As the school year begins or is inching closer, are you hoping to create meaningful and productive routines and habits?
Like the beginning of a new year, this time of year really has me thinking about changes that will make my life easier and better. Since I normally tend to focus on logistical things, like schedules, extracurricular activities and academics, I wanted to focus on building my routines and habits around developing faith.
I have been taught my whole life that if I will put God first, the rest of life will fall into place. I always think of the object lesson of an empty jar that needs to be filled with rocks and sand. The rocks represent the most important things in life…for example, faith, family, friends, and learning. The rocks are the things that carry the most weight in your day-to-day. Then there is the sand, which represents everything else in our life that fills up our time and uses our energy. If you put the sand into the jar first and then the rocks, it won’t fit. But if you put the rocks in first and then pour the sand in, it all fits. I believe that when our rocks come first, the sand will fit in just right and we will be more whole.
Here are some ways to make building faith a part of your daily or weekly routines:
- Start your day with a prayer. There is the saying, “You stand the tallest when you are on your knees.” This is the case for me. When I start my day conversing with God, I have a higher perspective of my day, and I feel more peaceful about what I need to do. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with my duties, but when I pray I feel an added strength. The pattern of prayer taught in the scriptures is to address Heavenly Father with respect and to ask for the things that we need and or want. Try to picture Heavenly Father as a loving father and remember that he is interested in even the small parts of your life. Prayer is a time to really connect and to ask for forgiveness and strength. If it is important to you, it is important to Him. Always ask with humility, conceding to his will despite what you really want. Then it is good to express gratitude to God who has blessed you and is eager to keep blessing you. I end my prayer in the name of Christ because it is through Christ I can be reunited with my heavenly family.
- Carve out time to study scriptures personally and as a family. To really study God’s word, it requires a quiet place, an alert mind and a willingness to ignore how much is read and pay attention to the quality of your read. Writing in a “spiritual” journal can be an awesome way to track your learning and progress. As a family, sometimes you might only get through a few verses, but if you are actually teaching a principle or concept, it is well worth the time reading. If you can’t commit to a deeper study of the scriptures, listen to them while you drive to a soccer practice or as you make dinner. You, and your family, will feel uplifted and enlightened if the scriptures are a regular part of life. The resource I use is LDS Gospel Library app on my cell phone. All of the scriptures are available in audio for free.
- Make a goal to serve someone everyday. For me, I have been pleasantly surprised that when I pray for opportunities to serve someone, they come. It is wonderful when you are praying for these chances because when the opportunity comes, you are very aware that God is leading you and the rewards of the service are enhanced. Now, for many of you, the idea of serving others might make you uncomfortable because you are already overwhelmed, but I have realized that making my family dinner on a personally hard day or sending a note of thanks in your husband’s lunch IS service. If you are a parent, your day is filled with chances to serve your family. The real challenge is enjoying the service and recognizing it as a gift. When life starts rolling along, it is easy to forget that no one in the family has to serve each other, but each person is choosing to serve because they love each other! Remember that smiles and kindness are a service and small things can have a great impact.
- Surround yourself with the best. Choose friends that make you smile, will cry with you and motivate you to be better each day. Connect with social media accounts that bring a ray of sunshine into your life or offer words of wisdom when you need it. I follow @thesmallseed on Instagram and they always have such beautiful inspiring photos and words. Select your media with care. I have recently been introduced to Pureflix.com. This is a video streaming service that offers Christian, family-friendly media. They offer a free-month trial and they have a monthly or yearly membership fee after that. I like the idea of browsing shows without seeing horrific or sexually explicit material and even more interested in having a good selection of uplifting entertainment. Listen to music and read books with positive messages. “Anything [that is] of good report or praiseworthy, seek after these things.” Article of Faith 13
- My last faith-promoting daily habit is to be involved with the organizations or activities that you love and or believe in. This could be a community project, your church congregation, camping in the mountains or painting a landscape. Jump in with both feet and don’t be ashamed. I keep a blog because I love to write and it is a way for me to connect with wonderful, like-minded people. I am also an active participant at my church and love to gather with other people who are trying to be and do good. Be in touch with yourself and your needs so that you can continue to be a force for good in your sphere and to glorify your Father in heaven.
Remember as you gear up for a new school year, make time for the rocks in your life by praying, reading scripture, serving others, surrounding yourself with the best and diving into your passions and beliefs.
I hope your school year is filled with goodness and light as you strive to strengthen your faith.