Your schedule is busy, you’re running late to class, your homework isn’t done and you forgot to print something off for class. Your friends tried encouraging you to go to chapel, but you have no time. Even the idea of church on Sunday is exhausting. Devotions take too much time from homework. Praying takes time from a struggling sleep schedule. What do you do?

Breathe. Firstly, breathe. Take time for yourself and relax for a minute. Forcing yourself to do anything within your faith or religion with an exhausted mind is going to annoy you and push you further away. I’m here with some ideas for maintaining a spiritual life and maintaining spiritual practices for the student with an overwhelming schedule.

Listen to Yourself

What do you need at this exact moment? Do you need to sit in a quiet room? Watch a movie to distract your mind? Maybe take a walk? Do whatever that is first. Create a habit of it within your schedule. Don’t force yourself to stick to it. Things change and you will become overwhelmed if you force leisure into a packed day. Let the leisure happen when it happens, don’t force a schedule that will stress you more.

You need time for your mind to relax. A constantly burning brain will crash and you will struggle. Sleep isn’t always the solution but quieting your mind even for 20 minutes is enough to allow processing. Too much stress and your performance will decline.

Don’t force your faith either. Forcing your faith and spiritual practices will only make you miserable. You won’t enjoy it as much and you might not learn anything either because your brain is running in another direction instead of listening. When your faith is forced it falls from being personal and experiential to just another task you have to cross off your list for the day. Listen to what you need first.

Settle for Minimum

Striving for greatness all the time will burn you out. At Hope College, you aren’t required to go to Chapel. You are highly encouraged, and I will also encourage you to attend a few, but there is no one forcing you to go. So, go when you can. Don’t go if you know you will be worrying and stressing the entire time. Find a substitution to fit into your day.

If you can’t attend a Chapel because you have a massive project due for the class at 11:00 AM, maybe talk to a friend who went. Listen to them explain what happened and what they learned. You will still benefit from second-hand learning. This conversation could even strengthen the relationship as you connect over faith together. Or you could check out the livestream from that day at a later time.

You can still be faithful by praying for 2 minutes. A small check-in, that’s it. If structure within your faith is causing stress, try talking to God for a few minutes. You aren’t perfect and will never be expected to be in your faith.

Support Systems

Find a friend or a group that will help you stay accountable. But don’t settle for people who will discourage you if you can’t attend a meeting or hang-out. Your faith shouldn’t be forced on you from others. I know from personal experience that extreme pressure to be perfect in faith drives one away, because the stress that is experienced begins to be associated with faith and religious practices.

A good support system will keep you informed, but they will accept your business. All they should want from you is effort and the willingness to try. They will help you in maintaining your faith. If it truly is an aspect of your life that you want to prioritize more, then that must be worked on as well. Take care of yourself but be committed.

Final Note

You got this. God does not expect you to be perfect in your faith, but he does expect effort. Just try but don’t hold yourself to a level that will eventually ruin your sanity and pleasure in faith. If you aren’t enjoying your faith relationship then something is off. You aren’t doing anything wrong, there are just other things that may be overwhelming you.

As someone who struggled with a severely busy schedule and the desire to be perfect in their faith, I will tell you this; you are loved no matter what and you need the time to love yourself too.

Published by Emily Leegwater

Class of 2024 Hometown: Zeeland, MI Major: English; Creative Writing emphasis Minor: Studio Art

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