Updated: Aug 21, 2020
When I decided to rededicate my life to God everything felt difficult. Conversations I would have with friends and family weren't the same. I didn't know what to pray for and I felt lonely at times. I would actually fall asleep reading the Bible and the quiet time I spent with God was just that...quiet. I was confused when it came to the things in of the spirit realm. I didn't know how to hear God's voice. I often thought to myself "I'm making a decision to live right and everything is STILL complicated!". I became so frustrated because I didn't have all the answers when it came to submitting my life to God. The beginning struggle of getting to know God could've easily caused me to give up. The enemy surely wanted me to give in and call it quits because "it was hard". But I made a decision to push through the feelings of doubt and frustration.
So I've decided to share some reality check advice I would tell my newly saved self back then.
1. You must abandon your way of thinking!
"1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Romans 12:1&2 NLT"
I don't know about you, but before I got saved my thoughts weren't always pure (and even now). I was definitely conformed by what culture/society (this world) said was popular to do. If I thought someone wronged me I made it my business to "get back with them." I'd be at work cursing people out in my head. When the word clearly calls us to walk in love as Christ did for us even as sinners. "1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. Eph 1&2 NLT" There are countless other ways my thinking was wrong. The truth of the matter is, we are humans with sinful nature and nothing within us is pure. This includes our thinking. What I may believe is the "right" thing to do might not align with what you think is "right." That is why the word of God is the standard by which we should live. The difference from then and now is I now know the truth. I know now that I should cast down thoughts I have that are contrary to the word of God. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding Proverbs 3:5 NLT" I know that I can't allow my mind to be a playground for the enemy. So I tune myself to God's word (thinking) so I won't be misled in my thinking.
2. Submitting your life to God DOES NOT erase your problems.
I made a big mistake of thinking things would automatically be sugary sweet when I turned my life over to God. I thought that I was exempt from life's complications because I did so. I questioned my decision often because nothing felt like it had changed. Although I made the best choice I could EVER make in life...I soon found that there will still be consequences for wrong doing. Whether it's past, present, or future. Point. Blank. Period. That's why it's important we be led by the Holy Spirit in the way we live. Even as you're in relationship with the Lord the Bible tells us
["12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. 1 Peter 4:12&13 NLT"] hardships in life are inevitable. There are hardships we bring upon ourselves and there are hardships caused to mold and shape you. It's important to know the difference. However, we should be trusting God in these times and asking for godly wisdom in dealing with them.
3. You will lose friends.
So, because I had abandoned my old self and became a new creature in Christ the world around me changed. I was able to see clearly. Things that were once funny weren't anymore. Places I once went I no longer desired to go to. Things I watched and listened to that didn't bring glory to God had to go. Topics of conversation where I was once unfiltered became off limits. I followed God and what He thought about it is what I thought about it, whatever IT was. It was amazing how different people in my life responded to me. Before, conversations flowed with ease as we all agreed and talked perversely. However, when my thoughts began to align with God's people would rise up against me. This was simply because the word of God sheds light on darkness. And if you have people in your life who are not souled out for God at times they don't want to hear anything about the TRUTH. I felt like I had nothing in common with people I was once so close to. As much as I didn't want to I had to lovingly separate myself for my peace and theirs. "Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character. 1 Cor 15:33 NIV" Cutting ties with a friend or family member is hard to do, but guarding my heart was important to me. I couldn't be a new creature in Christ and still be influenced by ungodly people. This doesn't mean that you don't love them or pray for their salvation. It simply means you value you your walk with God more.
4. Prayer will start off difficult.
Praying became a difficult "task" when I got saved. Most likely because I felt it was a task. It was so many times where I fell asleep during my prayer time or just gave up altogether. I didn't know what I was supposed to be saying or how I was supposed to be saying it. In the beginning, I would talk to God like I was talking to some impersonal God. I learned that because I didn't know the will of God my prayer life was hindered. How I learned the will of God was through the word of God. The Bible tells us what God wants for us, how He feels about us, how we should live, and more. The reason I felt God was so far from me is because I didn't really know His point of view or character. Once my mind became renewed by His word it was easy to approach Him in prayer. I approached Him as who He was...my unconditional love giving Heavenly Father. I became grateful for prayer (communication with God) He knows me inside and out...who better to talk to and consult concerning my life and whatever else.
