What To Do When You Feel Like You’re Not Doing Enough

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Three years ago, in the month of May to be exact, I dedicated my summer to something I called, “My Summer of Silence and Surrender.” I did this because I have the tendency to be pre-occupied with making things happen. For those of you who don’t know me, I come from a world of believing that I must make something happen everyday in order to get one step closer to achieving my goals and dreams. That’s what we’re taught, right? The world tells us that life is all about succeeding and making something out of ourselves. While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be successful, success has a way of becoming an idol in our lives, at least it has in mine.

When I recommitted my life to Christ, I was in the 6th year of pursuing my acting career. I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post how my career became my idol, and after a certain amount of time, I realized the tugging on my heart to pursue God was much greater. At the same time, old habits die hard, and I still get caught up spending a good amount of time feeling like I’m not doing enough. Normally, when people feel like this, they do more, but what do I do? I stop and spend even more time listening for the direction of God.

During this summer of silence and surrender three years ago, I never felt more in-tune with the Lord than I did then and every area of my life seemed to flourish. I was physically healthier, more mentally focused, and the ability to write what was on my heart and mind just flowed effortlessly. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus addresses his disciples and the multitude surrounding him about their worries, or chasing after the things of the world (this is a long passage to be quoting, but trust me, the entire passage is relevant):

25“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?

28“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

The world has a way of making us believe if we’re not living a life of hustle and grind, we’re not living. When in reality, life is supposed to be the exact opposite. God never put us here on this earth so that we could be so distracted by the busy-ness of chasing goals. As a matter of fact, when we’re in alignment with what He wants us to be doing, we honestly don’t have to work that hard! Imagine that!

In short, Jesus wasn’t lying when he said “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” What he means is, “Focus on being in relationship with me, getting to know me, and everything else in your life will flow out of this relationship, naturally and peacefully.” I often talk to some of my friends about the difference between BEING and DOING When we’re focused on BEING who God created us to be, the DOING flows naturally from that BEING. But if we’re so focused on DOING what we want, then the ability to BE is manufactured and not necessarily true to who we are. Our BEING becomes shaped from what we DO versus who we’re truly meant to BE. That’s how we end up with a world full of people who define themselves by their careers. I know because I was one of those people. I defined myself by my artistic career. “I am an ACTRESS!” I capitalized “actress” to show the ridiculousness with which I stated it.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. You’re either thinking, 1. “Stephanie, your whole speech on ‘Being vs. Doing’ is confusing as heck!” Or, you’re thinking 2. “Stephanie, this sounds great and all, but how do I get to that place of ‘being’?” Well, I could say it’s simple, but if you’re a busy body like me, then it can be hard at first. With that being said, here’s my answer: Make an honest effort daily to surrender your will to the Lord. How do you do that? Well, this can look different for everyone as far as how to go about it, so the best I can do is share my way with you and pray that you can adjust it however you need to.

When I wake up, no matter how busy my day is scheduled to be or what I have to do, I make some coffee, then I pull out my bible and my journal and I spend time reading, journaling, and praying. You’d be surprised at the things God places on your heart and mind during this time. This is an everyday thing, with the exception of a day or two that I sleep too late (and trust me, I have those days). During my Summer of Silence and Surrender however, I take it a step further. In addition to the time I spend with God, aside from the work I already have scheduled to do, or things I’m already committed to, I’m not spending my free time trying to come up with new projects, new book ideas, business ideas, etc. I’m very entrepreneurial minded, so for me not to be thinking of new ways to expand my Ghostwriting business, or coming up with ways to create multiple streams of revenue is highly unusual. But here’s the thing: I know from experience that when we’re so pre-occupied with these things, there’s no room in my mind for God to download His ideas and His plans.

