If you started the year with grand claims: “New Year, New Me!” and now find yourself returning to the same struggles that held you in 2021, there is something important you must know. You cannot make yourself new.
There are times when we crave a renewal, a fresh start, but it’s impossible to create one from within, when all we have to do it are our same old selves. Just as a child cannot grow itself apart from it’s mother, becoming new is a process that must take place from without.
One of my favorite verses on renewal, Romans 12:2, reveals this. “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”
Now, I’ve always thought of that as an active thing, but the fact is, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” is a passive phrase. It is not active. It does not command “renew your mind,” it commands “be transformed” and the renewing is done separately. It is done in waiting.
I find this true in other verses as well:
“God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10 “He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3 “Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16
But if I cannot renew myself, then how can I, let’s just say, coax God into doing it? I’m a tired writer and mom of two toddlers. We’ve been sick this year too many times to count. My husband worked overtime for three months straight. It became impossible to gather an ounce of creativity. So what do I do? How can I be renewed, if I am not in charge of the process?
I can present myself for renewal. I turn to the sources that can renew. This is more than self-care, this is trusting that God will be faithful to provide a soul-deep renewal. And He does. Here are a few ways I present myself for renewal, that tend to reignite inspiration.
Ways God Renews the Soul
The Bible It’s the ultimate story, and I don’t say that to be trite. It is the world’s bestseller and it weaves hundreds of smaller stories into dozens of larger stories into one magnificent story in the most artistic way. It inspires creativity and restores the soul.
Nature The ultimate creative expression is all around and nothing refreshes me more than time in nature. Walking away from the screens for a bit reconnects me to the real world all around, begging for me to slow down and watch a butterfly flit around the yard, or blow dandelions with my daughter. It renews.
Community From the family that encourages me, to the church that feeds my spiritual life, to the strangers I overhear at the coffee shop who give me a perfect idea for a conversation bit in a story (oh yes, that happens). I believe every unique personality out there is a reflection of a God so endless we cannot fathom it. Spending time with those various people can reveal tidbits of that God, spurring creativity and refreshing my tank. Sure, as an introvert, it can get a bit tiresome, but life as a hermit wouldn’t be very inspirational. (Or would it…)
Music I’m convinced God loves music and he wrote it into our DNA. Music can transport me to another world. It can be encouraging, turning me to worship. It can be relaxing. It can be sad, when I need to let some feelings out. Music can turn the noise and chaos around me into something with rhythm and movement.
Reading Reading quality literature is like hearing an elaborate parable. It can point me to spiritual truths in a new and relatable way. Good Christian novels often inspire me to go back to my own writing and reignite my desire to share truth in parable as well. Jesus loved parables for a reason.
Rest Rest can come in many forms and it is not purely physical. While, yes, sleep is absolutely essential, rest can come to the body in a half hour in a hammock, a bubble bath and glass of wine, or an afternoon cuddle with a child. But rest can be mental too—and for me, that often means a body in motion. Because when my body rests, my mind wanders. When my body moves, my mind rests.
Throughout the years, God has renewed me in other ways too. There have been inspirational travels, surprise letters in the mail, even through help from counselors at times. Certainly, there are many ways to be renewed, and often we may feel like the initiators as we seek them out. But ultimately, nothing will truly make the soul new again unless the One that made the soul is involved.
Go and be renewed.