Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is important to many. Our Faith column is a place to discuss how faith (of any kind) positively affects mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.
Summer arrives with its own set of challenges and triggers, and learning to cope with these has been a process. For many of us, summer can bring with it challenges to our Faith as we are often away from our faith communities. This can leave us feeling isolated and alone.
My faith has been one constant source of comfort during these more challenging times.
Over the past four years, I have learned what helps me to stay rooted in my faith during the summer months. While these things have helped me cope with this transition as a college student, I have no doubt they will continue to serve me well.
Here are five of the most important things to help you prioritize your faith:
1. Be intentional.
Make and follow a schedule. Set aside an hour, or however long works for you, at some point during the day for your faith. This can include following a Bible reading plan or working through a devotional book. Build time for your faith into your daily schedule and protect it. Don’t let other things intrude into this time.
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It’s easy to go into the summer and think we’ll make time for our faith. But here’s the thing: making time for everything isn’t possible. We need to be intentional about how we spend our time, especially when it comes to our faith and spiritual growth.
2. We also need to be intentional by creating action steps.
This can be hard to do in terms of faith because spiritual growth doesn’t have a timeline and often isn’t tangible. However, look for something tangible you can use to guide you over the summer. Do you want to go through the book of Psalms? Read a particular devotional? Break this down into smaller, daily steps. Go into your quiet time each day knowing what is going to guide your time.
3. Find accountability.
Once you’ve figured out a way to be intentional with your time, find someone to hold you accountable to your plan. Sometimes we are lucky enough to have someone we can see in person when we do this, but it can even just be someone who checks in with you through text or email.
Share your intentions with someone who is going to support you, push you forward, and cheer you on as you seek to spend your time intentionally.
Another way to incorporate accountability into your summer is to get involved in a local Bible study or do a Bible study with a friend. This is an excellent way to incorporate fellowship when you might be far from college friends or are more isolated from others–even if the fellowship takes the form of Skype or a phone call.
Reading through the Bible or working through a devotional together is a great way to learn and grow spiritually and it keeps you accountable to actually doing it.
4. Get plugged into a church.
Whether you are moving to a new city or simply returning home for the summer, this is vital. Depending on where you’re headed and if you’re familiar with churches in the area, you might have to do a little research. The Internet is a great resource for this!
Most churches these days have some sort of an online presence. Start here. Often, you’ll be able to read about the church’s theology, see the biographies of staff members, and learn about the opportunities for fellowship. Visiting a new church on your own can be anxiety-inducing and overwhelming. You might have friends or co-workers in the area who would go with you.
But what if you don’t? Well, here’s another reason the Internet comes in handy! Many churches post recordings of their sermons online. This can be a great way to be fed spiritually if visiting a church by yourself is too difficult, you can’t get out of bed come Sunday, or you just want to check out a church further before attending.
If you do find a church you like or if you already have one, get involved. Spend time in community with others by attending church picnics, joining the choir, or even playing church softball. We are not meant to live our lives alone and this community is so crucial. You might be surprised at the ways these relationships impact your faith.
5. Finally, remember to serve and love people well.
It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives and forget about loving and serving others. Try to be intentional about finding ways to serve and love the people in your life.
Send encouraging letters to friends or even a text message letting them know you’re thinking about them. Ask how you can be praying for others in your life and then actively pray for them. Volunteer in your community or your church. Do something to show the important people in your life how you are present with them and how you are serving them. If you don’t know what you can do for them, just ask!
Most importantly, to stay rooted in your faith over the summer, you need to make faith a priority for your summer.
Faith is not all about you. We were created to live in community with those around us, and part of living in community with others involves serving others.
You might be surprised at not only how God works in your heart through service, but how He works through you.
These are just a few of the ways I have prioritized my faith during the summer months. This has strengthened my faith and has better equipped me to handle the ups and downs of life and recovery.
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