FINDING BALANCE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF SPIRITUAL SOLITUDE
I had a dramatic lifestyle change when I got saved. Most things went– the music I listened to, the places I frequented, some not-so-good recreational habits, personality traits I’d developed and even some of the friendships I had. This was totally necessary for me and the natural progression of my spiritual journey. I formally entered into my “Season of Obscurity” that I mentioned in FOMO. I became rooted in the word, very focused on nurturing my relationship with God, and “cleaned out my closet”, facing my vices head on.
Things got interesting when my desire to be pleasing to God and live in moral excellence became extreme– Manifesting through OD self-denial. I started wearing the same looking, drab, oversized, wrinkly gray/black outfits, for months. What started as a minimalism effort/wardrobe overhaul– Turned into me purposefully looking disheveled because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. And, to be completely honest, I thought it made me a more focused Christian. Some of y’all know I love fashion– so you get how cray cray that is. I'd also stopped going out. I knew God was putting me through a season of abstaining from alcohol– But this evolved into me avoiding social outings completely out of extreme discipline and fear of having too much fun/“messing up”.
I later found out what asceticism was in a small group. I instantly looked like that side eye emoji because my intense self-discipline and rules sounded very similar to this! Warren Wiersbe discusses it in his book Be Complete (Colossians)– Where Paul addresses the church at Colossae.
“An ascetic practices rigorous self-denial...in order to become more spiritual...often subject[ing] himself to rules and regulations: “Touch not; taste not; handle not.”
“...Paul was not counseling us to be rebels, but he was warning us not to think we are spiritual because we obey certain rules and regulations that pertain to the body. ”
I had to identify the difference between what God was actually asking of me in that season, and the made-up regulations I was imposing on myself for a myriad of reasons. I was taking it to the extreme. God ain't say dress in giant wrinkly clothing and don't be in any social setting, ever.
COMING TO CENTER
furthest from the center or a given point; outermost.
Just this past week, I’ve felt myself come to a monumental place of balance in my lifestyle. I don’t have to function in complete isolation in order to feel confident in my relationship with God. I have the ability to go out without *tweaking*, I’m thoughtfully dressing the way I want to dress, I can listen to select secular music, lol– And just be me without compromising my morals or losing my “saltiness”. I feel...normal! LOL! As one grows in the faith and their walk, a personal lifestyle sweet spot is established. This is spiritual maturity! I'ma do me, with God! I spent some time in the book of Ecclesiastes this week when looking for (googling) verses about balance. So good.
...don’t be too good or too wise! Why destroy yourself? On the other hand, don’t be too wicked either. Don’t be a fool! Why die before your time? Pay attention to these instructions, for anyone who fears God will avoid both extremes. Ecclesiastes 7:15-18
THERE'S A SEASON FOR EVERYTHING
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. ...A time to plant and a time to harvest. ...A time to embrace and a time to turn away. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, 5
fully ENJOY LIFE (WITH A REVERENCE FOR/FEAR OF GOD)
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.
And I know that whatever God does is final. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it. God’s purpose is that people should fear him. What is happening now has happened before, and what will happen in the future has happened before, because God makes the same things happen over and over again. Ecclesiastes 3:11-15
Simply stated, perfection is unrealistic and not even expected. Balance and a genuine desire to be pleasing to God is attainable. We can expect to go through many seasons in life. Spiritual solitude is awesome but needs to be closely monitored so it doesn't get corrupted by our own ways. This is my interpretation and personal experience!
8 KEYS for finding BALANCE
A healthy lifestyle balance is like a reward! It’s a challenge to get to a place of functioning in the world and not being of the world– But it's totally doable. Some tips on getting to this point below!
1. DEALING WITH THE DARK PLACES
You have to deal with the dark places. dependencies + co-dependencies, addictions, vices. Whatever you hide away in your closet, figuratively speaking. Only you and God know what that is. I am a huge advocate for getting out of the sin you don't want to to tell anyone about...I just know how much it delays relational growth with God. Grace is available.
2. SPIRITUAL SOLITUDE (FOREVER ON MY LIST)
My fave! A season of obscurity or solitude to refocus/center yourself on God, and break bondages of sin as mentioned above. Establish healthy habits. Get well versed in the word. Just be careful not to OD like me! Lol! As mentioned above, I felt like my newfound balance was a gift after going through this focused season.
God’s not trying to hold you back from the great things in life. He’s actually trying to give them to you. (The ones you actually want– like love, joy, fun, peace, prosperity, BALANCE etc.) If you try to find a work around that skips out on God’s way, to satisfy your own desires quicker– You just delay your real blessings. God wants you to have fun!!!! I have fun LOL. Be obedient. He knows we’re not perfect, we just gotta do our best and he fills in the rest lovingly.
4. ROUTINE + PREPaRATION
Having a daily/weekly routine totally fosters balance. It leaves less room for accidental tweaks like a happy hour that turns into missing work the next day. Prepare for your week. Become disciplined with what you have. You’ll be surprised with what God is preparing you for long term! When we focus and give order to our lives, we reap the benefits.
We are to avoid extremes. Binging on anything is not good even if it sounds harmless. I’m over here trying to figure out why these videos of people eating chips and crab legs with the sound cranked up seems like porn. LOL. I be having to click away! Your number 5 may be your number 1 depending on a few factors.
6. SCRIPTURAL FOUNDATION + PRAYER
Become familiar with texts on balance and obedience, like those mentioned above. Pray to be led not into temptation, for discernment, focus, and that you’d be able to function in the world but not be of the world. Pray for the ability to have fun without compromising your principles and faith!
7. THE COMPANY YOU KEEP
Who you surround yourself with tends to influence your definition of what’s okay and what’s not okay. What’s cool about spending time alone and having a personal spiritual journey is that you reach your sweet spot independently. I feel more equipped than ever to not be swayed in a direction I know I don’t need to go. Whether you go through that or not, it still matters who you surround yourself with.
8. DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP
I just learned this. Self-condemnation is wack. Thinking God is mad at you is wack! God loves unconditionally. Just make sure you are honestly pursuing 1., 3., and 4. God is cooler than we think. He’s forgiving. Reaching lifestyle balance includes fully understanding God’s unchanging love. It does not ebb and flow. He’ll definitely alert you if he wants you to shift gears, out of love.
Thank you for reading!
Tell me what you think! Also doing a Q&A soon so e-mail any questions!!!!!!!!