Recently, I posted in a Christian Forums and shared about my struggles. My disappointments, my hurts, my dilemmas, etc. Then, there was this helpful lady who replied and shared her struggles. I don’t have to say much.
This distance feeling sometimes comes after a spiritual high. Sometimes it seems like God hides himself. I can’t biblically prove it off of the top of my head, but I know that God woos us and I think his “hiding” of himself is a time when we “woo” God; like lovers do (Song of Solomon) as God is the lover of our souls. Sometimes we neglect the relationship and that creates distance. But, sometimes this rotting feeling comes from having sin in our lives.
I recently came through a period just like what you explained. I’ll share my story in hopes that it will be helpful to you or to someone else reading this. I felt the distance from God too, like I didn’t want to serve anymore, like everything in church was such a drag. I didn’t want to hear rebuke. I was just going through the motions and felt like my insides were rotting out. I asked for help, but strangely, no one seemed to hear me.
For me, my fustrations over my unfulfilled desires for marriage, intimacy, companionship, were drawing me away. There was unforgiveness too against God. I felt that God wasn’t being fair to me, wasn’t rewarding me for being faithful. I did everything that singles are told to do, work on being whole, run hard after God, etc. Yet people who didn’t do any of this were getting married all around me. So, I felt cheated, resentful and lied to. Very few people really knew the depth of my disappointment with God, and those that did kind of brushed it under the rug because on the outside I looked to be successful and godly and I looked like I had it all together. Plus I think, it made them uncomfortable.
Mind you, in the midst of this struggle, I was hearing from the Lord, serving, helping people. Yet, I didn’t want to hear anyone lecturing me and preaching at me. I still grate at the “wait on the Lord” speech from those who got married when they were 22. I was angry at God and started to revert to old behaviors that I thought were gone (cursing, watching ungodly shows, etc.) I did these things secretly, but they would seep out once in a while. I didn’t want to strive for holiness or righteousness anymore and had a “whatever” attitude towards God.
Then, a totally hot, but unsaved man who I was extremely attracted to started making advances. When he’d smile and his eyes would twinkle, my thoughts scrambled and I would just melt. When he flirted with me outwardly I remained businesslike, but inwardly I was so flattered and tempted and I think he knew it. I was playing with fire and felt myself moving closer and closer to compromise. This was not love. I knew that long term we were incompatible. I just plain-old wanted him and I knew if I gave him the signal that I could have him. In my heart I really wanted Mr. Right, but was ready settle for Mr. Right Now to satisfy my curiousity. I was tired of waiting and walking uprightly and felt like I was just wasting my time.
In the midst of all of this, I was in the church serving in 5 different ministries. No one really knew about my struggles. I felt like every time I came to church people just wanted to use me to do something for them. I rarely got a phone call unless someone wanted something. An extra pair of hands, teaching, singing, listening to others, praying for others, offering some service. I did these things and then some because I thought this is what Christians are supposed to do. But most of those people didn’t really care about me as a person or about my calling from the Lord. They just wanted to get their things done. So, I started to stay away from church, only going when I had to. My love for God continued to colder and colder until I regretted that I had ever become a Christian. But it wasn’t the church that made my love grow cold, it had been happening for a long time; it had been growing out of my erroneous notion that if I did x then God would do y. I felt like God just wanted me to work, work, work, while he withheld my hearts desire for love and fulfillment from me.
So … what happened?
First, I did what you are doing now. I started asking people to pray for me. I didn’t really want to, but I asked them to do it anyway because I knew it was the right thing to do. I didn’t trust everyone with the details, just a few mature, godly women (I didn’t feel it would be wisdom to tell a man) that I knew were discreet and that truly loved me. I confessed my thoughts and desires to them. They didn’t judge or lecture me. They told me what was right; simply and with love. Then they prayed for me. I’m so grateful for that. Within a week, the hot guy stopped pursuing me, although my desire for him still remained. I was so disappointed, but I made myself keep distance from him and what was blossoming, died. In fact, our paths will no longer cross as I’m moving to a new assignment. When I said goodbye to him, God was able to give me the strength to maintain my composure and distance. Right before I left, another man, an unbeliever who had really given me a hard time about my faith, commended me on my walk and character. He encouraged me to not yield to temptation and to not compromise. He didn’t know anything about my situation because I’ve never shared anything personal with him. So it was an encouragement from the Lord. It humbled me to think of what could have happened had it not been for the prayers of those mature saints.
Next, I cut back on the busy church stuff and started focusing more on the Lord. I started doing things like taking time to appreciate the beauty of creation, and talking to the Lord in little short prayers (thank you Lord for this beautiful day). I started physically resting and putting balance in my life. I am in the process of seeking God to see which ministries he truly wants me to serve in. I started intentionally enjoying life. And I focused on reconnecting with God. I prayed that the Lord would reignite the fire for him.
I then had to deal with the issues that drew me away. Unforgiveness towards God and lust. Although I knew I was sinning inwardly, I couldn’t see exactly why premarital sex, why lust was wrong. So I prayed and asked God to show me why, in practical terms. Besides it being wrong simply because God said so, He started teaching me about the consequences beyond pregnancy and STDs and about his protection and love. There is no condom for your heart, for your spirit, for your emotions. The “protection” is within the marriage relationship, one that is brought together by God. I saw that God was not withholding from me and that marriage, like singleness, is a gift not a prize for obedience. You do not earn a gift, it is simply something that is given by the giver and then at the time of his choosing. God’s commandments — to not fornicate, to forgive, etc. are there because he loves us.
I also started visiting other churches periodically and heard messages on the grace and goodness of God. I started focusing on enjoying God. At the same time, I made myself listen to the words of rebuke, even when I didn’t want to. Even though no emotions were behind my words, I repented. I asked God to give me a sincere heart, a clean heart. I asked him to bring the love emotions back again.
Little by little, he started bringing revival to my heart. Today, I am focusing relationship with God. To be honest, although I attend church regularly, I really don’t want to attend my church. I’m there strictly out of obedience. But the relationship with God is now different. I don’t think that we can ever really go back to the first feelings with the Lord. Like marriage, I think that over time, with deeper experience, the “feelings” are a bit deeper, a bit sweeter, a bit more profound because we learn that love is not really based on feelings, if that makes sense, but on the Lord himself.
I’ve shared quite a bit, I do hope that some of it is relevant to you or to others; and was helpful in some way.
Take care and God bless, “