Building a Relationship With God
I am so excited about this post because I think you will be very shocked to hear about my personal journey with building a relationship with God. Growing up, my mom didn’t talk much about God. She was more of a “treat people how you want to be treated” type of person but we didn’t pray, attend church or have any type of religious preference. So God to me was a little foreign. God to me seemed like a fairytale story that people made up to explain things that they couldn’t understand. I didn’t see the point in praying to something I could see, touch or hear and I had never experienced anything “God like” before.
When I was 20 years old, I fell into a deep depression. One of my best friends and ex-boyfriend at the time was murdered. He was shot 19 times in a barbershop at the age of 23.
At the time, I was living a life that didn’t make me very happy. I was working 3-4 jobs on top of being in college full time. The day before Walt died, we sat at an Applebees and I opened up to him about how unhappy I was. He was shocked because from outside looking in, I had it made. I was dancing for the NBA, pursuing my college degree, making money, had my own apartment, car and everything I could ask for. But what I was missing was happiness. I couldn’t find happiness in anything that I was doing. Nothing felt right.
I had talked to him about wanting to quit the NBA dance team and dropping out of college. To my surprise, he thought it was a good idea. It felt good to know that someone else understood and would support my decision. He told me that I could do anything I put my mind to. He said if college isn’t what you want, find something that is. Life is too short and I have to much to offer. Funny thing is, Walt isn’t normally an inspirational guy. His words that day sounded good but didn’t actually hit me until the next day when I got the phone call to come to the barbershop.
Now I don’t know if you’ve ever dealt with death before but this type of death seemed so unreal. To actually see his body lying there, covered with nothing but shoes showing and blood all around him, I was devastated.
I spoke with my professors and because they saw the news reports, I was able to take 30 days off from school and complete my work from home. During those 30 days, I barely left my room. I turned in my resignation to the NBA, got my shifts at work covered and I can honestly say, went through a rough stage of what felt like depression. It wasn’t just Walt’s death that had me feeling depressed. It was life as a whole. I had no desire to do any of the things I was doing. I needed to change the way I was living and create a life that makes me happy.
This is the first time I have ever gotten on my knees and prayed to God. I was a hot mess. Crying, sobbing, mumbling words, just trying to communicate with a higher power that I didn’t even know if I believed in. And y'all, something crazy happened. As I was praying I felt my insides get warm and tingly. It felt as if I were floating and losing control of my body. I was so freaked out and that all I could do was cry.
When I finally calmed down, I slept for hours throughout the day. I remember having a dream and waking up with the words that Walt said to me in my head. “if college isn’t what you want, find something that is. Life is too short and I have to much to offer”`. I cannot explain the overwhelming feeling that came over me but it was in that moment that I knew I wanted to start a business. I started to write down different words on a piece of paper that could be potential names so I could brainstorm what it would be. I fell asleep and the next morning I woke up and 1 of the words on the paper stood out to me. “Shameless”.
I brainstormed business ideas for weeks and when it was time to back to school, I walked into my guidance councilors office and said, “I quit” I don’t want an early childhood education degree, I don’t want to go to work every day working for someone else. I want freedom, and I’m going to get it.” Obviously, she probably thought I was crazy. And so did my mom when I called to tell her the news. The reason dropping out of college was such a big deal is because I had worked so hard in High School to get the scholarships and be the first person in my family to attend college. I had great grades and I was only 1 semester away from walking the stage. I just really didn’t care.
I was in college because that’s what I was taught was the right thing to do. I know my mom did her best raising me and wanted me to have opportunities that she didn’t and college seemed like the right choice but I had an undeniable feeling that I wasn’t going to ignore.
The first thing I started to do with my business was a signature heels class I called “Shameless Ladies”. It allowed me to do something that made me happy which was bringing together diverse women and helping them build their confidence through conversation, cocktails and dance. The classes were so fun that news quickly traveled and I was able to teach 3x a week at 3 different locations. Even though I wasn’t making as much money as I did when I worked all those jobs, I actually felt peace and happiness. I felt like what I was doing mattered and made a difference. The women would express how much my class means to them and I saw that I was truly helping women feel better about themselves and start to love the person they see in the mirror. It was much more rewarding than any amount of money.
To make a long story short, this was the beginning of the rest of my life. I had no clue where it would take me but all that mattered was that I was happy! I realized that everything stemmed from the time that I prayed. Again, the feeling was indescribable and like nothing I ever experienced. Because of that experience, I started to pray more often. I bought a bible and started to attend church on a regular basis. Between then and now, I have grown soooooo much. God is a huge part of my life and thank him every day for never giving up on me, loving me unconditionally and giving me the strength, wisdom, and patience to get to the point where I am today.
Before we can talk about building your relationship with God, you have to understand your “why”. Before you can throw yourself into any relationship, you have to know why you want to be in it in the first place. So my question to you is, WHY do you want to build a relationship with God? My reason was that I was hopeless. I had no hope and felt like giving up so I turned to God. As I grew in my relationship I learned how amazing God is and how much better my life is when he is involved. Following his laws and principals makes me a better person for myself and the people around me. So what is your reason?
