"Be Gentle with Yourself": How God Speaks to Me
Tuesday, November 15, 2011Tweet
Emmy asked, "How do you personally know when God is talking to you? What ways does he speak to you?"
I don't know if anyone can say with 100% certainty when God is speaking to them. As Jen points out, people have done atrocious things when supposedly following God's call. And few people claim to hear God speak to them audibly (probably because that's considered a mental problem in our culture).
So just as with prayers and miracles, I don't rest my faith solely on my belief that God communicates with me, because I acknowledge that I could be totally wrong. On the other hand, I don't see a reason to entirely disregard these calls just because I don't have concrete proof that they're "real."
In my experience, God speaks to me in three main ways: through my thoughts, through my feelings, and through my words. (I say "my," but the reason I consider them God speaking is because they're usually out of the blue and not something in my conscious control.)
The first two are related: Sometimes when I'm in church, my mind will be wandering on nothing in particular when I will suddenly have an epiphany about something, either a new way of thinking about a situation or a thought of something specific I should do, and I will be filled with an equally sudden feeling of peace or conviction. It might be something I've been stressing over for a while, and suddenly I will think, "Do this," and I immediately realize it's the right solution.
I've also found that sometimes when I'm blogging, or more often when I'm commenting on someone else's blog, about matters of faith, God, and love, I'll find the words just coming as I type. It doesn't happen often, but when it does I just let go and kind of trust that God is speaking through me.
But the most interesting thing I've found is that sometimes when I'm praying, I will find myself praying for things that don't even make any sense to me. Kind of like this woman who felt called to pray for an unknown person named Helen. I always pray before I eat, so my prayers over breakfast usually consist of thanking God for providing me with food and asking that I might be a good wife, employee, friend, etc. during the day.
But a few months ago I found myself adding in "Help me to be gentle with myself" or "Help me to be patient with myself."
I'm still not entirely sure what that means, but it's something I've been trying to do more lately. I would imagine it's related to taking care of myself, physically and mentally, but I think it's more than that. It's about having compassion for myself. It's about not over-committing myself, and not stressing out when I don't measure up to imaginary standards I've set for myself. It's having the permission to forgive myself when I make a mistake or embarrass myself. It's allowing myself to fail, and moving on.
I think about what a caring mentor looks like, or a loving parent, for that matter. Someone who cheers you on and cheers you up, who holds you to a high standard but tells you it's OK when you fall short. I may not have God's voice in my ear all the time giving me encouragement and forgiving my shortcomings, but I think He's trying to help me become that for myself. Maybe He's preparing me to be that for my future children.
How does God speak to you? Are there any messages you've been hearing over and over?