My Life/Teen Life Holy Hobbies: Finding God in Things You Love by Laurie Richard I have a lot of hobbies. Or at least, I’ve had a ton: knitting, reading, rock collecting, painting, bird-watching — these are just a few of the ones I’ve tried out over the years. Some have stuck with me, some didn’t quite click, and some temporarily dropped off, only to be resumed later on with even greater enthusiasm. However, though my hobbies have varied widely, they do all have one thing in common: in them, as in all things, glimpses of God can be found. One hobby that I have loved for some time is thrift shopping. In fact, I’ve been so consistent with this habit, that now the majority of my closet consists of items bought secondhand. Some of you would argue that shopping isn’t a hobby, and I might agree; however, thrifting is different — it’s more like a scavenger hunt. And if you’ve ever tried doing it on the regular, you’d know that it’s an acquired skill. It takes creativity to reimagine used pieces, patience and perseverance to uncover treasures under piles of junk, and a practiced eye to spot hidden gems. Spiritual Scavenger Hunt Metaphorically speaking, we could liken our lives and relationship with God to the scavenger hunt that is thrifting. In between all the ordinary or the not-so-great stuff, are hidden moments and blessings that God has placed there specifically for each one of us. After all — as most of you would probably agree — God rarely speaks in profound, mystical encounters; rather, He reveals himself to us in little ways through the things we love and the hobbies we enjoy. Think about it this way: if a new friend wanted to get to know you better or become closer to you, they’d probably spend time hanging out and doing fun, everyday activities with you. Likewise, since God desires a deep personal relationship with each of us, of course He would “meet us halfway,” seeking to connect with our hearts through what we already love. He knows who we are and how to reach us — He did make us after all! Remember, God doesn’t just speak to me through my hobbies; He’s ready and waiting to meet you where you are, too. One important rule of thrift shopping that also applies to our relationship with God is this: if you don’t look, you won’t find. For this reason, I have come to love a form of prayer called the Ignatian Examen, a spiritual exercise that applies this practice of being aware of God’s presence in our lives. It incorporates a period of self-reflection before bed when you mentally sift through your day, asking yourself, “where have I succeeded?” “where have I failed?” but most importantly, “where have I seen God?” I’ve learned to use this last question in my own prayer life as a “spiritual scavenger hunt” of sorts, a lot like my hobby of thrifting. When I actually take the time to think about it, I’m often overwhelmed by the realization that God is so much nearer to me than I ever could have imagined. Most frequently, the answer to this question lies in the most ordinary occurrences, such as the friendly smile of a stranger, a cool breeze in the sweltering summer heat, and yes, in the genuine enjoyment I derive from a silly little hobby. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about God through my hobbies (and I’m still learning more!), but here are just a few of the truths they continuously remind me of: 1. God made us uniquely, for a unique, personal relationship with Him. I’ve chosen a few generic hobbies over the years, but a lot of the ones that might be considered somewhat unconventional have seemingly chosen me. For example, I have always been obsessed with rocks. My interest in them feels so innate, I’m absolutely certain that God programmed it into my being somehow when He decided to create me. Each person has been given a unique combination of personality, talents and interests, so that God can connect with each of us in a special way. How lucky we are that He desires that relationship with us! 2. God wants us to be happy. Sometimes it feels almost ridiculous the amount of pure, simple pleasure I derive from a hobby as trivial as cloud-watching, for example. In a world crowded with busyness, stress, and drama, I wish I could bottle that feeling and keep it forever. My recreational pastimes remind me that God didn’t intend for us to feel so weighed-down all the time — He created us for joy, freedom, and authenticity. Our hobbies give us the chance to experience a small taste of this while on Earth. 3. We’re made for heaven. The world is a crazy, wonderful place to live, but as I just mentioned, it can be easy to get bogged down with daily stresses and lose sight of why we’re all here in the first place: to get to Heaven. When I carve out time to invest in myself and my hobbies, it gives me a renewed clarity and drive to keep fighting the good fight. I’m grateful to have hobbies that serve as outlets to “tap out” and tap into my creativity. So please, if you haven’t already, find a hobby that you genuinely enjoy — there are so many super fun options! And in case this isn’t already obvious, scrolling through Instagram isn’t one. Neither is sleeping past noon or binge watching The Office for the millionth time (calling myself out here too, you guys). If you do already have one, consider branching out with an activity that you’ve never tried before — you might just be amazing at it (or hilariously terrible)! But beyond just having a hobby for its own sake, my hope for you is this: that through your hobby you discover, little by little, the Person of God and just how much He desperately wants a relationship with you.