Guard rails keep you from plunging down into a canyon.

Guard rails are part of a visualization tool I use with some of my coaching clients. The idea behind it is while we drive on the highway of life, guard rails help us to be mindful of where we are and what is going on. Guard rails help us stay vigilant and focused on the right things in the right ways. Life pulls us all in different directions at times. We all may go off center in our drive and end up off track. Challenges may come into our lives that potentially push us in certain ways. It could be spiritual attacks or simply the way things sometimes just happen in life.

It doesn’t matter as much that life pushes us off course. What matters is how far off track we allow ourselves to go. How we internalize the pressure of life can reveal a lot about us and about God. The way we handle that pressure is more crucial to our spiritual life than the pressure itself. It is my hope these three guard rails may help as you put them in place in your life going forward.

Guard Rail #1: Stay Connected to God

Staying connected to God is a pivotal guard rail. If you lose your focus on God, you could go careening off the edge and end up in a painful place that doesn’t serve you. The great thing about this is that if you do lose focus, you can always safely turn right back toward Him. You can create a space that is especially set aside for personal time with God too. Your time with God is so important!

Consider putting routines in place that remind you to spend time with God or to focus on Him. There are a variety of ways to do this. One way I personally choose is to write notes to myself like “Be vigilant” and keep them near me. This is part of creating one of the sacred, holy spaces I go to that acts like a sort of buffer zone. In that space, I keep notes, pictures, and other items near to remind me of how close God is. I also go downstairs and write on a certain mirror some days when a song or phrase from a piece of prayer comes to mind. Time is set aside for me to do this soon after I wake up. Then on rough days or when I sense later in a day that I may be struggling to feel connected to God, I can go read all these amazing notes, be encouraged, and feel connected to God.

It’s not that I read each note or look at each item every day, but these things are part of a routine that supports my intention. They are part of what makes this space a place of connection with God.

Guard Rail #2: Stay Open to Trusted People Who Pour Into You

Not everyone you like is capable of pouring into you, so be discerning. Make sure there are people around you who understand God’s call on your life and who know God’s word. Such people also have a relationship with Him that they would be able to speak life from and pour into you. You need a tight inner circle of friends like this who can be trusted to speak truth when you go to them and say, “I’m not sure where I’m at. The alignment seems off here. Here’s what’s coming in to me and I’m not sure if it’s from God or if it’s a total distraction.”

Your inner circle–the people who have earned the right to be there because they are loyal, trustworthy, and discerning–speaks truth when uncertainty pauses you. These are people we can listen to. God is always speaking to us, but sometimes it’s hard to hear with the noise of all the other things going on around us or coming toward us, so it’s good to stay open to an inner circle of trusted people.

Guard Rail #3: Choosing to Trust that You Will Get Through

Be careful not to promise yourself that you will get through this unharmed or without difficulty. The enemy of our faith can use this unrealistic type of thinking to trick us. Picture this: when you get married, if your spouse came to you and said, “I love you so much, that I will never hurt you,” you would know they can’t promise this. They don’t know what they might unintentionally do at any point during a long lifetime together. What happens if they do accidentally hurt you? Their intention was good, but the ability to commit to that specific promise was grandiose. When we are setting intentions, we are choosing the way we want to focus our energy, so it’s good to focus our intention to trust on something that cannot cancel it out.

Because the enemy would love for you to start thinking stinking thoughts about relationships, commitment, and trust. He will lie to you if you’re hurt and suggest that perhaps God can’t protect you. We know that’s a lie! So consider who God is and how He operates when choosing the way you word your commitment to yourself. There may be trials that end your life. There may be trials that end relationships. Some trials may physically change you so much that you’ll just never be the same again. If you say, “I trust God to get me through this completely unscathed”, that may not be God’s will. What you can trust is that God is with you in all things. Choose to trust God based on what is always true about Him. The enemy’s whispers will be unbelievable when your belief is centered on truth.

Putting the Guard Rails in Place

Think about how you can put these guard rails in place in your life before you get into trouble. Consider how you can stay connected to God. How can you stay open to a trusted inner circle of perhaps 2 or 3 people? Who are your people? What reminders can you set up for yourself to stay centered on God and who He is? What are you choosing to trust? Are there scriptures that remind you of the truth about God and what He says is possible? Taking the time to do these things for yourself stretches your muscles so you become stronger as the challenges may get harder. Your trust in God will grow as you do.

Would you like to join a diverse, supportive group of Christian women who lead courageously as we grow and live in the awareness of the fullness of God? Join us over in Christian Women Who Lead–we’re welcoming new members every day who value working together in a safe and healthy environment that encourages them to stay rooted in Christ as they run their businesses, create new ministries, and more.