God: Relationship Or Religion

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When you think about managing relationships in your life, you likely think about ways to make your marriage better or your next girls night out.  What about your number one relationship?  How are you taking care of your relationship with God?

I recently challenged myself with this same question.  It is my belief and experience, that I have a relationship with Jesus, not a religion around him.  Religion is about doing “things” because it is expected.  It is routine and empty without purpose.  This is my personal belief.  If you do rituals with full heart and intention, then awesome.  If I have a relationship with God, am I treating it like a relationship?  I wanted to invite you down this path to explore with me.  Wanna come?

OK, here we go!

So, I googled relationship tips to see if I could find like a top 10 list of ways to improve your relationship and wanted to test applying them to God.  Yikes!  The results were so all over the board!  After reviewing several sites, I found the tips that most had in common to share so we can compare!

 1.  Don’t hold onto grudges, forgive

  • Do you have grudges with God?  Maybe something has happened in your life that is tragic.  It’s just unfair.  Do you hold that against God?  What about unanswered prayers?  Just like in other relationships, we don’t always know their perspective.  That is where faith comes in.  Having faith that God has a greater plan can help move through some grudges.  Ultimately, you will need to move through forgiveness so those grudges don’t stand between you and Jesus.
  • Action Item:  Spend time in prayer and ask God to show you any areas that you might need to allow forgiveness in.  Maybe it is with God, maybe it is with someone else.  God does command us to forgive everyone.

2. Be honest and admit when you are wrong or made a mistake

  • God already knows!  Why try to hide it or cover it up!  He will give you grace and love when you turn to him.  That is why we have the word repent!
  • Action item:  Search your heart, what do you need to repent?  Make a clean slate with you and God today.  

3.  Communicate: Talk freely and listen abundantly

  • This is something that I take pure joy in!  God is always with us!  That means you can talk to him all the time.  Just like any relationship, always remember this:  God gave you two ears and one mouth.  We should listen more than we speak.  I am guilty of coming to God in prayer with my needs and not listening to him.  Can you imagine if you treated other relationships like that?  Just one-sided communication?  Wouldn’t work, right?
  • Action item:  Practice listening.  Take some time to imagine Jesus sitting in front of you.  Speaking out loud, ask him if there is something that he is trying to tell you.  Listen.  God speaks to us in so many ways.  Scripture and through experiences.  There is no reason to limit him.  Just be always listening.

4.  Show love in the small ways

  • How do you love God?  Staying true to his word.  Be obedient.  Be grateful.  Love people.
  • Action item:  Find something small that you can do to be obedient.  It might be something that you are already doing, but dedicate it to him.  Keep it between you and God.

5.  Trust

  • Trust is necessary in any relationship and it can be one of the hardest things to give.  Easy to say, hard to do.  
  • Action item: Spend some time thinking about what you struggle to trust God with.  Brainstorm ways that you can give trust to God in the situation.  This is going to be different for everyone.  Maybe it is in your finances, your health, or a relationship.  Give God space to do his thing and trust that he got you covered.

6.  Accept, don’t force expectations on people.

  • Accepting people for how they are and not how you think they should be can be hard.  What about God?  What are your expectations on him?  Show you mercy during a trial?  Answer a prayer that has been unanswered?  Sometimes I feel like we treat God like a genie and then get upset when our wish isn’t granted.  Or worse, we don’t accept commandment or laws that don’t always feel good.  We can’t pick and choose the truths.  Truth is truth.
  • Action Item:  Are you fully accepting of God?  If there is anything that you struggle to accept, talk openly about it with him.  If you still struggle, bring in an advisor that can help answer questions and guide you through your struggles.

7.  Show appreciation

  • How true is this?  Don’t you like to be appreciated?  I know I do.  I know my husband does too.  God doesn’t need our appreciation the same way that we “need” it.  God doesn’t need anything from us.  But he wants to be close to us.  Worship.  Thank God for your blessings.  Acknowledge him for what he has done.  It will move you closer to him
  • Action item:  List your blessings.  How long of a list can you make of things you appreciate about God?  Make it as long as you can, and thank him.  I think I might open a note on my phone so I can always be adding to it.

8.  Make time for each other

  • Time is love in relationships.  You don’t have to do anything fancy, just be together.  God wants your time.  He wants you attention.  Spending time with him will feed your soul!
  • Action Item:  Look at your calendar for the next week.  Do you have time scheduled for him?  Can you add one more time slot for him?  What if you scheduled a lunch break and read scripture or bought a bible study book?  Maybe go to bible study at church?  Schedule in 5 minutes of prayer time each morning or before bed?

9.  Try to get their perspective

  • This is a challenge in every relationship.  I am really.  You ask questions to try to get the other person to explain, but we are always interpreting what we think they mean.  It’s human nature!  Best way is to dive into the word, pray for clarity, and keep your mind open.
  • Action Item:  Is there anything that you have been closed-minded about?  Challenge your automatic assumptions to see if they are rooted in truth or filtered by your perspective.

10.   Do things together.

  • Doing everyday things with someone always deepens my relationship with them.  I love it!  Even if it is just running an errand, doing chores around the house-it doesn’t matter what-I love doing it with my husband or a friend.  Of course it is more fun when it is something you both enjoy.  Have you ever invited God along or done something with him?  What do both you and God enjoy?
  • Action Item:  I am sure this one is not hard to figure out…..Do something with God!  Invite him along.  Be mindful.  Maybe do something out of love for someone else and pray for God to be with you.  Just like if it was a friend with you, talk to him while you are doing it!  Include him.

After looking at these 10 things, I see that there is more that I can do to deepen my relationship with God.  Just like every relationship, you can always go deeper.  The point is that you show up and try with all your heart.  That is what God wants.  A real life relationship with you.  Try some of these actions steps!  I would love to hear how it goes!

 

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