This past week I went to a women’s event that focused on building happy habits. Mary DeMuth spoke about the fact that we can do anything, every day for 23 minutes. And spending those 23 minutes every day focused on one thing can make it a habit. She talked about tying the things we love together with the new habit so that we are encouraged to actually engage in the new habit. One of the main things I wanted to focus on was getting healthy. Working out every day. And I did work out for three days in a row. I reminded myself that I could do anything for 23 minutes, and I did. Even with a baby pulling on my legs and wanting to be held while I was attempting to work out, I did it. I completed what I set out to do and it felt great.
Then I woke up this morning. Sore. And tired from a baby not sleeping well at all and demanding all of my attention all of the time. And I realized something. Rather than focusing on exercise to make me happy and feel good about myself, I should be practicing self love. Taking care of myself means that occasionally I have to take a day off from a work out. Because taking time to love myself, whether that’s through exercise or a bit of extra sleep or taking time to listen to a podcast or read a book. All of those things are important. So while exercise is one of the most important factors in getting healthy, it’s not something I can jump into and go full out on and except to be able to function every day.
Habits are built by starting small. Perhaps by realizing where you want to be and taking baby steps to get there. A baby doesn’t just start out walking. We’ve watched Sarabeth try for months to sit up on her own until one day, about 5 months later, she actually managed to sit up on her own in her crib. But first, she worked to strengthen her legs by standing in our laps or on furniture. And she practiced holding herself up on all fours before she figured out how to move her arms forward and her legs so that she could actually crawl. And it took about a week from when she realized she could move herself before she started crawling towards anything she wanted to inspect without us encouraging her to move towards us. Sarabeth started small and is moving towards big things. Any day now, she’ll be able to stand for more than 20 seconds without supporting herself and then she’ll start walking. She’s gotten there by watching others and struggling through. Whenever Eric or I stepped in to help her, it set her back because she wasn’t able to work through it on her own. The struggle was just as important as the end result.
As I’ve been learning about prayer and thinking about my own struggles with developing a prayer life something clicked today. I’ve often gotten frustrated with myself, or down on myself and given up because I couldn’t maintain what I set out to do in the first place. I viewed prayer as a pass or fail. I either succeeded or I didn’t. And that was the wrong way to view things. I was letting myself get in the way of the end goal that I had in mind.
So now, I’m going to start approaching prayer differently. Prayer isn’t a pass or fail task. Prayer is a habit that can be built. Just like exercise or self love, a prayer habit can be built in 23 minutes. Perhaps you are like me and you need to create some structure to that habit. And perhaps you’re like me and that means you have to try out several different ways of praying before you find one that helps you communicate best with God.
Create some space somewhere in your house that is just for prayer. And study. And time with God. Carve out a place not marred by electronics and social media and distractions. Perhaps that means you light a candle to remind you that you are in holy space. Perhaps you are surrounded by photos of your loved ones. Perhaps some of your favorite knick knacks are there. Your favorite mug filled with tea or coffee or Dr. Pepper or water. But it’s your space. Your holy ground. It could be inside. Or outside. In a corner or the middle of the floor. Make it holy. And meet God there. Invite him into that space and keep it sacred.
When Eric and I first started talking about turning Be The Proof into a blog, we created that sacred space for me. And he told me not to bring my cell phone to the chair. Or my iPad. But I didn’t listen, and that sacred space is not quite as sacred as it started out to be. But I didn’t fail, because I can begin rebuilding that happy habit once again. I don’t have to quit trying just because I didn’t get it right this time. I have to try again. And start over. And rethink the way I’ve built my space.
Share a little bit about your sacred space in the comments. We’d love to see how you’ve created your space for you and God.
In case you missed any of the #BTPPrayer series, click HERE to see what you’ve missed!