HOW DAILY DEVOTIONALS IMPROVED MY QUALITY OF LIFE
now that november's here, and thanksgiving is on the horizon, society tends to take a step back, and reflect in a spirit of gratitude. and while I am a firm believer in practicing thanksgiving on a daily basis (emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, not the turkey and pie😂), I figured it was a great time to share how daily devotionals have helped me develop an 'attitude of gratitude', among other things.
It was probably about six or seven years ago when I really began opening my bible, well actually, let's be honest, when I downloaded the bible app (by youversion). every day, upon opening the app, you're greeted with a 'verse of the day'. so every day I would read the verse every day, and eventually that turned into reading the whole passage that the particular verse came from; but I still seemed to feel a bit lost in it all, not really able to interpret what the verses mean and how I can apply it to my life.
It was shortly after that I discovered the 'plans' tab. I clicked on it and founds TONS of devotionals, on what seems like every topic; from marriage and dating to work and entrepreneurship, and everything in between. some of them are only a few days long while others can last a month or longer. each day you're presented with a passage, story, some advice, or letter of encouragement followed by a verse (or maybe a few different verses) to back up the passage. this guided way of reading made it so much easier for me to not only understand what I was reading, but also how I can put it into practice.
now that I'm 177 completed devotionals in, here's what I've learned that have helped me look at life through a brighter lens:
first and foremost, devotionals--regardless of the topic--have helped me to be thankful in all situations. we get into this habit of only practicing thankfulness when we get something that we want; when our prayers are answered, or goals met, but each day that we wake up we are given a reason to be thankful. thankful for another day to live, to move, to meet, to work, to eat, to enjoy, and to love. we can get so caught up in the hustle of life that we forget that if we have air in our lungs, food in our fridge, running water, and clothes on our back that we're already winning. for every complaint we can think of, there also something that we can be thankful for. we may not like our current job, but at least we have one. we may not be a millionaire, but we have enough to provide. we may not be eating filet mignon, but ground beef can be just as tasty with the right seasonings😊, sure our families and/or friends can be annoying sometimes, but we have support.
If we can try our darnedest to remain in a space of thankfulness, we'll find an essence of peace to help keep us grounded as we flow through life.
'give thanks in all circumstances...' 1 thessalonians 5:18 NIV
being content with what I have while striving for my goals
speaking of thankfulness... being thankful is directly related with our ability to be content; satisfied with where we currently are in life. now being content DOES NOT mean settling. there's this sweet spot where we can be at peace and happy with our journey, while having goals for where we'd like to go.
now I have to admit that although I'm listing this as a lesson learned I would be lying if I said I didn't still struggle with this from time to time. but one of the realizations that I've had to help me reel this back in is the simple fact that, if we can find issue and fault with what we currently have, we sure as heck are going to find issue and fault with our end goals if we don't learn to practice contentment every step of the way.
'I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.' philippians 4:12-13 NIV
let's be real...it's so easy to point out the flaws in others than it is to admit our own. that's because taking a deep dive into our own is scary, vulnerable, and extremely humbling. and although all of these things may be true, self-reflection is essential to our growth as people, as professionals, as students, as teachers, as mothers, daughters...as women. It's interesting how this lesson came to me. It wasn't from any specific devotional to be honest. It was from me reading devotionals and thinking 'oh this person really needs to hear this' or 'that person really needs to work on that' when in reality it was ME, MYSELF, and I that needed to work on the things that I was reading. If that's not a punch to the gut I don't know what is. so now, no matter how hard, although sometimes it may take a little time, I invite self-reflection because I don't want to remain who I was; I want to grow into the woman I was meant to be.
'how can you say to your brother, ‘let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?' matthew 7:4 NIV
changed my perspective on challenges
life is chocked full of challenges. I've definitely had my fair share as I'm sure you've had yours. but what can make going through challenges less sucky is our perspective. now this is no easy feat, especially in the moment, but I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, even the hard things. challenges are meant to grow and shape us, not harden us and fill us with bitterness. one of the best lessons I've learned when it comes to challenges is instead of asking 'why?' ask 'what?'. not 'why is this happening to me?' but 'what am I supposed to learn from this?'. changing our outlook from a victimizing one to an overcoming one can really have an effect on how we view situations in our lives. so I challenge you, the next time you're faced with a a hardship, ask 'what?'
'for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.' 2 corinthians 4:17 NIV
oh the difficulty it is to forgive, whether it be someone else or ourselves. I'm definitely guilty of holding grudges, but ladies we HAVE to stop. because forgiveness isn't about the other person, it's about us. It costs more energy to stay upset and harden our hearts towards others and ourselves than it does to let it go. now forgiveness doesn't make whatever action that hurt us right, it doesn't make it acceptable, and it doesn't mean we can't stand up for ourselves and have standards. but forgiveness give us the space to love again, the space to feel again, the space to grow. we may never get that apology we think we deserve. but forgiveness is making the choice to be okay and move on, even if we never hear it.
'get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.' ephesians 4:31-32 NIV
you may not be a religious person and that's perfectly okay. I still hope these lessons that I've learned and how they have shaped my life can be helpful to you and encourage you to practice some of these as well.
thanks so much for reading and feel free to hit me up if you have any questions!💕