7 Ways To Better Yourself This New Year

Don’t overextend yourself

“ Before I was born God chose me and called me by His marvelous grace.”- Galatians 1:15 

I go to a college where everyone is involved in as much as they possibly can be. And the thing is everyone brags about it. We flaunt our extracurricular and 400 level classes like badges of honor and saying “I’m just so busy,” is a quote of pride, not annoyance. The truth is, it’s ok sometimes to say no to things so that you can put your best foot forward in other areas. God wants to use you, but He can’t use you very well if every day you find yourself with barely enough time to give to Him.

You won’t be less of a Christian because you aren’t involved in two ministries on campus and lead your own bible study. You won’t be less of a person because you have a difficult semester and choose to have a social life and focus on one activity. You aren’t a bad person to spend less time investing in friends that blow you off. You can’t always be the best at everything, be everyone’s best friend, and love Jesus the most. Don’t try to do it all because God has a specific plan for you, but He also has a specific plan for your roommate and the person that lives down the hall from you. Don’t waste your opportunities or accidentally take the opportunities of another.

Be intentional with your relationships

“Two are better than one, because they have good return on their work; if one falls down his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!”- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 

College is an amazing time in your life to meet new people, focus only on yourself, and basically have unsupervised parental fun. Make the most of it. If you don’t take the time now to make plans and be intentional with the great friendships you have, they are going to fade away. This is the only time in your life where your best friends live literally feet away from you. Take the time to stay up late talking to your roommate, have weekly lunch dates with the person you’ve always wanted to get to know better or a friend you’ve neglected and encourage one another in Christ. It’s never too late to work on being a better friend. So this new year try to become the type of friend you would want to be friends with, the type of friend God calls us all to be.

Stop defining yourself by social media

“ You are worth more than many sparrows.” – Matthew 10:31

“He rescued me because He delighted in me.”- Psalm 18:19   

Sadly if you’re reading this blog that probably means you aren’t famous. You not likely to get over a thousand likes on any of your tweets or pictures you post. You aren’t Sarah Vickers, and people are not going to be looking to you for fashion advice just because you got bean boots for Christmas and you took an artsy pic of them in the snow. It can be so hard for our generation to not constantly judge ourselves based on our followings on social media, or how many likes our Instagram photos got. I find myself sometimes planning photos and tweets to post at just the right time to get ample amount of likes. I even sometimes will pull a post if it doesn’t get the likes I expect in an hour. Isn’t that ridiculous?

There are so many perks to social media, but one of the downsides is becoming too focused and obsessed with getting this many likes or this many mentions. I can tell you one thing for certain. When we face God at the end of our lives, He isn’t going to let us into heaven because we got 90 likes on that selfie we took.  He is going to ask us why we spent so much time online instead of focusing on furthering His kingdom? He is going to ask us why we weren’t able to comfort a friend because we were checking Twitter simultaneously? He’s going to ask us why we felt the need to post pictures of our Bibles artistically placed next to our cups of coffee on a cold winter morning, but never lived that scripture out in real life?

Don’t let people’s perceptions of you online define you. God already defined you as lovely, saved, worthwhile, treasured, and beautiful. Ask yourself why you need more? What has happened to us that all we use the internet for is to make people feel bad that they aren’t having as much “fun” as us? Why do we panic if we don’t get a picture with our friends for Instagram when we hang out? Why do we feel empty inside when we choose to stay in on a Friday night and look at all our friends having a “blast” on their snap stories? We are missing memories as we are carelessly loading photos to all our social media accounts. We are missing great conversations about real topics as we have to stop to snap our friends the picture of the Starbucks we just got. We are afraid to be real with someone so we hide behind our phone screens. We think the snippet of devotion we glance at on our phone on our way to class is enough to nourish us spiritually for the day.

So this new year enjoy your phone, but not more than you enjoy the people around you. Don’t become so enthralled with your followers that you forget to take time to follow the only one that matters.

Read the Bible in a year or dedicate time to God daily

“ Therefore, I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” – Romans 12:1-2. 

I’ve never read the Bible in a whole year, so this year I’ve decided to try it. One of the websites I contribute for, Tirzah, is having a year of devotions linked to reading the Bible in a year. You can sign up for email updates daily at the bottom of this article!

