For the longest time, I thought because I went to Mass every weekend and youth group every Wednesday, that meant I had a strong relationship with God. In my mind, God and I were best friends because he knew who I was and I knew who he was.
But the reality was, I only thought about God when I needed him. It wasn’t until I started to go to retreats my freshman year of high school that I realized my relationship with him had room for improvement. After hearing the testimonies of so many amazing speakers, I suddenly had this desire to do more.
For a while, I did. I was constantly journaling, praying and going to church. I was on my “Jesus high.” I found myself being passionate for a period of time and then all of a sudden ... radio silence. My problem was I wanted to do too many things. Eventually, when there was too much for me to do and not enough time to do it, I gave up.
It wasn’t until quarantine started in March 2020, when I made a promise I would read the Bible every single day, that I started to really strengthen my relationship with God. Not too long before, I realized I had never read the full Bible myself. I also promised God I would pray to him several times throughout the day.
At first, it was kind of difficult because I was still trying to figure everything out. It took time for me to be able to comprehend the Bible, but with time, it got easier. Any verse that stood out to me, I would highlight on my Bible app. That way, I could always go back and reread verses I thought had a deeper meaning.
When it came to praying throughout the day, I realized it was easier than I thought. In my mind, praying was this hour-long process that meant I had to be in silence. While that is one form of praying, the form I started to use more often was as simple as thanking God for the new day. This helped keep God in my mind throughout the day. It opened my eyes and allowed me to see things in a different light — in his light.
I had always wanted to start journaling my thoughts and prayers. However, when I realized I couldn’t do it every day, I came up with a different solution. My solution was to try to journal at least once a month. This way, I could give a recap of what I learned or what I thought was important during that time. I can’t say I’ve been doing it the same day each month, but whenever I have time, I just write down my thoughts.
At the beginning of every entry, I write down a prayer. I do this because I want to be able to look back and realize the ways God has answered my prayers, whether in the way I thought or not. It’s also a constant reminder to give thanks to God for always being there.
Another thing I have found to be extremely helpful during my journey is having friends I can talk about my struggles with. Sometimes, I just need a friend who can relate to what I’m going through. Luckily, I have made many friends through my youth group and at retreats. It really is refreshing being able to have a conversation with someone who makes you not feel alone. So many times we think we are the only ones going through a hard time, when in reality, there are many people we know who are currently going through the same thing or have overcome it. Having the perspective of someone else in that position can be enlightening.
All these methods have helped me feel God’s presence in my daily life. I know they will not work for everyone, but I pray everyone who reads this is able to find a routine that helps them grow closer to God.
Laritza Chena is a junior at Searcy High School. She attends St. James Church in Searcy.
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