“Spiritual disciplines” are things we do to stay in love with God and grow in faith. They can be things we do alone or together; they can be ways to spend time with God or to serve others. As the people of Sylva First UMC share one of their spiritual disciplines with you each week, we hope it will inspire you to new ways of loving God and growing in faith.
Hello, my name is Chyan Gallardo. Over the last 5 years, I’ve been able to find the best ways to help me stay close to God. Growing up I would go to church and youth groups almost every Sunday. I was also a part of FCA in middle school and high school. I told myself I was doing enough. During most days, especially as I got older, I’d find myself not focusing on God. Despite going to church, praying before meals and bed, and being a part of FCA.
Once I got to college I became, well, selfish. I tried to join FCA but I didn’t connect. I stopped looking for a Christian group to be a part of and only went to church on Sundays. I became someone I’m not proud of.
Sophomore year I joined a campus ministry. I started to find my way back to who I wanted to be. I went on an 8 week self mission trip with them over that summer. During this trip I learned that I really enjoy journaling. I would journal at every meeting and every church service. I filled almost a whole journal those 8 weeks.
I still journal. It helps me really focus on what is being discussed. I find journaling to be calming as well. I will add doodles sometimes and try to make everything look neat. I write down as much as I can, that way I’m able to go back and reread it. To help recreate that connection I had with God that day. I will write in my journals for church, small groups, and Christian events.
Junior year I realized that I didn’t agree on a lot of things they were teaching at the campus ministry. I was raised to not exclude anyone and everyone is welcomed. I started attending Biltmore Church on campus on Wednesdays. I felt welcomed by everyone. I connected to the pastor’s sermons and had great discussions with my peers. I joined one of the small groups and found they hold me accountable with my devotions. It also helps to have a group of people I can turn to for guidance or when I need someone to talk to.
I’ve always loved listening to music. It helps me with any mood I’m in. I’ve always been able to really connect to God with music. My two favorite songs are “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury and “I Can Handle It” by Steven Furtick. Reckless Love soothes my soul, I cry almost every time. It reminds me how much God loves me, loves all of us. That no matter what I do, He’ll love me recklessly, with wide arms. I Can Handle It helps me when I doubt myself. When I’m knocked down and feel like I can’t get up. “…my confidence is not in my circumstance. The Spirit of God is my supply.”
Praying is one of the most common ways to stay close to God. I’ve struggled lately with it because I tend to fall asleep before saying my prayer at night. Sometimes I’ve felt that I have to pray, as an obligation. I hate this feeling. I want to be excited when I pray. So I’ve changed it up. Now instead of using the same “format” I did for years, I try to talk to God as I would a good friend. Tell Him about exciting things from that day, moments where I knew I messed up and needed forgiveness, times where I felt alone and lost. It changes each day. Asking for forgiveness and lifting up prayer requests is always added. I feel like I’m truly connecting with Him now. Sometimes I will say a quick prayer during the day, like a check in.
And finally, I love to watch videos. Whether it be from Youtube, Facebook, Netflix, or Instagram. I connect with videos like how I do with music. One video that will always stay with me is “Jesus Loving Barabbas” by Judah Smith, such a powerful video. Not only is the message absolutely amazing, but the visuals help make the video much more captivating. It captures my attention and gets me wrapped up in the moment. All of these are the ways that help me stay connected to God.