Feeling out of sorts? Transforming your life and renovating your unique spiritual haven just might be simpler than you imagine.
As someone who deals with an overactive imagination, traveling by air isn’t my favorite thing to do. A little on edge whenever I need to fly, I always listen intently to safety protocol and read the safety pamphlets, because you just never know when an emergency could happen.
Because of my paranoia, I’m well aware of what to do if the oxygen masks come dropping from the ceiling: put yours on first before helping anyone else. Even if you’re a mom caring for younger travelers.
Like it’s essential to make sure you’re putting on your own oxygen mask first if the plane is going down, you need to work on your own spiritual haven before creating a haven for anyone else.
Getting comfortable in your own skin
I remember life as a teenager. With hormones raging, it was hard to figure out what was going on inside of me — which made it impossible to accept myself. To me, ages 14 to 22 are a blur of many late nights filled with sobbing, as I cried myself to sleep trying to figure out my jumble of thoughts and emotions. Why did I look the way I did? Why didn’t certain boys like me? What was I supposed to do with my life?
Of course I was unsettled and out of sorts because of my age — and hormones. Even though as I look back I seemed fairly well-adjusted and teachers described me as wiser than my years, I never felt comfortable in my own skin, mainly because I was discovering my own skin.
It was impossible to accept myself when I didn’t know myself. And it was impossible to build into others because I was fairly self-centered — and I didn’t know how to build into myself.
Finally when I became comfortable with who I was, I felt a greater peace. I could help others grow. And as my walk with the Lord blossomed during this time, I was able to be more patient and kind with myself.
Haven living naturally came — and it was wonderful.
Maybe you’re going through a similar phase I experienced, or maybe you’ve already come through it.
Regardless of where you are right now, do you tend to be patient and loving with yourself?
Do you look for ways to gently stretch and improve yourself, or do you tend to stick in a rut of complacency?
If you feel trapped in your own life, it’s not too late to change. But all the change starts with a shift in your focus.
Just like you personally can become a haven for others when you’re filled with the Spirit and living by his transformation, your own Spirit-filled life becomes a haven you find yourself craving. Think about it. As you long for a haven, you realize that the Lord alone can offer this for you.
Once you’re assured of an eternity in Heaven through salvation in Christ, then what happens? As you walk closely with him, you begin to find freedom. You won’t have to wonder about finding a haven … because it’s already yours.
Out of the overflow of this Holy Spirit-created personal haven, you can start creating a better haven for yourself wherever you live.
Grace upon grace
John 1:16 reminds us that “For from his (Jesus’) fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” That grace, given to us, pours out of Jesus’ fullness. He has so much grace that it overflows and blesses us.
In the same way, we can bless others out of the grace we receive from Christ. If we weren’t Christ followers, we never would receive his grace upon grace. So we wouldn’t — and just couldn’t — pass that grace on to others.
Just like a pitcher can’t overflow if it’s emptied and dry, we can’t overflow grace and the joy of a haven if we simply have never been filled with it.
But when you do have it, then you can’t help what happens — it just pours out of you. It’s that outpouring that naturally creates a personal haven that’s intriguing to others.
My friend Carmen has that sort of overflowing personality. As she walks closely with the Lord each day, the abundance of her relationship with him can’t help but splash onto everyone she meets. She’s quiet, but confident. And her encouragement and kindness naturally bubbles up and genuinely refreshes others. It’s remarkable, actually.
Carmen doesn’t take credit for any of that, though. She fully admits to needing to make the moment by moment choice to follow Jesus with her words and attitudes … or side with her flesh, instead. And her time with him is often — and rich. Because she spends quality time with him, she’s able to reflect him to people he brings along her daily path.
Carmen’s life — and our lives — can shine for Christ, like lights that can’t be extinguished. And those lights naturally create havens for people we already love and people we need to love.
Making a Plan for Meeting with the Lord
All of this living for Christ and mirroring him sounds great. But how in the world is it even possible or doable in the everyday?
First, this starts with cultivating a routine for meeting with the Lord.
Carving out regular times and spaces to meet with him is an important part of your own haven. Don’t try to wing it, hoping that everything will fall into place.
As you create a routine — both a time and a place — you’ll look forward to your quiet moments spent with the Lord. It will be easier to remember to meet with him because you’ve created a natural rhythm of your life.
To help you figure out the details, it’s helpful to consider a few things:
- Where can you spend time in the Word and in prayer in your current living space?
- Do you have your Bible, journal and pens within reach?
- If you prefer to pray with reminders — prayer cards like the example in the movie War Room — where can you put them?
My own times that I spend with the Lord have depended on my season of life.
- When I was a high school student, digging into the Word before I fell asleep each night worked best for my busy schedule.
- When I moved on to college, I could leisurely spend a chunk of time between classes each afternoon.
- As I worked full-time, breakfast-time devotionals worked well.
- When I was an exhausted mom of infants and toddlers, I tried to grab a few quiet moments with God during nap times.
- And now that my children are older, I make sure to take time in the early morning before my kids wake up and my day gets hectic.
During each of those specific seasons, I lived in different homes — and I had very specific places set aside for my time with God. In fact, whenever I moved (which happened almost every year for a while), I always missed my cozy God spots the most. From experience, I found that creating a familiar environment can help you stay focused.
Changes in attitude
Once you’ve physically set a time and place to meet with the lover of your soul, move on to your attitude and perspective.
Even if and when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit, it can be tempting to fall away from the comfort of your spiritual haven. For one, sin does an excellent job of separating you and diverting your focus from the Lord.
When you find yourself in a sin pattern, confess it to the Lord. Repent … and ask Him for help as you turn away from that sin. Then thank Him for His gift of forgiveness.
As you embrace the Lord’s sweet gift of forgiveness and internalize the promises of Christ, you’ll begin to find freedom. And you’ll embrace this sort of Spirit-filled haven living for yourself.
Surprisingly, your life will begin to change as you move past living in defeat and begin to thrive in your relationship with God.
In Max Lucado’s children’s classic, You Are Special, Punchinello, a wooden Wemmick, was trapped in living a life of defeat as he focused on how every other Wemmick viewed his failures. Only after his friend Lucia introduced him to Eli, the woodcarver, did Punchinello’s life and focus begin to radically change:
Punchinello laughed. “Me, special? Why? I can’t walk fast. I can’t jump. My paint is peeling. Why do I matter to you?”
Eli looked at Punchinello, put his hands on those small wooden shoulders, and spoke very slowly. “Because you’re mine. That’s why you matter to me.”
Punchinello had never had anyone look at him like this — much less his maker. He didn’t know what to say.
“Every day I’ve been hoping you’d come,” Eli explained. “… For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care.”
Eli lifted Punchinello off the bench and set him on the ground.
“Remember,” Eli said as the Wemmick walked out the door, “‘you are special because I made you. And I don’t make mistakes.’”
Punchinello didn’t stop, but in his heart he thought, ‘I think he really means it.’”
Just like Punchinello, our focus and perspective will begin to change for the better when we meet with our Creator.
He doesn’t make mistakes, and we are special because He made us. By relishing time spent with Him, He can begin to transform your life and renovate your unique spiritual haven.