Building your relationship with God

Catholic at Home

Jennifer Antkowiak

Years ago, I interviewed Bishop David Zubik for a book on how to help family caregivers. An entire chapter was devoted to the strength that faith gives us.  Having been a family caregiver myself, and knowing that Bishop Zubik was also a caregiver, I was eager for the conversation. 

“Bishop, when a loved one is sick, or dying, it can be hard for us to understand how God could let that happen.  And, as we struggle for something that makes sense, we can start to feel frustration with God. What should people do when they feel angry with God?” I asked.

Bishop Zubik answered, “If you are angry at God, you should yell at Him and let Him know about it.”

We laughed at my surprise at his response. Then the Bishop went on to say, “I mean it.  If you are angry with God, tell Him.   We need to think of God as an earthly father.  We need to build a relationship with Him.  He loves us and wants to have a relationship with us.”

Framing my faith that way, as having a real relationship with God, has helped me in many ways over many years. Tuning in to His presence throughout my day is life-changing.

How can we experience more peace, joy, love, and feelings of purpose through a better relationship with Jesus?  I offer these five tips:

  1. Talk to Him:  Make it a daily routine. This can be through formal prayer, or with informal conversation. Wake up and thank Him for the hope and promise of a new day. Ask for His help as you consider how to serve Him and others. Ask Him to help you feel His presence.
  2. Obey Him: Examine your daily dedication to trying to live like Jesus. Are you holding true to His values and commandments in the way you treat yourself and those around you?  Honoring and obeying Him — “living” Him— draws you closer to Him.
  3. Learn about Him:  When you’re developing a relationship with someone, a basic is to learn more about the person.  Where were they born? Who are their parents?  How were they raised? What do they hold dear? We can learn more about Jesus through the scriptures.  Carve out time to dive into reading the stories of His life, and what He had to say about how we should live.
  4. Show gratitude to Him: Lifting our hearts in thankful prayer immediately transforms our souls in ways that ripple out to those around us.  Softening our hearts when life is hard is easier said than done, but Jesus can help with that, too.  Just ask.  
  5. Invite Him in: How can you welcome Jesus into your life on a daily basis?  He loves us.  He wants to be with us for all the little things as well as the big ones. He’s ready and waiting to help every minute of every day. Maximize your minutes with Him.

When I discussed this recently with people in our diocesan Facebook and Instagram communities, we heard some wonderful ways that people are planning to build a better relationship with Jesus this year.

Stephen wants to include more prayer and volunteer work in his routine.  He also shared he is “carefully avoiding over-planning to keep things fresh and enthusiastic.”

Meg will take advantage of adoration at her parish to help her feel more connected with Jesus. She intends to devote quiet time for talking with Him.

Bernadette plans to learn more about Jesus by participating in various small groups, receiving the sacraments and by seeking opportunities to be more present to others.

There is still time to make a 2021 resolution to build a better relationship with Jesus.  With Him in your heart, the future looks bright.