Day 2 of #boldaslions!
For the next 30 days we are talking about what it means to #livebold in our faith, family, career and community.
Yesterday I shared the front cover of my book and commissioned each and every one of us to do our part to live bold.
But, where do we start?
How do we begin?
Especially when we feel unclear, weak or even powerless…
Well… Simple. Stupid. Hard.
We start on our knees.
We start in prayer.
We start by setting our hearts on things above because let’s face it, this world is cra-cra and as long as we’re looking around us, it’s likely we will live defeated, frustrated and worried.
We must look up because Heaven is where are dreams reside. By getting on our knees, we realign with the very dreams Gods put within us and we begin to strengthen our clarity and conviction! The Bible uses a form of the word prayer 375 times. There is a reason. It’s in these quiet moments of going in that we align with the heart of God, we hear Him speak, we capture the voice of our very own dreams.
Too often we are looking around us trying to find the answers. We rely on facts, statistics, information to guide our lives. We tune in to the media, news, and social media to give us insight and direction. By all means, do your research, don’t ignore the plethora of information that’s out there, it can be beneficial but not at the sake of losing your own voice.
Many know a lot at a cognitive level. We know a lot about money, science, the mind, body, health and nutrition, how to be successful in business, and how to achieve. We hear what everybody else is saying but we can’t even hear our own voice.
The how to’s are out there so we “google” more yet we know less.
So how do we hear our own voice?
I write a lot about this in my book DREAM – I Dare You, this idea of knowing.
Knowing is the still, small voice inside you. It’s your gut, your intuition, that nudge that you feel. It’s the very voice of God, in you. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” (Romans 8:14 NIV)
When we are led from this place, when we follow His voice, that nudge, we are partnering with Heaven and bringing our slice of Heaven to this Earth. That’s why when the Bible says, “Set your hearts on things above,” (Colossians 3:1 NIV) it means it because your dreams actually come straight from this place. It’s when we align ourselves with what Heaven is doing, with what God is dreaming, that our own dreams are born.
That means the answers we are wanting don’t exist around us… they exist within us.
I am a firm believer that we always know…
It’s often not about if we can know but rather if we want to know.
Knowing takes a level of responsibility because the minute I know the answer, I need to do something about it.
Maya Angelou says, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”
Many ask: How can I know? It’s not that easy Julia. I have big questions that need real answers. How can I know?
The Bible is very clear about this.
It says, “Be still, and know that I am God (emphasis mine).” (Psalm 46:10 NIV). We must be still before God, in prayer, to find the answers to the questions we are asking.
I’ve learned in my own experience that it’s less about learning how and more about just the practice of creating space to do it, to “go in,” as I call it. So what I’m going to ask you to do is just that, create space and “go in.”
Too often we look at prayer or even meditation as something we should be good at as though it’s a grading scale or like there’s a “wrong way” or a “right way” to do this. Prayer and meditation is about connection to yourself and God. It’s not an achievement or something to check off our list. It’s our lifeline.
“..but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (prayer). 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)
How to Know.
When I say create space and “go in” what I mean is create an environment around you and within you that enables you to tune in to yourself and God in you while tuning out the rest of the world. It’s about blocking out all the noise—the excuses, the reasons, the judgment, the opinions of others, your past, future, fear, doubt, worry and/or justification and just going quiet with yourself. Because, when was the last time you did that?
My point exactly…
I have found that there are four steps to this process. And I am going to teach you how I do this…
- Create Space. So first things first, I am going to ask you to create space in any way you can. Go to your favorite place in your home, go outside and find your most favorite beautiful view, anywhere that provides the peace and serenity you need to clear your mind and tap into yourself. It’s likely that you are going to have to intentionally block out time on your calendar to do this; you can do this every morning before the hustle and bustle of the day begins. We must create the space because it won’t create itself. Otherwise, we’ll miss these moments of quiet.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:1-3 NIV)
There is that prompt again, “He makes me lie down… He leads me.” This is a very, sit your butt down, proactive statement. Why? Because could it be that if he doesn’t make us lie down and rest that we’ll miss the still waters? By not doing this, we miss the opportunity to “go in.” Regardless, you and only you are responsible for creating this space and no, it’s not going to come easy at first. It doesn’t happen on its own accord. It’s something we must be intention about. And no, you’re not too busy. Even in the Bible, it talks about Jesus praying privately at the Garden of Gethsemane, a mountain, the wilderness, a deserted place. Bottom line, if Jesus can do this, as busy as he was, so can you. We are never too busy, it’s just where we put our priorities.
When you find this quiet space around you and within you, not only are you connecting with yourself and God, you are actually changing your brain because the prefrontal cortex actually shuts off. This is the part of the brain that holds your mental chatter. Research has shown that these meditative states lower anxiety, stress, and any level of angst because we are literally turning off the parts of the brain that create unchecked thought processes, resulting in misaligned emotions. That’s why, when you’re in these quiet, meditative states, you will find your heart starting to share its answers with you. It doesn’t share these matters with you prior to being in this state because it’s too kind to compete with all the other noise. It won’t. It will stay still until you are. This also helps to realign us with the source of our wisdom and strength.