It’s never too late to start a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Even if it’s just in the first 10 minutes you get up every morning, or choosing to pray instead of listening to music on your way to work, these little steps can help you get into a better relationship with the God of the universe. If you have a more advanced devotional time, try journaling, meditating, or nature walks as new exciting ways to worship God. Whatever works for you, figure it out and then dedicate time to God every day. Not in the last 5 minutes of your day as you fall asleep, not interrupted when your roommate starts talking to you in your room, not put off so you can “figure out a time tomorrow” do it today. Find some quiet time with God every day and it will open up your life to a great relationship that never will disappoint.

Sometimes you need to be weak to show your inner strength

“ That is why for Christ’s sake I delight in hardships, in persecution, in insults, in difficulties, in weaknesses. For when I am weak then I am strong.”- 2 Corinthians 12:10

“Who comforts us in all our troubles, so we may comfort those in trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”- 2 Corinthians 1:4   

This past semester I struggled with some anxiety that finally resulted in me being diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. If you know me well at all, you know that I am the person that loves to be there for everyone else. Having a crisis, I’m here. Need prayer, take a seat. Need to talk about emotional things, let’s get a meal date because I’m your girl. I love playing that role and being strong for other people when they can’t be strong for themselves. I am, however, not so good at being weak. Not so good at coming to other people when I need prayer, and the queen of bottling everything up until I burst. I have learned this semester that there is nothing wrong with seeking counsel from friends, nothing weak about meeting with a counselor at your college’s counseling center to get the help you need, and nothing weak about God’s love.

He wants us to stop relying on ourselves and rely on Him alone. Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson the hard way this past semester. God surrounded me with the exact right people I needed during this storm of my life, friends who I had prayed over before who started praying for me, friends that calmed me in the midst of panic attacks, and friends who walked me to the counseling center when I was too scared to go in by myself. Satan wants us to hide our struggles in the dark so that we feel ashamed and feel weak, but don’t forget that with God we can never be weak. We alone our victorious. So don’t be afraid to lean on the people God has granted to be in your life, or of using your struggles to be leaned on in the future. Finally, don’t ever be afraid to cry out to God because He will always rescue you, even if it means diving in after you.

Point to God, not yourself

“He must become greater; I must become less.”- John 3:30 

This is something I have really been struggling with a lot lately. Because when we point other people to God we need to make sure we are pointing them to Him and not to ourselves. As Christians, it can be so easy to slip into hypocrisy because we think what we are doing is benefiting God when it’s really only benefiting our egos. Examples of this could be always signing your name on cards when you encourage people with scripture and blessings of God because you do want them to know YOU thought of them. It can be as simple as always being the one to talk at bible study because you want people to know how on fire you are for God. It can be using someone’s weakness as a way to gossip, “ Did you hear that Mary fell back into her depression, poor thing we really need to pray for her.” And let’s not forget the constant stream of song lyrics and “All to Jesus I surrender” we post on social media every Sunday.

We don’t like to admit we do these things, but we do. The amazing thing is that God can still use our not so great intentions for good and to bless those around us. Yes, God has gifted us with amazing gifts and talents, but we are nothing without Him. We need to be pointing others to Him and not to our selfish hearts. This year be open to encouraging and loving other people where God calls you to, but in a way that doesn’t point back to you. Maybe that means sending anonymous notes of encouragement, letting others take the prayer after a meeting, and letting God use your talents for His good not your good.

He must become greater; I must become less.

Live by that code.

Enjoy the little things

The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like the flowers of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.”- Psalm 103:15  

Life goes by so quickly that in a blink of an eye we are done with high school, then done with college, and then starting jobs in the real world. We are so focused on the coming up that we forget to enjoy the right now. To enjoy and relish in those late night talks about boys and live in a college dorm room.  To enjoy dancing around a room to silly songs with your best friends as you get ready for a dance. To enjoy the random Saturday afternoons when you hunker in and have a movie marathon. To enjoy the days in practice when you get the opportunity to push yourself to your breaking point by some of your best friends.

As I look to the next three semesters I have in college I want to make the most of those memories. Because as much as I will continue to do my best in my classes and get my 8 hours of sleep, I definitely know that when I look back at my college experience, the regrets I will have are the experiences and memories I missed making with some of the best friends of my life. So whatever you have planned for the next year make sure it has plenty of laughing until you cry, regretting eating so much food, spoiling friends, encouraging others, and of course learning to love our Savior more than all of it put together.

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