Let me tell you about refocusing.
It's February, which means another semester has started and another schedule has been shifting and settling into place in my world, changing by the hour and spinning my emotions and sense of control into a tailwind every time. Trying to determine which classes take the most time and energy, which hours I need to dedicate to my research projects, and how to fit time with people into the spaces in between takes just about all of the energy I have, and little opportunity to fill myself back up.
Trying to find time to spend with Jesus and in the Word is obviously going to be what fills me up the most, but it's absolutely the hardest thing to schedule into my day, especially when my day doesn't even have a schedule that stands still. This friend of mine in undergrad didn’t plan her quiet time for a specific time each day, but instead she read her Bible before she started on any of her homework - and there is something about that prioritizing I really like. So instead of aiming for consistency in an inconsistent season and being disappointed in my world and myself every time, I've stuck my tiny pink Bible in my purse and made my reading for the day the first thing I do, no matter where I am or what my day looks like. And taking the pressure off of myself to read at the same time every day when those times change constantly has done wonders for my head and heart.
Lately I've been working through a 90-day plan that covers the entire Bible. Yes, you read that right: Genesis to Revelation in 90 days. Obviously life happens and I'm maybe 10 days off from where I started, but even if I haven't read the full amount every day, it's been a really wonderful thing to work straight through the books of the Bible and the story they tell in order, without stopping.
One thing that stands out right away in the Old Testament is the repetitive relationship between God and the nation of Israel. Israel walks in the way of the Lord and prospers, then grow complacent with His commands, choosing instead to follow false gods of the nations around them as well, or forsake the God of their fathers altogether. God raises leaders to bring them back to Him, and in their messages is where we most find the truths that haven't changed through thousands of years.
Because it might feel like a repetitive story, like Israel needs to wise up and get some sense already. But the truth is, it's my reality just as much as it was theirs. I wander around looking for answers and solutions to my stuffed schedule and my worn-out spirit as if I haven't seen God prove His faithfulness over and over again in the past and as if I've forgotten the ways He longs to draw near to me in the present. I grow numb as a I thumb through Instagram and read other people's words as if I don't have the Word sitting right there on my cell phone, a simple scroll away.
I look so many other places besides God for answers, when the other consistent theme you can find repeating throughout the stories of the Old Testament is that when Israel turn their faces back to God, He answers. Just one chapter after God allows Israel to fall into the hands of the Egyptians after they've broken away from Him yet again, a king named Asa comes to the throne (2 Chronicles 14).
The thing that grabbed my attention about the life of Asa is simple: he didn't just turn back to God, he called out to Him.
Refocusing my priorities, putting my time in the Word ahead of my time spent on school and work and people is great - but how much of a difference do I really let it make? I still get stressed when I can't find my own solutions, when the broken in front of me and the heaviness in me feels like a multitude.
I've been extra tired and feeling overly discouraged lately, and as I was telling my boyfriend the other day that I don't know how to fix it, he stopped me. "It's okay," he said, "You don't have to know." And he's right - I don't have to know how to fix it. I don't even necessarily have to fix it myself. I just need to be reminded of where to take the things I cannot fix - not my to-do list or my calendar, and definitely not to Instagram or the Internet.
Asa knew what my heart is still learning: we may not know how to face what this world brings against us, but God does. There is none like Him to help. Turning back to Him is one thing; asking Him for the help we need is another.
What holds me back from asking for help from God is the same thing that keeps me from asking other people: the desire to do it myself, the fear of failure, my definition of success by whether I've met the expectations of others around me.
When in reality, if it's about what I can do for me, anything I gain will be hollow. I'll keep wandering, I'll keep letting the solutions slip through my fingers. I'll stay stressed.
God never asked us to face multitudes of hurt and helplessness on our own. He wanted us to fight the battles with Him, in His name. All we have to do is ask.
And that will make all the difference in the outcome.