Now I know another thing you may be thinking, “Stephanie, how do you know all of those ideas you have aren’t from God?” Well, I didn’t say they weren’t. Sometimes they are, but sometimes these ideas I have may be for another time and not for me to act on immediately. But I wouldn’t know this if I didn’t take the time to slow down and hear from God. Another great way to determine whether or not the ideas I’m having would be more of a distraction than a help at that point in my life is to gauge how much I’m having to force them to come to fruition. If I’m having to inconvenience my life in a way that leaves zero room for anything else, chances are either the timing or the idea itself is off. This doesn’t mean that everything God gives you an idea for should be super easy, but it also shouldn’t be next to impossible to bring to fruition.

I know I went off on a little bit of a tangent, but my point is: don’t be afraid to set aside the way you think things should be going in order to hear and see if God has a different or better way for you to go about accomplishing things in your life. So again, if you’re anything like me and you feel you constantly have to be doing something, try stopping. You don’t have to dedicate an entire summer to it like I am. Try just a week, or even 3-4 days, and work your way up to more time. Because, here’s the beautiful thing about God: the more of your time and mind you surrender to Him, the more He’ll reveal His plans for your life to you, and things start to unfold naturally. You won’t have to force ideas and ways of getting things done to come about. If what you’re desiring to do falls in line with God’s will, the work will be much easier than it ever was before.

I hope what I’ve said here makes sense. If not, like I said in my last post, feel free to email me or leave me a comment. I wish you much peace for the rest of your week, and I pray that peace comes from doing absolutely nothing, well, nothing extra.

God’s Way or My Way?

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The writing below is something that I wrote while spending time with God. I realized a long time ago that the most sincere part of my heart comes out during this time, when I’m spending time reading the Word and journaling, so I wanted to share it here. There are so many times over the past few years when I’ve wanted to post things that I wrote, but I didn’t because I didn’t think they were “polished” enough. However, it took me a while to realize that it’s not about my words being super polished. It’s not about me at all. It’s about sharing my heart for Jesus with others, in hopes that it will help them. So, here you go! This was written after I read Romans 3:9-18, but it’s verses 10,11, and 12 that really spoke to me.

Romans 3:10-12- There is none righteous no, not one. There is none who understands. There is none who seeks after God...

This passage makes me think about my own salvation and my own journey of faith. As a kid, I was baptized because my understanding was that without being baptized, I wouldn’t go to heaven, but I had no understanding of what it meant to be saved. Fast forward – It wasn’t until age 33 that I began to notice that something was truly missing, but I didn’t come to that conclusion on my own. We’re all made in the image of God, regardless of what we choose to believe, and being made in that image comes with, what the philosopher Kant called a “built-in moral law.” Without that built in law, we would all be completely depraved. Thank God we have the choice while we’re still alive, to choose morality over depravity.

When I felt that something was missing, I could have chosen to go the other way. I could have chosen to fill that void I had with things that made me feel good physically, which we all know is short-lived and temporary. I could have gone with something that made me believe in a self-serving spirituality that tells me I can have whatever I want as long as I “manifest” it, only to later turn around and beat myself up because I wasn’t strong enough mentally to manifest what I wanted.

OR, I could choose to understand and believe that we live in a fallen world, separated from our Creator, and the emptiness I felt was due to that separation. And while filling that emptiness with the Holy Spirit doesn’t guarantee me all of the worldly things I may have desired at the time, it gave me so much more. I now understand what Jesus said when He said “the kingdom of God is inside of you,” because NEVER have I possessed so much peace, confidence, clarity, re-assurance, optimism, and so much more. My patience and contentment could use some work, but they are way better than they used to be. My desire to please God over people is a GIFT! Going through this world, living to please God is a BLESSING and way more rewarding than living to please others. And here’s the beautiful thing of it: by living to please God, that pleases me also because my desires have changed (by no doing of my own, mind you. It is the complete work of the Holy Spirit. All I did was surrender).

