Healthy Soul/Lessons Learned/Living Out Your Faith/My Life/Teen Life 5 Things You Should Stop Right Now if You Want to be Holy by Luke Heffernan Doubt crept into my mind. How could a loving God let this happen to my friend? Fear set in. Would God ever call me to do that? Slowly, my spiritual life seemed to bring more problems than solutions. I wondered, was I doing something wrong? After many conversations, prayer, and a much-needed retreat, I found some clarity. There were ways I had lost sight of God and the simple, but difficult, path Christ has given me to get to Him. Some bad habits had snuck into my life. I had grown lazy, comfortable, and indifferent. My questions for God were numerous, but I didn’t bother to ask Him anything. My faith was stagnant, and I could feel it. In order to restore my relationship with God, I had to let go of the bad habits, the habits that were draining and confusing me. It took some self-reflection and prayer to identify and understand them, and replace them with the better life of Christ, but here are a few things I discovered I had to let go of before I could grow in holiness: 1. Being Lazy Laziness does not always mean doing nothing, as there are lots of ways to be lazy while “doing things.” Rather, laziness is a distortion of priorities. For example, playing the piano when I should be working on my history essay can actually be a form of laziness. Yes, playing the piano is productive and beautiful, but since studying should be a higher priority, I am avoiding my responsibility when I choose playing piano over studying. When it comes to our spiritual lives, laziness means we have mis-prioritized God. We may be choosing the comfort of our bed over listening to our parents and mowing the lawn. We may be choosing social comfort over becoming friends with that student we see eating alone everyday. Jesus calls us to a high standard of living, a narrow gate, that will bear fruit “a hundredfold” if we live this way. But in order to do so, we need to prioritize Christ’s will above everything else in our lives. Being free from laziness allows us to place Him at the center, bringing love and righteousness to our actions, because they are correctly prioritized. 2. Complaining Complaining is a form of inaction. We hide our own need for improvement by highlighting the negative aspects of other things. I, personally, find myself using complaining as a way of stalling. Instead of addressing the fact that I haven’t prayed for a few days, I focus on how my Church is failing to help me do x, y, or z. My complaints become convenient excuses that hide my deeper needs. To fight this habit, I focus on one positive thing I can do. Maybe it’s complimenting a friend, or spending more time reading the Gospel. Whatever it is, by recognizing my need for improvement and taking action, I avoid the negative mindset that leads to complaining. 3. Obsessing over Perfection “Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing”– Harriet Braiker I was in a small group once, talking about how I didn’t know how if my prayers were working. I was praying but felt nothing, and figured something was wrong with my prayer style. Then one friend shared an insightful comment. “There’s not really a best way to pray.” I stopped and thought about it. He was right. An overwhelming need for perfection had found its way into my prayer life. I was looking for a perfect prayer that would fill me with good feelings and miraculously make everything in my life the way I wanted it, but that type of prayer doesn’t actually exist. When we admit that we are human beings, imperfect and in need of a perfect Savior, God will show us our true value, as an amazing human being, made perfect in His image. 4. Blindly Believing When it comes to faith, Jesus promises us that even “a mustard seed” of faith will get the job done. He lets us know that if we choose to follow Him, we will find what we are looking for. Yes, God is mightily mysterious and impossible to comprehend. But, He is also a God of reason, and has given us great reason to believe in Him. Our evidence includes answered prayers, transformed lives, miracles, and Scripture, and not to mention, all of creation! God has given us great ways to continuously learn about Him, ask questions about what we believe, and feel at peace taking a leap of faith in Him. It is always important to trust in God when we are lost and confused, but also, out of love for Him, to make an effort to learn more. Sometimes a great answer or new understanding gives fresh life to our faith. 5. Expecting God to do it Your Way This temptation is a sneaky one. Without much effort, we can find ourselves convinced that God is silent in our lives simply because our past prayers haven’t been answered. However, upon second glance, it may just be that God didn’t answer our prayers in the way we expected. The solution is simple: thank God for the gifts you have been given, lessons learned, and the good things in your life. Let go of previous expectations and ask God how to respond to everything that comes your way. When we trust that He hears our prayers, we see Him more clearly at work.