When I posted my goals for 2016, I left off a category that is a huge part of my life. I love Jesus and my relationship with Him is the most important part of my life. Although I don’t hide that on this blog, I also don’t necessarily write about it a ton here either.
So, when I was creating goals for the year, I absolutely thought about some spiritual goals for the year. I just opted to leave them off. I did it intentionally actually, but didn’t think it was a big deal or that anyone would notice or care. Well, I had a friend from church ask me about it, so I thought I’d take a moment to address it today.
1. I struggle with legalism
I am a rule follower by nature – always have been and probably always will be. It’s easy for people like me to let that desire to follow the rules creep into all areas of my life, including my spiritual life. Thankfully, I didn’t grow up in a church or a family that told me I had to follow certain “rules” to be a “good” Christian. There is no such thing as a “good” Christian! I just think my personality lends itself to putting that pressure onto my own self.
One reason I have stopped setting spiritual goals is that I don’t want to feed my legalistic tendencies. I want my spiritual life to be healthy and flourishing, but not because I am following some rule book of what a good spiritual life should be. I plan to make spending good quality time with Jesus (through reading the Bible and praying) a priority, but I don’t think it’s healthy for me to write out a specific goal for how I hope to accomplish it.
2. I struggle with guilt when I fail
I have made spiritual goals in the past and have failed miserably. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve determined to read through the Bible in a year, only to never make it past the book of Numbers. When I would miss a day, it would mess me up completely! I’d try to get caught up, only to fall more and more behind. By the time summer rolled around, I was so mad at myself that I’d give up entirely and just use a devotional that I had at home. There is nothing wrong with devotionals, by the way!
In other areas of my life, I am able to give myself grace when I fail to meet my goals. For some reason, I struggle with guilt (and even shame) when I fail at my spiritual goals. When I get behind, it’s hard for me to get back on track and continue moving ahead. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so that could be part of it. I know that God doesn’t expect perfection, but I tend to beat myself up when I miss the mark.
3. I don’t have extra bandwidth besides the basics
I know that we can all use the excuse of “I’m so busy in this season of life” or “My plate is already so full.” No matter our season, we all have a lot going on that fills our day! But, in this season of life, my little children require a lot of hands-on care. It’s getting better as they become more independent, but they still need me quite a bit. Also, my husband’s job in the National Guard takes him away from our home one weekend a month and he recently began taking graduate school classes.
Aside from my desire to connect with Jesus daily through prayer and Bible reading, my personal reading (right now I’m working on The Best Yes*), and any reading that we have for our weekly Bible study (right now we are reading through God Came Near*), there’s not time for any other spiritual goals. Like many of you, it can be a real struggle to get 15 minutes of quiet and uninterrupted time. In this season of life, I am aiming for the basics and maybe some other year I can try again at reading the Bible through in a year!