually destined for failure, and if I didn’t love them so much, I’d definitely stop making them.

Am I the only one who enjoys a good goal? A personal growth intention synced up with the start of the New Year?

For me, my 2020 resolutions fall into one succint package: get a better handle on Christianity and How to Do It Well.

As a new believer, I want to lean in and learn more. I want to grow and improve in this faith that went from being the punchline of a joke to the umbrella I’ve pulled me and all of my life under.

Here are my action steps thus far:

1. Read the actual Bible. Every day.

2. Read books by Christian authors on subjects that matter to me.

3. Build my prayer life.

4. Build my gratitude life.

That’s it. Those are my 4 steps.

Here’s where the action steps go into action: practical application.

I won’t fill up your busy schedule with blither-blather on the whys. Just the hows. That’s how we win this.

Step 1: I’m following a Bible reading study.

There’s no way, right now, I could commit to a read the Bible in a year, or even two plan.

Instead, I chose She Reads Truth (have sang their praises here already) and following their reading plans for 2020. And here’s why: 1) they’re organized 2) they post, for free, online, making my life that much easier, 3) they include an essay after each day’s Bible reading, which often helps my grasping mind understand the reading better; and 4) they literally have a study going every single day of the year. PLUS, the first study of the new year is Genesis.

If I’m not ready for the whole Bible yet, I’m at least ready for the Beginning.

Step 2: how to live like a Christian, based on Christian authors whose books I currently own, but am yet to read, OR whose books I can check out of our public library, OR whose books I can find on my e-reader for reasonable amounts of money.

This is a little bit of a motley assortment. Is that so wrong? Who’s to say well curated always leads to a full picture?

In my case, I’m starting January with the atheist-turned-believer, beloved writer C.S. Lewis, and his Mere Christianity. I considered Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, whic I also own, but honestly? It looked hard. There. That’s it.

For me right now, Bonhoeffer looked to be a bit extra. Whereas Lewis writes as though he’s chatting with you over strong coffee at 10 in the morning. That seems doable.

I’ll have new books for February, March, well, you get the idea.

Step 3: Building my prayer life remains a work in progress, but an idea from Instagram inspired me. Writer and podcaster, the tremendously fun and delightful Annie F. Downs, shared her own prayer wall, which is comprised of an enormous Post-It note on her bedroom wall.

Now I don’t have a behemouth Post-It note, but I do have a corkboard, and I’ve got my eyes on it.

Mostly, I realize I need a place to make big prayers, prayers more than the “help me now” kind I like to hurl God’s way in the middle of the day. I believe in these prayers, too, don’t misunderstand me. Yet a thoughtful prayer, one I’ve put real consideration into, can only help organize my life and brain a little more under God, and a little less under the frantic, whatever-happens-to-be-happening-in-the-world-right-now approach I currently favor.

I also need a place to remember others. Because I care deeply when people share their stories and struggles with me, and then they fall straight out of my mind as soon as they walk away. I’d rather not be this person. The only way I imagine that changes would be through actual effort on my part.

Putting them and prayers for them on my wall, that I see, every day, seems like a possible solution.

Step 4: Build my gratitude life.

It’s just everywhere, the talk of gratitude, in all walks of life. Years before Christianity walloped me, I knew I needed to be more grateful.

And that I couldn’t think my way to grateful.

And that this only came through an actual gratitude practice.

So off and on, over years, I attempted to keep a gratitude journal.

Honestly? It helped. I mean, money didn’t rain from the sky, nor Oprah walk into my house and ask to interview me. On hard days, though, it helped me find a little perspective. And on good days, I leaned in a little more, appreciating what I had.

I stopped at some point and forgot about it. The way you do.

So I’ve picked that back up, with the journal Dorothy gave me for Christmas. So far, my gratitude lists lands somewhere between 5 and 8 things. I make a point to write the date, day, and to preface each entry with the phrase: Today I am grateful for. . .

So welcome 2020, and hello resolutions! I’m glad you’re here, pull up a seat, and stay awhile, won’t you?

Do you resolution or not? I’d love to hear more on your resolution-take, and what you might be resolving if you’re so inclined!

Published by Ms E

This is a place for new beginnings. Because new is not easy and beginning is hard. So here we tackle it the same way we eat the elephant... Wife, mother, writer, eater, cooker, farmer, daughter, home-owner, dog-carer, reader, professional list-maker. Part-time worrier. Full-time believer.

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