How can you grow closer to Jesus? You might start by noticing what happens when you engage in spiritual disciplines, such as prayer and worship.
For example, is your worship Spirit-led or driven by a sanctimonious part of your soul? If you notice a lot of shoulds in your mind, such as, “You should be praying longer . . . You shouldn’t be feeling distracted or angry . . .you can bet these messages are coming from a sanctimonious part of you that’s trying to help you, rather than from the Spirit of God dwelling within you. Jesus’ voice, although authoritative, is never shaming. Pray for that part of your soul that has internalized a critical spirit—it needs your care. Assure that part of you that you understand its concern, and that your true desire is to connect authentically with Jesus.
Consider, also, how the straying parts of your soul respond when you turn your mind to God. For example, you might notice a part nodding off, distracting you with daydreams or luring your attention with your favorite escape. Then befriend these well-meaning internal escape artists and ask them to give you some space so you can keep your eyes on Jesus.
Try thinking of these parts of yourself as well-meaning protectors. As you appreciate them, they’ll relax. As your protectors step back, you can invite Jesus to draw near the suffering parts of your soul most in need of his care. You might become aware of a suffering part that’s feeling far from God or doubting his goodness. Focus on and befriend this suffering part, and witness it from your Spirit-led self, the place where the Holy Spirit dwells within you: I see that you’re lonely. I’m here with you. As you turn your attention to these struggling parts, you’re developing a richer, more intimate relationship with him. You’re developing healthy boundaries in your soul.