The Day I Kissed My Religious Spirit Goodbye

by Michelle Lazurek in Leading Hearts magazine

I can’t believe that woman took my seat. Doesn’t she know that I sit there every Sunday?

Boy, this sermon is long. I wish he’d speed it up a bit.

I can’t believe my friend isn’t here again this week. She’s missed twice this month.

When I got home from church, I felt angry, depressed and just plain cranky. I couldn’t figure out why, so I sat on my bed and asked God to reveal why I felt the way I did.

“Analyze your heart,” He said to me.

Soon all those negative comments came flooding to my mind like a PowerPoint slideshow. I quickly realized I was the reason behind my negative mood, and it had started in my mind. I quickly surmised I had been going through the motions when it came to my spiritual life.

My spirit was quick to complain and tear others down so I could build myself up.

Before I realized it, I had adopted a religious spirit, a spirit that says, “I do nothing wrong, but I’ll be sure to tell you when you do.” This spirit allowed me to merely go through the motions of the faith, rather than foster a heart that worshipped God.

But this wasn’t the first time.

It started with one negative thought. I dwelt on it, and it led to two, then three. Before I knew it, I spent most of my days with negative thoughts swirling in my head.

It started with one negative thought. I dwelt on it, and it led to two, then three. Before I knew it, I spent most of my days with negative thoughts swirling in my head.

It was becoming toxic. Sure, I looked the part. I came in each week dressed to the nines, walking down the aisle to assume my usual seat; one I had reasoned was reserved only for me. After all, I had only missed one time in church all year. That had to count for something, right?

I was wrong.

Instead of exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, etc. — I was exhibiting a religious spirit full of criticism, gossip and endless complaints. I didn’t say it out loud. In fact, when I saw my friends, I plastered on a smile as big as my newly hair sprayed do. But my heart was far from God, and frankly, everyone else too.

But God, who redeems, restores and forgives, gave me another chance. He gently revealed my heart so He could prune away all the bad thoughts to make way for the good ones. I just had to break my spirit of negativity and replace it with a positive one.

For the next seven days, I replaced all negative thoughts with positive ones.

For example, when I criticized the pastor for his long-winded words, I replaced it with “I consider it a joy to sit under his wise teachings.”

Instead of coveting my usual seat, I simply said, “This person is new to my church. I’ll make a point to welcome her after the service.”

It wasn’t easy, as old habits die hard. But after a few weeks, my spirit changed. No longer did I feel angry or depressed. I felt peace, patience, love, and most importantly hope.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Read this issue now at leadinghearts.com or get it delivered direct to your mobile device by texting LEADINGHEARTS to 64600.

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