Plan Hopping: bible reading for the easily distracted

The other day I posted a picture on Instagram that announced that I had been reading on the Bible app for 175 days straight. Now this streak became my longest streak ever at just over 50 days. So I have been excited and terrified ever since; excited and proud because I truly feel like I accomplished something that is really hard for me. And terrified because I know how easy for me it would be to skip a day and see that number drop back to 0.

So this is the story of how I got to that 175. Just to be totally and completely honest with you, this post is very much written with the benefit of hindsight. Because, as the title would suggest, I am very easily distracted. So rather than a 5 point plan, or strategy, I will write abut the things that have helped me stick to it, and building that habit.

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Stories

I have a love/hate relationship with the bible. On the one hand it gives so much wisdom, hope and positivity. I can get absolutely get lost in some stories, psalms and the general message of the new testament. On the other hand, it can be incredibly boring; make absolutely no sense, or just be plain weird.

One thing I should tell you right now, is that I love reading books. My favorites are novels, by far! I just love stories! But when I was young, the bible never appealed to me. And when I look at the bible as if it were a novel, I can see why I wouldn’t like it. Because, yes it is a story, and when you zoom out (like way way way out) there is some coherence and a red thread through it. But when you are reading it, it is way to easy to get lost in the details of whatever book or story you are currently reading. And there are just so so so many of them, that zooming out and connecting the dots is just not easily done. And that gets very frustrating. There have been many moments where I have thought “What was the point??” What was the point of that story, or of that tree, or why did so and so, not just do this or that? Ad what was the point of me reading about it anyway?

Since doing the alpha course I have actually found out that for me, reading the bible does have a purpose and a meaning. And that reading it regularly, actually does bring me closer to God. But I have this problem, where I have ADHD and get easily distracted. I like new, fun and exciting things, and when they stop being new, fun and/or exciting I lose interest. Sad, but true. So I have to find ways to make reading the bible, new, fun and exciting on a regular basis. And that is not an easy task. The one thing the Bible does have as a major advantage though, is that it is just so big. It has so many stories, poems, characters, books and themes in it that there is always something new and interesting to read about.

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Keep it fun and interesting

Like I said before, I lose interest fast. So I have to find ways around that, ways to make it fun and interesting. My favourite way to do that is the reading plans in the YouVersion Bible app. Those reading plan have many different topics, and lengths. I love that, there are plans of 3 or 4 days, to months or even a year. Those shorter ones are perfect for the easily-distracted.

But also, there are so many topics and themes, that you can always find something that is relevant for you. There’s dating, fear, anxiety, joy, peace, doubt and everything in between. If I am facing any kind of anxiety, or fear, I’ll search in that category. Below I will leave a list with my favourite reading plans, with links to them.

One thing I love about the app, is that it lets you check out a sample of the reading plan, which I always do. Because I can be very picky. Somethings I have just no patience for, like a tone in a devotional that is too prescriptive; that can make me cringe. Or if the devotional is the same every day, that just does not jive with me. So I always check out the sample.

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Just keep reading Be kind to yourself

Making reading the Bible consistently, for me was not merely an issue of just keep reading, Especially if I was reading a book from start to finish, just continuing where I had left of yesterday seemed incredibly tedious, and the question “why” would pop into my head way to often. So I would often just get frustrated, and stop reading. Like full stop, stop reading for weeks on end.

So, I had to figure out what would work for me, so that I would be consistent. I had to be kind to myself, when the world can put a magnifying glass on all the things I was not good at. So ironically, for me, consistency came when I let go of the need to be consistent. Or to be more specific, the need to finish what I started.

There have been many occasions where I have started with a plan or book, fully intent on riding it out. But somewhere along the way it would stop resonating with me. I was asking too many questions, or having more arguments in my head with whoever wrote the plan. For me, there came a point where I asked myself if this was what I wanted to get out of reading the Bible. And it wasn’t. I wanted to learn stuff that I can use in my life. I wanted to learn how I could look at things differently. And mostly, I wanted to feel good. That may sound shallow, but in the end I think we all want that.

So now, when I am following a reading plan that for one reason or another stops being meaningful to me, that’s OK. I can find one that is. In the end, the point is never to READ the Bible. It’s to learn something. It’s to grow closer to God, and be more in tune to the world and things He created. And God doesn’t make mistakes, so my ADHD and quick loss of interest does serve a purpose.

On the other hand, I have many different interests, and I am easily distracted. So it will happen quite often, that I open my app, and in the timeline section I see an interesting plan being recommended. I’ll click it, find it actually interesting and then start with it. So, all in all, when you look at my Bible app, nowadays, it is not uncommon to see 5 or more reading plans open; and in various states of completion. I think cherry-picking is OK here. It means God gave me lot of different interests and that I change my mind…. A lot. After all, I’m only human.

Favourite reading plans

Undecided? (7 days) – For when you are still undecided about your faith in God. This was the very first reading plan I ever followed, and it really helped me come to terms with my doubts and assumptions.

Relaxing with God (8 days) – For when you feel high strung, anxious and /or stressed. This plan helped me in part to realize that God is in control and that that means that I can relax and lean back against Him.

Simplify (10 days) – I love a good 10 step plan (or however many steps it takes). And this one is perfect for our busy modern lives. It aims to help you in dialing the business back and re-prioritising your life.

Get lost: love feast (10 days) – This is for anybody who needs a fresh reminder of all of the ways in which God loves us. I might be redoing this plan some time soon myself.

Living the surrendered life (21 days) – This one took some guts for me to start, and to finish. Surrendering is just about the scariest thing I can imagine, but this plan was very illuminating. What made me more eager to try this one, was that it had very practical action steps at the end of each devotional. The honesty with which it was written also helped a great deal.

C.S. Lewis & Joy (5 days) – Oh, the master of Christian wisdom himself. I love many C.S. Lweis quotes, because they are so clear, yet so subtle and have so much wisdom. This plan is no different.

Well Done (5 days) – A plan specifically for women. It is aimed at showing us exactly how God sees , us. That we can forget the lies that somehow what we did today or any other day, was some how not enough. It shows us that God looks at us with pride, love and joy at what we have accomplished.

Unconvinced; exploring faith as a skeptic (7 days) – An interesting bible reading plan for those of us who sometimes are filled with doubt, and who have those big questions that rarely get a satisfying answer; like why is there so much evil in the world; or why don’t science and religion line up?

Just such a time (10 days) – This title should ring bells with many of you. This verse from Esther has given me a lot of courage lately, as you can read here. The plan is aimed at reconnecting with the purpose and plan God has for you, especially when life is throwing you curve-balls.

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