This is a continuation of "My Spiritual Practices," a blog series highlighting a variety of people through interviews about their spiritual life and practices.
I love learning from other people, and in particular, learning how they live out their faith in daily life. Each person being interviewed is sharing an intimate look at their lives. For that, I am grateful. My hope is that these interviews will offer us a snapshot of how different people experience God in their lives, and that they might inspire and guide us in our own unique spiritual journeys.
Brianna Wilkerson is a health and nutrition coach, student ministry volunteer, accountant,
worship leader, and blogger for her holistic health business, Made Well. Brianna started Made Well out of her own personal health journey and understanding that only through the pursuit of holistic health (spiritual, emotional, mental and physical) can one actually be made healthy, whole and well. She lives in the Cayman Islands with her husband.
How do you connect with God? What spiritual practices and rhythms do you have?
I connect best with God primarily through reflecting and worship. Through prayer journalling, I’m able to focus my thoughts and prayers and reflect on what I’m feeling and what God is trying to say and do in and around me. Through worship music, I hear him speak right to my soul and it helps me respond to him in adoration, repentance, thanksgiving or intercession.
The Psalms are always my go-to scripture for comfort, guidance, worship and simply to put words to what I’m feeling God do or say. The Psalms are songs, so naturally, my heart is drawn to the way emotions are articulated through words and music.
My spiritual practices and rhythms include daily quiet time with God, where I pray, journal, worship, and read his word. I also read books of some kind and ask God what he is saying through it. I also host small group bible study at my house with my husband, co-lead worship at my church, and try to practice moments, hours, and days of rest.
And to be honest, I see my health coaching job as ministry. I have the great opportunity to get to know people and empower them in areas other than just how to eat or workout, but how to deal with root causes of a possible broken relationship with food, themselves, and others. We talk about relationships, their dreams/passions, and even spirituality and Jesus. I always leave a coaching session so filled and with joy, knowing that God was present and moving during that short or long time my clients and I were meeting.
What daily or weekly spiritual practices are most important to you?
Describe the environment that helps you best connect with God.
When trying to have my own personal time with God, any space that is quiet and I can have my own private space. Someone else can be in the same room as me, but I need to have my own space where I can look up or do whatever I need to do, without having to worry about them right around me or look at them. I prefer to be by the water, but if not, just the privacy of my own home has worked really well for me.
What tools or resources help you connect with God?
Journal and pen, Bible, any bible study by First Place 4 Health, and worship music/Ipod. Even before I would say I fully committed to Jesus’ lordship in my life, I always wrote my prayers in journals and found that I could be more focused, more honest, and understand God more when I wrote. So I still do it to this day! My heart is also for musical worship, meditation, and reflection. So my typical quiet time looks like me journaling, doing a bible study, or reading the word, and responding by listening to some worship music and praying in the way God leads.
How have your spiritual practices changed over recent years?
I don’t think my spiritual practices have changed over the years, as much as they have deepened. Since I truly started to follow Jesus 7 years ago, musical worship, journaling, regular small group and corporate study/worship, reading and meditation on the Word, and times in solitude have been consistent in my life. However, as I face more of what life brings, I find my soul longing for more time to do all of those things. I find that I can go deeper quicker in those practices as my relationship deepens with God and we journey longer together.
On days when your schedule changes, are you able to adapt your spiritual practices to fit in with a different environment?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I am a morning quiet time girl and love to get a hot cup of coffee, my journal, Ipod, and Bible, and have me some Jesus time. However, I often find that sometimes I have to be certain places early in the morning, which either cuts down on my time with God or eliminates it when I'm too exhausted from the days before. Sometimes I find other times in the day to have quiet time, but sometimes I don’t. On those days, I’m challenge to sneak away for a few minutes just to sit and speak with God, and to also just speak with him in everyday life. His presence is always with us, it’s just a matter of acknowledging His presence and accepting that He is near - which is harder some days than others.
Do you practice the Sabbath or spiritual retreat? If so, what does that look like for you?
To be honest, I’ve always struggled with Sabbath. The idea of taking a day off to rest has always felt like a luxury I couldn’t afford to have. However, in the last month, I have felt God convicting my heart of that and showing me that rest is not a matter of leisure, self-indulgence, or luxury, but is actually a matter of self-denial where I have to choose to deny my Type A and work-a-holic self to sit and enjoy his rest. To see that ultimately, he is the one who is in all things, does all things, and from all things come from.