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I don’t have desires that are worldly. I still want to buy a beautiful home, and have a comfortable bank account! It also doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes have desires that are sinful. It just means that now, I make choices that put God above these things. Therefore, I don’t desire worldly things to the point that they become my idol or to the point that I’m willing to do something that goes against God’s word/will to get them. And let me also be clear about sin: this also doesn’t mean that I live a completely sinless life. I’m human, still live in a fallen world, and from time to time, I do fall. The difference now is, I’m not okay with that and I desire to do things God’s way, not my own. My heart is truly sorrowful when I do the wrong thing. I don’t just say, “God, forgive me” without any kind of true desire to do and be better. And if I do, if I realize I’ve sinned and I’m not the least bit convicted by it, then I pray for God to change my heart because I know what His word says, and I trust His judgment over my own.

I hope you all were able to follow along with my writing and it was clear. If not, and if you have questions about what I wrote, or even if it was clear to you but you still have questions, feel free to leave it in the comments or email me. I love talking about this stuff 🙂

What Does It Look Like to Put God First in Your Life?

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Have you ever found yourself typing and deleting your social media bios repeatedly before you actually decide how to use that tiny space to describe who you are? This was me when Instagram first became a thing. At the time, I was trying to create a presence for myself on social media as an actress. Comedy has always been my thing, and I thought I could use the Internet to showcase my comedic timing. Besides, that’s what all my peers were doing so I thought, “why not?”

As I sat down at the breakfast counter of my overpriced apartment, (everything’s overpriced in L.A.) I stared at the blinking cursor in my Instagram bio section, trying to decide how I should describe myself. “Let me scroll through and read the bios of the people I follow,” I thought to myself.

I can’t tell you how many bios I scrolled through that had “God First” listed in them. If you read my “About” page, this was during the time I’d started questioning what I believed. Of course, looking back now I know God wasn’t first in my life, but I thought he was simply because I believed in Him.

I eventually came to learn that claiming God to be first in my life is way more than believing that He exists, and if I had put that in my bio, it wouldn’t have been true. God wasn’t first in my life. My career was, and don’t even get me started on my prayer life. I prayed here and there, but my prayers were self-centered, not God-centered. I wasn’t praying and asking God what it was He wanted me to do, or how He wanted to order my steps for the day. I was praying and telling God what I wanted to do, and expecting Him to make it happen. “God, I have an audition at 2:30, please let me book it,” or, “God, I am down to $5.00 in my bank account. Please help me get money for gas in order to get to my audition.” You get what i’m saying: self-centered.

What’s even more sad is the fact that I thought this was how it was supposed to go in terms of prayer, and having God in my life. After all, Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart,” right? Well, that’s not necessarily how it works. I was skipping over the “Delight yourself in the Lord” part. Heck, I didn’t even know what delighting myself in the Lord meant at the time. But slowly, as I started to learn what it meant, ( I learned by reading His word, spending time in prayer, journaling, and LISTENING for the Holy Spirit) those self-centered prayers started to change. My desires started to change. I desired to know more about God and who He is. I desired to know more about how He wanted me to live my life, instead of living life the way I wanted and expecting Him to co-sign my plans..

I shared this because I wanted to show how I went about my days and my life when God wasn’t first. It was all about walking out the plans I’d made for me, and doing what I needed to do to reach the goals I’d set for myself. But as I mentioned earlier, if someone asked me at the time was God first in my life, I would have said yes, because I thought having Him first simply meant believing He was real. Well, belief alone is not enough. As it says in James 2:19, “Even the demons believe and tremble!” They probably believe even more than us because most of them (aka, familiar spirits) have been around since the beginning of time. So it’s not just about belief. It’s about how we LIVE out that belief.

What does your daily relationship with God look like? Are you like I was? Waking up every morning with your mind focused on work or your to-do list? If so, and you feel like you lack the desire to put God first, it’s an easy fix. Pray for the desire. Most people don’t think to pray and ask God for the desire to know more about Him, but those are the very things He wants to give us! So try it. Pray for it, and see what happens.