As I sit down to write this post, I’m thinking back to why I decided to do the Fellows Program, and what I left behind in South Carolina. I moved to Nashville only knowing three people. It was such a bold decision for me. I’ve always been the predictable girl – doing the ‘right’ things, saying the ‘respectable’ things. I had never even been to Nashville before I moved here a month ago. For three weeks I have been living in a new place, in someone else’s house. I have been meeting people, having conversation after conversation talking about my plans for the future. I’ve learned new things about the Lord, and I’ve had fun doing everything. So far, I feel joy here.
But all the joy I’ve experienced reminds me of the many reasons I decided to move to Nashville and do the Fellows Program. One reason I chose the Fellows was because I wanted to have an intentional year seeking the Lord, while also developing habits in my life that I hope to continue forever. These habits or rhythms that I want to create aren’t just about doing good things, but really learning spiritual discipline in all areas of my life. They aren’t empty, emotionless, legalistic tasks to complete, but rather learning how to daily put on the armor of God and create healthy rhythms. I don’t want my actions to be things that I do just to be a good person or a good Christian, but I want to learn more of the Lord’s personality, goodness, and unending grace.
Ephesians 6:10-13 says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground…”
You see, I want to create habits that will help me in the future – habits of diligently reading the word, praying consistently, learning to control my reactions in situations, seeking to view all people in all places as the Lord’s children, and creating a mindset that values all tasks even the mundane ones. I’m also hoping there are habits I gain from this year that I don’t even know I need.
I’ve realized that in the past the practices I held to were swayed mainly by my emotions. If I had a hard day or something that didn’t go right controlling how I reacted was out of the question. My emotions have been in control of my actions. But, if I am seeking to be more like Jesus every day, there has to be a balance between my emotions and being detached from them all together. Jesus showed us a perfect balance of this behavior. He shows us in multiple situations how he felt and how his behavior was still rooted in the Lord. His reaction in the wilderness with the devil is one of those times. In Matthew 4, Jesus is hungry and feeling many emotions, but he doesn’t just react in a way that ends his discussion quickly so he can be done – that is probably what I would have done. Jesus rather acknowledges the emotions he is feeling and continues to speak scripture. That response is discipline. This seems to be the perfect balance between emotion and reason playing out in a rhythm of Jesus life.
To dig deeper I attended our Group Dynamics Retreat this weekend, and everything we talked about made me go back to this idea of how I might think about creating lifelong habits in my life. The first night of the retreat we talked about the Myers Briggs personality test and the eight letters that make up the various personality types within the test. The letters that really grabbed my attention were T and F, which represent thinking (T) and feeling (F). We spent time divided into groups based on our specific letter, and then we spent time talking about why the other side and personality type we find hard to relate to are important and valuable. I fall into the F category, which really just means I make decisions and process feelings in a more emotional way than the T. We talked about the good that comes from both T and F. The T side is important because they remind me – as a person that related more to feelings – to not act solely on emotion and to take a step back before I make a decision in order to think more holistically (that is such a valuable skill). The F side can show the T side that there are feelings and emotions attached to decisions and behavior, so one must think about that in making decisions. I need someone that sees more of a logical view point to remind me that emotions aren’t the only factor when reacting or making a decision.
As we discussed how important both sides of all personalities are, I realized that this same idea of how these two characteristics balance each other is like the balancing act of creating habits in my life that aren’t strictly legalistic but also aren’t solely based on how I feel in the moment. I don’t want to simply check a box because it is what I should do, but I hope to actually steward steps that I will use in my future to help me become more like the Lord. For me, that’s a hard balance. On a surface level doing the ‘right’ things are easy for me, but I don’t want to do the right things just because. I want to cultivate rhythms for my life that are rooted in scripture.
Even today, these ideas that I have been thinking about were brought up again in various theological conversations. I know that I have a lot to learn this year and for the rest of my life. I pray that the Lord opens my eyes and heart to understand and seek His face. I pray that through pursuing him I begin to know and walk closer with him daily, creating rhythms for my future.