As of late, sabbath and spiritual retreats simply look like making more space on the weekend and everyday life to just sit, rest, reflect and not have my mind going in a million directions. I have felt God saying that rest for me cannot be one day, but has to be my lifestyle. That from everything I do and say, to operate out of his Yoke, His rest, and His power.
What people or relationships contribute most to your spiritual growth?
So many! My husband and I have both been so fortunate to have great Christian friends, leaders, mentors and family members in our lives. Whether it be our InterVarsity Staff and community, Tampa church community (Tampa Underground), Cayman church community (Church of God Chapel George Town), other Christian married couples, Christian friends around our age and even the students we work with, so many individuals speak into our life and walk with God - and we are so grateful for them!
For me in particular, women who are older than me and love Jesus have played a huge role in my life by mentoring me, coaching me, listening to me, and challenging me to go in the direction God is leading.
What gets in the way of your spiritual growth?
Saying yes to too many things, putting too much meetings or activities in my schedule and honestly, not resting physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. Since I’m in the process of starting my own business while working another job, I have found that I tend to see every moment as a chance to do some sort of work - send an email, meet up with a client, share an essential oil sample, etc. But what I realized over the last few weeks is that although I was still having quiet time, I didn’t feel like I was fully present in those times and definitely missed out on what God may have been saying and doing.
Since coming back from a Young Leaders Christian Conference in Indonesia this past summer, I’ve really seen the importance of making moments, hours, days of rest a regular thing, and not just when I’ve reached the end of myself and am completely burnt out.
I’ve started reading this book called “The Radical Pursuit of Rest” by John Koessler and it has challenged everything I’ve ever thought about what rest really is. I went into reading the book telling God that I need more than a day of rest but a lifestyle of rest where I learn to abide in him and make moments to just be every single day. And what I’ve found since reading this book and creating space to just be and sit with God, my soul has felt more at peace and revived in this stage of transition than it has in years.
I have truly come to see that in order to grow in my walk with God, I must create space to truly be at rest and reflect to see all that he is doing and wants to do.
What do you do when you get spiritually stuck?
I tell those closest to me what’s going on and ask for prayer. I also just cry out to God, asking for him to show me himself and to show me where I may be walking the wrong way, or if I need to do anything. I try my best to not just stay in being spiritually stuck, but to actively move forward and get out of the rut I may be in, with the help of Jesus and others.
How do you connect with God through life transitions?
Conversations with both God and people, journalling and honestly, tears. I’m a firm believer that processing what we are thinking and feeling is a fundamental way to deal with transitions. So many positive and negative emotions come with transitions and you often feel alone in those feelings. It’s funny you ask actually, I’m going through a life transition right now in taking some risks to further my business and I feel both excited and scared out of my pants! Yet, by sharing those feelings with others and God, I have felt peace, joy, and expectation. I’ve also felt the presence of God so near and know that he is faithful in both times of stability and instability and I must, no matter how I feel, hold fast to the truth that he is the same yesterday, today and forever.
What is one particular way you’ve experienced God recently?
Honestly? It’s hard to pick one. I feel like ever since I’ve stopped to actually reflect on each day to see what God did or was up to, I’ve seen Him move mightily in so many ways! This is definitely thanks to your Daily Examen guide on your website! :)
However, if I have to narrow it down to only one, I would say him providing a way for me to pursue the health and wellness building he has called me to, as well as still work in my accounting job until my business is ready for me to give it my full attention. That is a gift I know only a Good Father could give, and I am so incredibly humbled and grateful for it.
What bit of wisdom from your own spiritual journey do you want others to know?
Understanding who God is and what it means to have a relationship with him is simply, a journey. You never fully arrive here on earth, but each day is an opportunity to learn more about God, experience His love, and partner with what He’s doing around you and in the world. Don’t try to get everything perfect - rest in his grace and receive it. Pursue Jesus and let him love you, completely and unconditionally.
If you enjoyed this post, check out these related posts:
My Spiritual Practices: An Interview With Adele Booysen
My Spiritual Practices: An Interview With Mark Hage
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Aloha! I'm Larissa, a spiritual director and Enneagram coach. I help others in their pursuit of God and their God-given calling.
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