Getting out the Door
When I complain that I don’t have enough motivation to get out the door and go running, my sister-in-law often reminds me: “That’s what separates the runners from the non-runners.”
She’s quoting a line I often give to her. Anyone can run, the difference is just that some people actually do. I’ve been a runner for years, and I still have a hard time just getting myself out the door. I don’t think that challenge ever goes away.
Developing your spiritual life works the same way as developing a fitness routine. Anyone can do it: what matters is that you go do it. The advice below isn’t anything new or fancy or complicated because I believe that what you do doesn’t matter as much as that you do it.
What separates a plateaued spiritual life from a thriving one is just getting out the proverbial door.
5 ways to jump start your spiritual life
Get a different perspective
I’m not speaking metaphorically here. I mean literally changing your usual point of view. Lay on your kitchen floor, pray from inside your closet, go barefoot for a few hours, roll down a hill, get into your house by climbing through a window, walk home on a different street.
I’m often amazed at what I miss because I’ve become dissociated from what I’m doing, which is too bad because earth’s crammed with heaven.
If you know you want something different in your spiritual life, you need to tell someone. Preferably multiple someones. Tell God — meaning pray about what you want. Tell your support system — meaning call on the people who care about you for encouragement and accountability.
And if someone in particular is involved in the change you want, tell them. If you want a deeper relationship with her, ask her over for dinner. If you want some empathy and compassion, ask him for it. If you want more worship time, ask friends to join you. You might not get a ‘yes,’ but the act of stating what you want is clarifying and freeing in itself.
In order to do this, you’re probably going to have to re-frame your idea of prayer. If you’re not a big fan of being seen talking to yourself in public, put in an earpiece and talk to God on the phone. Sometimes, when I feel words aren’t enough, I make up songs. Write daily gratitude lists, practice the spiritual examen at night, designate certain doors as “pray-ways” and commit to praying every time you walk through that particular door, do yoga, walk a labyrinth, find a new worship service, recruit a prayer partner, write prayers on your walls, set up an altar in your bedroom.
Whatever prayer practices you develop, they should work for you. It isn’t about quotas or answers or self-pressure or expectations. It’s about opening your heart a little bit wider every chance you get.
Talk to someone very young or very old
Children and elders have incredible wisdom, and, generally, they love to share it! If you find yourself asking tough questions in your own faith journey, ask those same tough questions to someone profoundly brilliant, like a 5-year-old. Or make friends with one of the seniors in your community and ask them to share a time when they learned a valuable life lesson. I’m telling you, stories are everywhere.
Learn your Enneagram type
I first learned about the Ennegram personality types from my spiritual director. I find the Enneagram more helpful than other personality typographies because it is geared towards self-understanding and personal development. Knowing my own tendencies and weaknesses has helped me deepen my self-acceptance and learn to move through those places where I get “stuck” more easily. Becoming familiar with other Enneagram types has helped me to understand other people (especially those who annoy or scare me) and tap into the strengths they bring to the table. This has been one of the most powerful tools I’ve found for personal and relational growth.
All kinds of great books have been written about the Enneagram. Fr. Richard Rohr has written about the Enneagram from a Christian perspective. Don Riso wrote a series of Releases and Affirmations for each type that I find both healing and convicting. Talk about spiritual growth! [In case you’re curious, friends, I’m a 6.]
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What do you do when your spiritual life needs a jump start? What practices have you found most helpful for growing spiritually?