Once you have your reason, you have to look at where you’re starting. For example, I realized that believing in God was hard for me because there was no real proof that he exists. I have a hard time believing things I cannot prove. I also realized that the lack of relationship I had with my personal father, affected my initial relationship with my heavenly father. I had to work on fixing my daddy issues so that I could learn to trust a man again. God is the first man but then the man who I would end up being with. So where are you starting? What are your past situations that may be hindering you from growing closer to God?
Building a relationship with God is very similar to building a relationship with anyone else. In order to get to know the person and trust them, you have to spend quality time with them, get to know them and be intentional.
Here are my 7 tips for building a relationship with God.
Church is a great way to connect with God, fellowship, and worship 1x a week but it is not the only way to building your relationship with God. Church’s nowadays are so far fetched from what God says the church should be, that I personally don’t believe it’s the best way. When you think of a relationship with God, it is intimate. It’s you and him. You can pray to him from anywhere. Church is not a magical place where God resides, he is in your heart. Church is amazing for fellowship and worship if you can find a church home you’re comfortable with but don’t think that just because you attend church your building an intimate relationship with God.
2. Bible Study
Bible study is one of my favorite ways to grow closer to God. It allows you to fellowship with other believers, be interactive, ask questions and most importantly, be intentional.
In the church, you are preached to but in bible study, you get to engage with your peers. I like how intimate bible study is. My friends and I do bible study every other week and it’s something that I always look forward to. The cool thing about doing a bible study with friends is that not only are you growing closer to God, but you’re also growing closer to your friends. You’re building multiple relationships at once. If you’re looking for a bible study to start with your friends, check out “the armor of God”. You can order the book online and follow along with weekly videos. My friends and I really enjoyed it. It’s easy to follow, tackles real-life scenarios and the things that we deal with as women on a day to day basis.
3. Online Sermons
This would be my next favorite. One of the wonderful things about social media is that you can connect with people all over the world. Online sermons allow you to have top pastors all around the world, share their messages with you right from your home, car or even shower. The thing I like most is that you can search topics into youtube that you’re dealing with or struggling with and the top-rated search results will be given. If you’re not into reading the bible just yet, online sermons are a great way to learn the word of God and his principals to apply them to your life. Some of my favorite pastors to watch is Mike Todd, Steven Furtick, Rich Wilkerson Jr., Jeremy Foster, and Christine Caine. You can find all their videos on YouTube by searching their names.
4. Faith-Based Books & Journaling
I personally love a good read! Faith-based books are awesome because they will include the principals of God in a way that’s more interesting and relatable. For example. If you’re single and also trying to build a relationship with God, a good book to read is “secrets of an irresistible woman” by Michelle Hammond McKinny. The other thing that is really helpful is Journaling. When you self-reflect and analyze your desires, goals, and actions and compare them to God’s word and principals, you are learning a lot about yourself and your heavenly father. Journaling is great after reading the bible, hearing a sermon or attending a bible study. It helps to grasps what you learned and apply it moving forward. Learning about yourself and God at the same time is an awesome way to grow closer to him. He sees all the work you’re putting it.
5. Daily Prayer
The most important and obvious way to grow closer to God is by praying to him daily. Think of prayer like conversations. It doesn’t have to be structured and proper, just talk to him. When I was in the beginning stages of building my relationship with God I would use my car rides to have daily conversations with him. Instead of turning on music, I would just be in thought or speak out loud to him which allowed me to get more comfortable when I speak to him. Now, I speak him to all day. Whether it’s my thoughts or out loud prayer, he is a continues part of every day. Before I go to sleep, I make sure to pray for my loved ones and continuously give thanks. If you’re in the beginning stages of building your relationship, daily devotionals are helpful. One of my favorites is “God Hears Her”.
Hallelujah, amen! I cannot stress enough how important it is at any stage of your relationship with God to give him praise and worship daily. Look at where you were then, compared to now. Look at all the tough times God has brought you through. Our God never gives up on us or forsakes us and for that, he deserves daily praise. I prefer to worship in the mornings. It allows me to start my day off in a positive way and fuels me for the rest of the day. I usually walk to my fitness class and on the way listen to a sermon. When I get back, I shower and listen to gospel music. It’s where I do my best praying and feel the most at ease. I recommend that you praise and worship first thing in the morning before you look at your phone or start your day because the ways of the world will quickly distract you and have you go the whole day without taking a moment for God.
Your influences will help or hinder your growth with God. If you surround yourself with people who don’t believe what you believe, it will foster an environment that is destructive for you. You also don’t want to be around people who say they love God but their actions don’t align. Those types of people do not lead by example and therefore can hinder your growth. Find friends who want the same thing out of life, that share similar values and also want to build a strong relationship with God. Ever hear the saying, “show me your friends and I’ll show you, you”. It’s so true. Be intentional with finding the right people to surround yourself with.
The main thing I want you to take from this post is that God loves you. He doesn’t want or need you to be perfect because there is no such thing. He wants you to learn and understand his words and ways and to be an example of his kind of love to the rest of the world. You can do something that matters each and every day. You can make the world a better place. All of the things we talk about on this blog promotes you knowing and loving who you are. But in order to get there, you have to be confident in yourself and work on the things that you know will make you a better person. There is no better way to do that than to allow God into your life and let him lead you to your best self.
Until next time, be shameless!