If you’ve ever tried to pick up a new hobby, activity, or sport, you know it can be really hard to figure out where to begin. You might’ve seen someone do something really cool, and in a moment, you wanted to be as talented, as poised, or as skilled as they were. So, you put your mind to it: you buy or gather the things you need, you get ready to be a prodigy, and then you realize: where do I actually start?
When I was in middle school, I was a big fan of the show American Idol. For those who don’t know (I honestly don’t know if it’s even on T.V. anymore), it is a show that takes any person who is a skilled singer to Hollywood. There, they compete against other singers to be the next American Idol, where they get a record deal and go on tour. Middle school Katie obviously then thought all it took to become a famous singer was to audition for something once, and the world would be in awe of my undeniable talent. And boy oh boy was I in for a shock.
You already know where this story is going. I signed up to audition in my 7th grade talent show. My song was ready, albeit totally unrehearsed, and I was psyching myself up to be the star of the show. Long story short, my audition was abysmal. To my shock, I didn’t get a spot in the upcoming talent show.
A teacher slowly came up to me after and asked what I had done to prepare for my audition. In that moment, I realized I had done absolutely nothing to prepare. I had just picked a song and showed up. Now, having this confidence is certainly not a bad thing, but being ill prepared was certainly not going to get me far.
I think this idea also translates into our relationship with the Lord. When we encounter Him for the first time, it can be so exciting! However, in the midst of our excitement, we must remember that our spiritual journey is just that: a journey. And every journey must start somewhere. Every skill we acquire has to start somewhere, and our relationship with the Lord must start somewhere.
So what’s the best way to get better at something? To know what our goal is. And Jesus makes that clear in the Gospel of Matthew, where He says our greatest commandment is to “love the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus boils our relationship with Him into two practical ways: love God and love neighbor. This is not something that we can do once and consider ourselves an expert, but rather an invitation to start a transformative journey with the one who loves us more than we could ever imagine. Every day we have the opportunity to learn new ways to love God and love our neighbor, both near and far.
It may be hard at first, even clunky, but that is okay! We serve a God who is full of grace and forgiveness, so as we’re navigating what Jesus’ commands look like in our lives and genuinely want to pursue a relationship with Him, our relationships will only grow and prosper. – Katie Hufnagle
Journal Guide: Take some time to get alone today and take about 15-20 minutes to journal through these questions. Journaling is a way we pray to God, so see what God might be telling you.
1. What is your favorite hobby right now?
2. What is a skill you have tried to acquire recently? Have you been able to improve on it?
3. What are some ways you have or seen others love God and love neighbor?
4. Take some time to write a prayer to God.
Conversation Guide: Ask three questions to your siblings and parents. We think doing it over the dinner table or right after dinner is a great time to do it.
1. What is a skill you have wanted to get better at, but can never seem to find the time to devote to it?
2. What are some ways we can help each other learn how to love God? Love neighbor?
3. How can we as a family love God and neighbor?
Prayer: Read Matthew 22 and then read this prayer by yourself:
Dear God, thank you for your consistency as I begin to learn new things about you and how to best love you. Show me new ways that I can grow in my relationship with you and share that with those around me as I love my neighbors during this time. Show me a new part of Yourself today and grant me patience with myself as I learn, grow, and serve you. Grant me a heart to love those around me as you have commanded. Thank you for your steadfast love and our ability to show the world how deep your love it. I love you. Amen.