At the beginning of 2018, I received a Word (two to be exact) from Holy Spirit. "Be Intentional". Although the words are simple, I know God's plans to elevate me can only come through my focus and intentionality, which emcompasses all areas of my life. My spiritual life. My marriage. My children. My business. My community. Everything.
After I understood and received those instructions, I developed a regular daily routine. I began each day with prayer and scripture-based affirmations, read and declared God's Word, reviewed outlines and notes from church services and applied what I learned to my life, all with the intention of thriving and pleasing God. I could see my spiritual growth day by day and my days ran more smoothly because of my diligence and consistency. Sure, there were challenging days but because I was focused, I overcame them, with God.
Then came summer...
Having the girls home during their summer break meant I, too, was on a break. At first I stuck to my normal daily routine. But as the days of summer progressed, my routine became more relaxed and carefree.
I didn't have to wake up early and drive them to school, so I slept in later. After finally rolling out of bed, I would go for my daily walk while listening to my exercise music that pumped loudly in my ear so I would stay motivated. Once back home, I would shower and go into my office and complete editing projects for my company, TC Edits. Sometimes I would let music play in the background to help with my focus. When night came, while LT and the girls gathered around the tv for a movie or played a game, I'd be in the corner playing games or scrolling down my social media feeds on my phone. At night, rather than going to sleep at a decent hour or cuddling up next to LT, I stayed up indulging in one of my guilty pleasures - watching clean with me videos and family vlogs on YT. You'd be surprised how many videos exist showing you epic cleaning tips and fun-filled family vacations. Not to mention the others about how to get THE perfect wash and go on your natural hair or home decor shopping. (I digress.) Because my sleep schedule was so off, whenever I would wake up during the night, I would mindlessly grab my phone and play a round or two of a word or mental-challenge game before dozing back to sleep. (Yes, those are the same games that would continue throughout the day into the evening.) The next day the cycle would continue.
If you ask a fitness coach for the key to living a healthier lifestyle, most will advise that along with exercise, you will see more positive results from limiting your junk food intake. Well, the same is true for your spiritual growth as well: You will see more positive results when you limit your intake of junk food (aka distractions) and increase your intake of Soul Food (things like developing a prayer life, reading and doing God's Word, and hearing and listening to God's voice). It's a fact that while junk food tastes good while it is being consumed, the euphoria is short lived and the negative side effects can derail your goals.
With this in mind, it should have come as no surprise when my "spiritual body" began to change for the worst. It didn't happen overnight. It was subtle. But it happened. Things that wouldn't bother me months before, began to irritate me, like thorns. I became ultra-sensitive. I became short-tempered. The smallest infractions would send me into fits of silent rage. Tiffany the Tyrant was in full effect. For instance, if LT put away his work bag before giving me a hello kiss, I would pout for the rest of the evening. If he lounged on the couch without touching or acknowledging me, I just knew that meant he didn't love me anymore. If one of the girls left a sock on the floor, I would threaten their lives (and I definitely meant it at the time). Yes, I was in my feelings and the tension in the house was high because of it. It came to the point where I was a fragile mess.
But it's one thing for others to notice and steer clear of you and quite another when you can see you for yourself. This time, I was able to recognize my behavior, but I couldn't pinpoint why I was acting this way. Not wanting to accept responsibility for my emotions, I blamed it on being tired and/or my "womanly hormones" and/or everyone/everything else but me.
After a few weeks of this going on (he refused to play into my antics), LT and I were talking (more like I was venting about how he'd hurt my feelings, yet again... sigh). He listened patiently, asked what he could do to help me and when I was finally finished talking/ranting, he gave me simple words of truth (as only he can). Even though he geniously used himself in his example, I knew his words applied to me:
"I've come to the point where I know that how I start and end my day matters. If I don't start my day reading God's Word and declaring it throughout the day, my whole day is off...I could react negatively to things if I am not in my Word and mindful of the things that I listen to, watch and what I allow to engage in..."
With those few words, my heart was pricked and I knew I had subtly allowed junk food to take over and keep me from what I knew to do, "Be Intentional". I was ingesting loads of junk food and cutting out good, sustainable nourishment in the process. You see, the things I thought were harmless had become detrimental to my spiritual being. Unintentionally, I replaced prayer, reading, declaring and applying God's Word with distractions and it was showing! In today's world, so many distractions exist. Social media, politics, news, smartphone apps, people...the list is infinite. However, we must make a choice to limit them when they become priorities.
"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." ~Isaiah 26:3
Although my summer spiritual hiatus was short-lived, I'm back to my senses. Since our talk, I've gotten back on track and the benefits were instantaneous. There is laughter in our household, less cracks in our foundation which limit opportunities for the enemy to strike. I also have more energy because I'm not just laying on the couch watching life go by. Yet, as with any other challenge I may face, there are days when my desire to consume Soul Food doesn't come easily. I know that those are the days when I MUST continue to be diligent because the results are far more desirable than consuming the junk food. Yet, there is a balance. I can still watch YT and play games, but only after I've handled my business. And not in place of it.
I also realize that as a stay at home wife and mother, I have the ability to shape the mood and atmosphere for our household. Maybe that is where the phrase "Happy Wife, Happy Life" was derived. The atmosphere I set at home encourages and enables LT to do the same in his workplace. It also encourages and enables our daughters to do it in their schools. You see, what I ingest and allow into my body impacts others!!
Here's a short visual about what happens when you ingest junk food vs. Soul Food.
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