Loving Abba through the grind of long working hours
5am. Up, well trying to. Snooze, 30 minutes more, I promise, just a little bit more.
Up again, for real, at 5:30am. I was ill prepared for my presentation later that morning and I knew it. Perhaps that was what finally coaxed me out of bed at 5:30am and into my little home office by 5:45am.
The 3 hrs of sleep was just way too short, and my neck was signaling so with the unsettling way it stiffened up when I turned my head in a certain direction. But I would much rather the stiff neck than a bungled presentation so I power on my laptop and get to previewing my slides.
7:30am — DANGITT! Just 30 mins to my presentation time! I was feeling way more confident about the presentation, I had rehearsed it enough times to feel ready. Confident? Yes! But there’s this other feeling: GUILT. I had not spent any time with God. 0 mins!
I tell myself I would get around to it after my presentation.
Now I wish I could report to you that after a successful presentation, I withdrew to a quieter part of the house to meet with my Abba, just him & I. I sincerely wish I could.
Is this pattern familiar to you? The brutal reality of trying to ‘slot’ God into a packed schedule.
I realized that I have learned alot from failing alot. So, I decided to share the things that have been my saving grace in my journey to meet with God everyday (like he did with Moses, whom he called ‘His friend’ :) )
The 5 things that have helped me stay connected to God despite a very busy work-life:
- Choosing a non-intrusive environment
- So, I naturally HAAAATE being interrupted, especially when I am in the ZONE! Ya feel me? Nothing worse than a roommate barging in to ask you whether you have a spare bar of soap, cutting in to your ultra-connected moment with God. So, when its time to have MY time with Abba, I literally disappear — Like OFF DA GRID. For now, what I have found works the most is my car. I get to work 1hr early and just sit in my car for that hour. I used to feel very guilty about waking up and the Bible not being the very first book I picked up — I just had to admit to myself that I am not the type that can get up and jump right to it. And the times I fooled myself into thinking that I could have it on my bed — sleep came and slapped me in 3D! There have been too many incidents having tried that only to wake up with a map of drool all over the Bible — No ma’am — we ain’t built like that. Find your place and run to it everyday!
2. Writing my prayers down in a Prayer Journal
- My mind is often like a bazaar — busy, noisy, and very fast-paced. One thought slips in, I follow it, only for it to be rudely interrupted by another. I have found that trying to pray silently in my head has many times found me drifting into thought about whether I had paid my light bill the day before. So to deal with my racy mind, I find I maintain much better focus when I can see my thoughts form on the page. I should confess: I’m a digital notetaker — so most of my prayers are stored as Google documents, so there is no use of actual paper. I title each document using the date of that current day, so one may read like “Time with God — Jan, 4, 2022”
3. Emotional transparency in my daily conversations with God
- Working in the corporate world exposes you to a lot of emotionally charged situations — dealing with people always does. Showing great emotional restraint in the workplace is not just desirable, it’s necessary to survive. So I find in order to cope, I’ve subconsciously learned how to charge through very high tense situations, repressing back A LOT of emotions. Added onto that is the simple fact that I am Nigerian. And if you check the stats — it’s a very harsh socioeconomic environment that breeds even harsher people.
- But you know what’s crazy? Jesus was more ‘emotionally expressive’ under pressure. (Read: Hebrews 5:7, for real, actually stop and go read it!) When Jesus prayed, there were tears, ALOT of it. He let God see him break down emotionally. But why even bother with emotions? They change nothing! You’re so right. Jesus still died a horrifying death despite his agonizing and tearful prayer times. Emotions may not have the power to change the outcome of a negative situation — but guess what they have power to change? Me. If the Bible is trying to change me and my emotions are equally trying to change me, I must subdue one in order to obey the other.
- So practically what does this look like for me? Again, using my awesome Google Documents (who would have thought that Google would be so instrumental to my spiritual health?) I walk through work incidents, personal temptations with sin, family issues, health issues, relationship issues — not just detailing the facts but identifying the different emotions that were triggered by those different situations: anger, bitterness, envy, sadness, hopelessness, anxiety etc. When I get a clear sense of my emotional position, I go in search of scriptures that help me see/think the opposite of those negative emotions.
4. Reading the Bible to Change and not just to acquire knowledge
- Reading the Bible feels good. Hang on, I’ll amend that statement: Reading the Bible makes me feel good about myself. I feel holy, set-apart, disciplined, and in right standing with God. For me, those are strong enough motivations to keep reading the Bible. But I’ve learned that reading is utterly useless if I am not changing. So, as I read, it’s important for me to figure out the ‘So what?’ or the ‘What will I do differently now that I know this?’ — It’s cool to know that 1 Corinthians 13:4 describes Love as ‘Patient’ but much more important for me to come away convicted with the need to be more patient with Co-worker X who I have to explain things to 5 different times to get us on the same page.
5. Working out with God
- I picked up the habit of working out from my Mama (if you reading this Mama, I wubs youuu!) When I was a kid, I would hear the sounds of her workout videos coming from the living room early every morning. It took a very long while, but she eventually infected me. Ever since my college days exercise has pretty much become a part of my regular routine. It’s crazy, the more intense it gets at work, the more my body craves exercise (am I normal?) I guess the feeling of my internal body heat rising gives me this crazy sense of release that helps clear my mind. I also like to feel like I am taking God along on my jogs, like he is the supportive coach jeering me on — “Go Nche! Keep going! Don’t stop!” — Something about that image makes God feel a thousand times more real to me, very much present in my ‘everyday’. Very often, I use those times to pray, cry, pray and cry some more. And without fail, I always come back with a lighter heart, and a more resolute mind. There’s something you probably look forward to doing alone everyday — whatever it is, bring God into it.
Adios mis amigos,
Until next time!
(P.s: feel free to reach out to me if you would love ideas on personal Bible studies etc )