Confession #150: Ladies (& Gentlemen) Bible Studies Do Not Have To Be Cute
Okay friends, let’s get real.
People often say it takes three weeks to form a new habit. I, however, have never found this to be true. Ever since my teens I have tried, though rather unsuccessfully, to master all sorts of skills. Knitting, playing the guitar, crafting, Pilates, and gluten-free diets have been just a few.
My routine never changes. I become overly enthusiastic about something new, commit to it for three weeks time, and then reward myself with a work out break, a skipped lesson, and a deep-dish pizza. And then it’s done. Over. Feeling guilty, I throw in the towel and decide I will just try again another time, however I usually never do.
Although I put on a good front, I have always struggled to be a self-disciplined person. I am easily motived by the expectations of others or deadlines. I have always been a great student and employee because I long to please and keep a good image. But leave me by myself and I easily give up.
I grew up in the Christian faith. Going to church since I was a newborn I gave my life to Christ at the gentle age of 11, went on to study Biblical theology and Psychology in college, and later became a missionary at 24. You’d think, considering the facts, that I’d be highly disciplined in the ways of all things spiritual. You’d think I was a master at memorizing scripture, meditation, prayer, and personal Bible study. But truth be told, I am not. In fact, spiritual discipline is something I struggle with daily.
And that’s not easy to admit. I am a “missionary” after all. Spiritual disciplines should be what I do best, but they aren’t. Not even by a long shot.
Daily I glance through Instrgram and Facebook and marvel at all the women who post pictures of their morning Bible studies. Their journals filled with color coded notes and beautiful typography (Which by the way, when did everyone start learning how to do this?), their Bibles open, and their shabby chick coffee mugs filled to the brim. Their study time always seems to take place near a freshly picked vase of flowers, or beside a newly lit fireplace, or in the comfort of a big cozy chair. Although the pictures are lovely I can’t help but to wonder who these women are. What mother has the discipline to get up before nursing, diapers, breakfast, school, and work to have such beautiful study time? Then take pictures and post it on social media nonetheless? Normally my Bible studies are nestled beside a sleeping toddler in a bed full of unfolded laundry under a mosquito net. I love cute. But who has the time?
Lately though, I have been so hungry for the knowledge of Christ. I have craved the Scriptures like I daily crave Double Stuffed Oreos. Comparing myself to all the cute Bible study women on social media has been tempting. There is just no way I will ever measure up. So I recently decided to put them aside. Knowing personal discipline was a weakness, I reflected on my past of giving up. And only after confessing my failures and casting aside the sin of coveting did God assure my heart of these three things:
- Bible study does not have to be cute. I love cute journals and colored pencils and pretty little coffee mugs. Truly I do. If you are someone who can have your Bible study time and make it look like an ad from an Anthroologie catalog props to you. I hope one day you invite me over for a book club. But in this season on my life, with three kids all under the age of ten and a house full of teenagers I am responsible for in Haiti, this is just not practical. And that is okay. Having time with God does not have to be cute. My Bible studies do not need to be Instagram worthy. As long as my heart is present, so will God.
- God is not a God of time. One of my greatest issues with discipline has always been my inability to follow a schedule. My days are always so different. The time I gave yesterday is not the time I can give today and probably won’t be the time I can give tomorrow either. So I have learned to be flexible. Some days I can have quiet time in the mornings while my husband covers breakfast. Some days it is between homeschool and work. And other days it isn’t until I get all the little ones tucked in at night. God is not a God of time and I know that no matter what time of day I come, he will be waiting for me.
- I will not be ashamed. Let’s just be honest. I am not perfect, by any means. (Shocker, right?) Some days wear me thin and in my alone time Netflix seems so much easier on my brain. This used to make me feel guilty, but not anymore. If I miss a day, it is okay. I will not be ashamed. There is always tomorrow.
To be spiritually disciplined is a choice, and I don’t believe it is one we can ever truly master. It is a choice we have to wake up and decide everyday. Whatever works for you will work for God. He doesn’t care how cute the scenery or what time of day it is. As long as your heart is present, he will meet you there. Realizing this truth has been so freeing and if you struggle at all like me, I hope it offers you some comfort too.
Now how about you? What does your daily Bible study time look like? Hunter snagged this photo above of me yesterday. This is real life ya’ll. Today I’m sharing this picture on Instagram. (Find me at jillianinhaiti) Because cute Bible study time is wonderful and all, but so is one with a sleeping baby and the Hulk. Join me today and share you own real life Bible study picture. Post with the hashtag #everydaybiblestudy and I’ll repost your picture! Hope to see you on Instagram!