We need to nourish our bodies every day. You don’t often hear “I’ll pass on that…I ate yesterday.” And yet — sometimes we find days slipping away from us where we have not fed ourselves spiritually. Life is busy — and we are super busy talking about how busy we are. Apparently, there is not a single human being who is not busy. Anywhere.
And in the midst of the constant discussion around living intentionally and being present, choosing to be disciple of Christ requires and deserves the most consistent intentions and active follow-up of any of our habits or practices.
Elder L. Whitney Clayton stated, “The decision to believe is the most important choice we ever make…Belief and testimony and faith are not passive principles. They do not just happen to us. Belief is something we choose—we hope for it, we work for it, and we sacrifice for it. We will not accidentally come to believe in the Savior and His gospel any more than we will accidentally pray or pay tithing. We actively choose to believe, just like we choose to keep other commandments.”
If we are serious about being able to nurture others — and to sincerely bear each other’s burdens — then we need to be able to stand on our own feet and draw from our own deep well. As a foundation president once stated:” There are only four kinds of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” Thus, every one of us needs to learn how to care for ourselves so that we can care for others. We cannot be a well for others, especially those in our family or stewardship, if we are not digging deep for that living water ourselves.
As Elder Holland explained, “For those of you who earnestly seek to bear another’s burdens, it is important that you refortify yourself and build yourself back up when others expect so much of you and indeed take so much out of you. No one is so strong that he or she does not ever feel fatigued or frustrated or recognize the need to care for themselves. Jesus certainly experienced that fatigue, felt the drain on His strength … I have always been amazed that He could sleep through a storm on the Sea of Galilee so serious and severe that His experienced fishermen disciples thought the ship was going down. How tired is that? How many sermons can you give and blessings can you administer without being absolutely exhausted? The caregivers have to have care too. You have to have something in the tank before you can give it to others.”
What do you need to refill your tank each day? You already know — but it bears repeating (and embellishing, and hand lettering and whatever other creative process you need so that it becomes real for you). Prayer. Scriptures. Revelation. Connection. Worship. It’s been said that “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. (Annie Dillard) If you want to connect with heavenly power and to be a source of light for others — then your daily actions need to reflect those priorities.
The how? Reading, listening, talking, journaling, thinking, whispering, singing, remembering, meditating, visualizing. The most important method of connecting to your Father in Heaven is the one that works for you — and which you will do consistently. Does that mean you have to be a morning person? Probably. It’s been said that if something is important to you — you will do it — if not — then you find excuses. So, plan for your success.
As Elder Scott counseled, “Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it! (November 2014)
You need to create a time to connect with God and with your Savior. That window of time is unlikely to open up without intention and planning on your part. I have yet to see my kids bring me my scriptures and journal and ask if I needed some spiritual refueling during some conflict. But, I have seen a difference in my parenting when I fill my well and “walk” the walk of daily discipleship. It means you may need to retrain your brain to reach “in” for strength, patience, wisdom, purpose (and find something there that you have nurtured) — instead of reaching “out” on your phone. What is more likely to fill your tank?
“The only currency that we really have to spend during our lives is time. Everything else is just a subcategory.” (Stephen R. Bown) So, how will you spend it? Will you forgo things that are good in order to choose what is best? Will we invest time into an activity that pays the highest dividend — magnifying and multiplying our time and giving us the inspiration to manage the rest of it in the best way possible? We are promised that “if we study the scriptures, we are able to use the remainder of our time more wisely. (Tad Callister)
Some ideas for deepening morning devotionals (after scripture reading and prayer):
- Record the experiences you’ve had when you knew the Lord loved you personally and was aware of YOU and your circumstances.
- Do a mini-burst of family history work
- Write out a prayer
- Engage in a gratitude practice
- Listen to a talk from church leaders (general conference, BYU devotionals)
- Engage creatively with some inspirational text (handlettering, calligraphy, doodling, artwork, music, etc.)
- Appreciate some of God’s creations outside — hike, walk, run, bike, outdoor yoga
Find a devotional practice that works for you and stick with it. The more you do it — the easier the habit will develop and it will free your mind to apply that knowledge, peace, and resilience to the challenges of your days — and thus your life. As Gordon B. Hinckley often recommended, “The only way to get anything done is to get on your knees and ask for the Lord’s help, and then get on your feet and go to work.”
Brittany Ratelle is a mother of four littles who works from home as a “naptime attorney.” She helps entrepreneurs, influencers and creatives with their legal needs when she is not persuading tiny humans to put their shoes on. She is also a guardian ad litem for the Utah courts and represents children in divorce and abuse cases. She loves to quote movies with her hunky husband and is an unapologetic car singer. Britt also loves to read past her bedtime, sew, knit and snowboard. She lives in Provo with her family and claims Coeur d’Alene, Idaho as her hometown.
Subscribe to receive your free 8x10 downloadable print of "The Living Christ"