5. How do I hear God?
I think not knowing how to hear from God frustrated me most. It especially frustrated me hearing other people say they hear from Him so nonchalantly. "How do I know if that thought was the enemy, God, or me?" I would ask. I must say I made hearing from God harder than it really was. One day I was in a disagreement with someone during the time I was struggling with hearing from God. After we exchanged thoughts and started going our separate ways a thought popped into my head. "Apologize" I heard. What!? Apologize? Who? I was shocked at what I heard...I know the devil ain't out hear instructing people to apologize. And at that time my selfish and sinful nature wouldn't bring me to apologize especially in the heat of things. It could've only been God. Then it hit me. I will know when God is talking to me because He will NEVER contradict His word. "31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Eph 4:31&32 NLT" So to apologize is what God would have said. This is just a simple example, but know you can't discern the voice of God without knowing His word. When I began to hear Him it became important for me to act on what he said. God is always soaking to us...intimacy with us (His creation) is what He longs for. It is us who have to make ourselves available to listen.
6. You'll feel lonely at times.
When I decided to walk with God things got lonely. I was losing relationships with ones close to me, and I had no real godly friends who were saved to talk to. This saddened me seeing that I found Christ through loneliness. During this time God was dealing with me when it came to trusting Him. It was hard for me to let go of the relationships that meant a lot to me, but I had to trust that God would restore the friendships that I lost. And He did! I also had to trust that he was with me in my loneliness even if I didn't "feel" like he was. The Bible tells us "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Duet 31:6 NIV" I had to learn not to depend on my "feelings" because they change...and they aren't reliable or consistent. But God is the same yesterday, today and forever! So, I can trust when He says something because He is not like us. He can't go back on his word or change up because of His feelings. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Heb 13:8 NLT" Though I felt lonely it was far from the truth. I had loving Father drawing me near to Him.
7. Reading the Bible will start out boring.
Throughout my life I would occasionally attempt to read the Bible, but nothing ever made sense and I would just be flat out bored. Unfortunately, this boredom carried over into my adulthood. I had to realize that things dealing with the spirit realm and faith aren't engaging to a carnal mind. My mind was indeed carnal... and I lived to please my flesh (my own selfish desires). I wasn't trying to be corrected or convicted of my sin. So, of course my flesh would rise up against me in the disguise of boredom as I was reading what would eventually change my heart (God's word). I learned to push pass those feelings of boredom because my life depended on it! I also learned that I couldn't read the Bible as some boring text book, but as my Fathers love story. I had to make a conscious decision to change my heart towards the Bible. The enemy loved my boredom and excuses when it came to reading God's word. The more blind and knowledgeable of who I am in Christ the better it was for him. But I don't live to please him so I had to trust God and ask Him to lead me, reveal to me, and help me in seeking Him through His word. And sure enough He did!
8. You don't have to be boring too have a relationship with God!
I made the mistake of thinking that because I surrendered my life to God I had to be this hum drum boring plain Jane. I thought fun was a thing of the past. Praise God, that was far from the case! I found TRUE joy when I found God. Everything else I was occupied with that I thought was worthwhile was really temporary fixes until I found another way to pass time. He is the reason for every good thing so it's impossible to be bored in relationship with God. "Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. James 1:17 NLT" The Lord is so creative...he made each of us unique. Each race, language, animal, form of art, music genre etc. were all created by Him. He is too creative of a God to want us to all be the same. God wants us to live life abundantly...what kind of abundant life is boring? "The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10 NLT"
Getting to know God is a worthwhile journey and the most useful way to spend your time. Although, different feelings may make you feel otherwise overcome them and press forward like your life depends on it....because it does!