How to Have a Grace-Based Approach Toward Time in the Word
Last week I applied this idea of “grace-based rhythms” to the topic of cleaning and walked through a three-step process of exchanging a rigid, stressful cleaning routine for a more flexible, grace-filled cleaning rhythm. It’s been so incredible how incorporating grace-based rhythms into different areas of my life have helped me find freedom from perfectionist patterns!
Today I want to walk you through another example of how to incorporate grace-based rhythms into your life, but this time with a focus on a different topic that has forever changed my relationship with the Lord: how I spend my time in the Word.
I used to have so many perfectionist tendencies when it came to how I approached my time in the Word, or just my time with God in general. I had this false belief that I somehow had to earn God’s love or presence by doing all the right things, and for me that meant reading my Bible everyday, making sure I read a certain amount of Scripture and always journal. Basically having this picture perfect “quiet time,” which, for obvious reasons, doesn’t happen quite often when you have little ones.
It was devastating to me when I became a mom and couldn’t spend time in the Word the way that I wanted to anymore. Everything just felt too difficult at the time, and because of the lies I had been believing for so long, I even found myself struggling to connect with God altogether. I thought surely he’s disappointed in me or doesn’t want to speak to me. I felt like I was failing at being that perfect Christian mom.
But finding a grace-based rhythm for spending time in the Word was life-changing for me because for the very first time, my time in the Word wasn’t tied to my performance or this need to be perfect. I was able to be flexible with it, enjoy it without fear or pressure, and most importantly, encounter God in ways I hadn’t encountered before. And these are the three steps of finding grace-based rhythms that got me to this point...
Step One: Flip the script
You want to break free from perfectionism, anxiety, or stress? It starts with what you tell yourself and what you believe.
I MUST stick to this reading plan.
I MUST read this certain amount of Scripture everyday
I can ONLY read God’s Word with my physical Bible.
I can ONLY read God’s Word first thing in the morning.
I have to get something applicable out of what I’m reading right away or it doesn’t count.
I can’t open my Bible until God shows me what I’m supposed to be reading.
If I don’t have the time to really study or journal or process through everything I’m reading, it’s better to not read at all.
Meditating on Scripture has a lot more to do with our mind than with a specific block of time.
Even though this season you and I may be in isn’t really affording us the luxury of a sit-down “quiet time,” we are still able to find quiet for our souls.
The Lord is always wanting to speak to us and breathe life back into us by the power of his Word.
There’s no such thing as “it’s been too long.”
Once the lies in your head are replaced with the truth, you then have the power to start living out the truth day by day. You’re free to choose grace, not perfection.
Step Two: Choose Grace
Lay out your options. Ask for help from your spouse or a close friend if you still might not be seeing things clearly.
Option 1: Keep trying to have that picture perfect quiet time and then get disappointed, feel guilty, or lash out in anger at my kids when things don’t go my way (been there, did that).
Option 2: Spend time in the Word at a different time of the day than what I’m used to, like before bed or while eating lunch.
Option 3: Spend time in the Word using a different medium than I’m used to, like using a Bible app on my phone or listening to the Bible on audio.
Option 4: Spend time in the Word whenever I am able to throughout the week, but keep it simple. Stick to shorter passages. Don’t pressure yourself to dive into commentaries or studies. Memorize verses of whatever passages you’re reading so you can reflect on it throughout the week when you’re unable to open your Bible.
Option 1 was my before. That was my perfectionist mindset controlling me back before I even allowed myself to believe in the possibility that I could break from my routine and still encounter God.
Option 2, 3, and 4 were my AFTER. They’re what set me on a path to discovering NEW ways to encounter God that don’t require my perfect performance. They’re what enabled me to walk in freedom, which leads to the last step…
Step Three: Practice freedom
Freedom from stress and especially freedom from something as deep-rooted as perfectionism doesn’t happen overnight. It’s something you practice and intentionally walk toward every day.
During this season of breaking from routine and finding a more grace-based rhythm for my time in the Word, I kept stumbling on different things. There were some days I fooled myself into thinking that my daughter was going to be quiet and busy enough to give me the quiet time I wanted (big surprise…. I was often wrong). There were some days I read passages in a sleep-deprived state and then immediately forgot what I had read. There were some days I was so distracted or discouraged that I didn’t read at all.
But every time I was tempted to beat myself up or get angry at my current season of life or even begin to believe that spending time in the Word doesn’t matter, I was being given the opportunity to choose GRACE over perfection. And over time it just got easier and easier, even when my second daughter was born and it felt like in many ways I was essentially “starting over.” Now it is very rare that spending time in the Word (or NOT spending time in the Word) stirs up those negative feelings in me — because I was intentional in practicing my freedom with this grace-based rhythm until my brain was able to replace those lies with the TRUTH and walking in grace became second nature.
I want walking in grace to become second nature to you, too, which is why I want to keep preaching this idea of grace-based rhythms. I’ve seen too many women feel enslaved and overwhelmed by their perfectionism in so many different areas of their lives, and I believe it’s time for us to break our generational curses and pave a new way for our families!