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” (1 Chronicles 16:11 NIV)
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3 NIV)
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” (1 John 5:14 NIV)
- Dance with the chatter. When I sit down to “go in,” I first approach my chatter layer. This is usually a rather disruptive, awkward five minutes. My mind is going crazy. Like the top of my head, where my brain is, actually feels like it is on fire. It’s screaming to be heard, vying for my attention and like the painful process of someone going through withdrawals, it’s really loud until it stops resisting and finally gives in. It does give in, I promise. You have to remember that the enemy uses our thoughts and the chatter of our mind to distract us from the purposes of God in our lives. The last thing he wants you to do is to get quiet with yourself and with God because he knows the power of this quiet place. The enemy knows that when you know, you are an unstoppable force. You’ve got to dance with this phase. Resisting it will not work… I’ve tried. Instead, dance.
- Grab a pen. The second layer is usually where I grab a pen and paper because it is beyond the rather psycho, chatter layer and becomes rather constructive. At this layer, I’m not yet in a heartfelt layer but I do come up with some pretty cool ideas. This is the layer where I all of a sudden I remember to call someone I forgot. I come up with a cool branding idea. I think of a cool Bible story I want to tell my kids. I’m reminded of past ideas and strategies that came to me that I haven’t put into action yet. For me, this is a progressive state so I capture the thoughts and reminders it brings to me and I jot it all down on a piece of paper with no additional planning or energy. Just write it down and let it be. This layer can take 5 minutes or it can take 15 but believe me, it too runs itself out and once it does, you’re “in.”
- Hold the Vision. The third layer is where I am “in.” This is the creation layer. This is the heart phase where my ego is not allowed. It’s not about being “right” or “wrong,” it’s not about the “can’s” and “cannot’s” and it’s way beyond any fear, worry, or ping of doubt I could experience. This phase is about the nudge, the gut feeling, the intuition, following the lead of my knowing, hearing the voice of God speak to me and through me. Oftentimes at this phase you’ll see images and pictures, get a full download of insight, gain understanding you’ve never had before, tap into deeper levels of curiosity, and/or you’ll begin to clarify your realest, purest, wildest dreams without any effort whatsoever.
We’re funny because we think God should show up and talk to us in literal, practical ways as if He speaks our language, but God speaks in signs and wonders. The Bible says, “I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below (emphasis mine).” (Acts 2:19 NIV) It’s pure, gentle, subtle and lot of times, even blank. In this level of creation, never hold yourself back from what you see, never criticize yourself or your imagination, don’t compare, reason or even ask “how.” Stay true to what you find. Connect with yourself. Connect with God. Connect with your dreams.
Once this phase is done, again, this can last 5 minutes or it can last 30 minutes, and I have seen all I need to see (even if that means nothing), I grab my journal. I encourage you to do the same. This is when I write down every single thing I saw, felt, noticed, and experienced. I write it all down, doing my best to leave nothing behind. I capture every last word and I write the visions of my heart. Here’s why. When you come out of this state, real life is going to hit you. Mind chatter, distractions, reality, all the things. You are going to have to keep close to you the things that came to you while you were “in” so you can begin to manifest those when you are “out.” You are going to have to hold the vision and trust the process.
“What if I do this wrong?” I did have a coaching student say to me once, “I’m not as profound and deep as you. I mean, I’m a tactical guy and I need more of a 1, 2, 3 step guide to praying and talking to God.” Oh Lord in Heaven I thought. This proves my point exactly. We don’t need a “1, 2, 3 step guide” because that would defeat the purpose. Just as a relationship with a husband and wife is unique and fashioned only for them, so is the relationships you have with yourself and with God. There is no other you and there is no other relationship like the one you have with yourself and with God which means, there is no “1, 2, 3 step guide.”
“Well how will I know when it’s a dream? How will I know I am hearing God?” You practice. You practice and you practice and you practice. Sometimes you won’t recognize your own voice or even God’s voice because you’re so used to hearing everyone else’s. Begin this process and let it be more about gaining familiarity than getting it right. It’s about learning to trust yourself and trust His leading and that will only come when you begin this process, start your journey and reflect as you go. That’s why this is a daily process.
“What if I don’t hear anything in this quiet space?” This isn’t always about hearing something every time you do it. Often it’s about knowing. In Proverbs it says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” (Proverbs 25:2 NIV) What does that mean? It means that God is not keeping anything from you. It also doesn’t mean He’s not answering your prayers. It simply means that He is God and you are not. It means that He wants to be in a relationship with you more than He wants to even give you answers. It’s opportunity for you to want the healer more than the healing. If you understood everything, you wouldn’t need God. This space is designed to build and develop intimacy between you and God, you and yourself.
Now it’s your turn.
Can you take the time and can you create the space to “go in?” And when you do, consider the following questions:
What do I want most?
What’s most important to me?
What will make me the most proud?
If I wasn’t afraid of being hurt again, what would I do?
Even if I would be hurt or disappointed, what would I go after?
If I felt loved and supported, how would I live my life?
If I wasn’t dependent on other people’s approval, what would I do?
If I no longer had to settle, what would I go after?
What has God put on my heart?
God, show me your heart… what do you want for me?
Ask one of the above questions and then, “go in” and let God speak.
All of these questions will give you many ways “in.” Ask a question and surrender to the process. Don’t judge the outcome. Don’t rush the process. Be still and know.
This is where you learn to lean in and learn about him in ways you didn’t even know you didn’t know or understand. Believe it or not, this is what strengthens your connection to yourself and to him.
Want to live bold?