Returning to Jesus

A reminder that tomorrow we will commit to praying and fasting for God to bring marriage to those of us who desire it, to strengthen both men and women in their personal and relational lives, and to bring change within our hearts, minds, and spirits.

The process of writing today’s post included major writer’s block for me.  In the midst of brainstorming I found myself eating leftover sushi, nuzzling with my cat, checking Facebook, and trying on a recently purchased lipstick for the 15th time, trying to decide if I liked it enough to keep.  (The verdict:  Only if I’m going for an 80’s, frosted pink look.  So no.)

“Why is it so hard for me to settle down and reflect with Jesus?”, I thought.  The answer came almost as quickly as the question: I have been experiencing distance and disconnect with God lately.  I’ve known this for a couple of months, but rather than face the feelings of sadness and shame that accompany the gulf, I’ve filled my life with all sorts of things to numb the spiritual loneliness that pushes in at the edge of my spirit: dating, friends, the internet, t.v., ice cream, and on and on.

I’ve experienced this feeling of distance before, as I’m sure we all have from time to time.  It always results from choices I make that take me bit by bit away from the strong arms of the Father.  Life crowds in and I choose to attend first to my own self-defined needs rather than investing in sacred time with God and letting Him guide and direct me.  First it’s a day here, a day there.  And then suddenly months have gone by without regular, intentional meditation on scripture and time spent in silence with Jesus.  As time passes my allegiance shifts away from God and attaches to the world.  I begin to base my worth and longings on what the world says I need and claims it will provide for me, not on what God desires, which is often very different.  Always, always this leads to living out less than my best self, a facsimile of the woman God wants me to be.  Henri Nouwen, in The Return of the Prodigal Son, says it beautifully:

“At issue here is the question, ‘To whom do I belong?  To God or to the world?’  Many of my daily preoccupations suggest that I belong more to the world than to God.  A little criticism makes me angry, a little rejection makes me depressed.  A little praise raises my spirits, and a little success excites me.  It takes very little to raise me up or thrust me down…All the time and energy I spend in keeping some kind of balance and preventing myself from being tipped over and drowning shows that my life is mostly a struggle for survival:  not a holy struggle, but an anxious struggle resulting from the mistaken idea that it is the world that defines me.”

I know I am most at risk of engaging the anxious struggle if there’s something I want that I doubt God wants for me, or don’t trust Him to provide (How about a solid, Christian boyfriend?).  Or maybe he does want it for me, but not right now, which means more waiting.  And when I lose touch with His presence I am seduced more and more easily by thoughts that I should be in control of my life and can be trusted to take care of myself.

I have been distant from God lately, consciously distant.  But in all honesty, I can tell that the experience of writing today has brought God’s gentle call of my name, asking me to return and choose to trust Him.  My prayer for myself and for all of you is that we respond daily to His call to intimacy with Him, and that in doing so we experience the fullness of life He promises us.



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26 Responses to Returning to Jesus

  1. mariechan1 says:

    this post is really beautifully written… but honestly i think a lot of this stems largely from being way too superficial. i believe there are plenty – PLENTY of amazing Godly men around you, but we just always want this idealized idea of what that looks like. Perhaps take a better look at those that are not as attractive but have amazingly good character. =)

    • Lyn says:

      At my Church, the men in their 30’s (my age group) are currently married. I don’t really fancy myself as a ‘cougar’ so the 20’s are out and 40’s are . . . still married or really, really hurt by divorce (and have kids). 50 plus, well some are grandfathers!

      It is hard to find these men, the few Christian men I know of that are my age (late 30’s) and available seem content to stay at home playing video games and go to work at minimum wage jobs. They appear to be happy watching games with the guys, hanging out and not looking for change any time soon. You can’t have a family with a oversize boy that shaves. So, this isn’t about being blind, it’s about seeing the reality all too well.

  2. Bonnie says:

    Wow. I just randomly found this blog, and have been blessed already! Have been reading post after post, down the page! 😀 Thank you so much for your honesty Kirsten. This has given me a lot of food for thought! I am at a real soul-searching stage in my life, and it is encouraging to know that I am not the only one struggling with singleness and a relationship with Christ… sometimes I feel like I’m the only one – but at the same time I know that’s not true – I just feel very alone.

  3. Riss says:

    It’s almost as if you’ve been listening to my private thoughts!!! I have been in an anxious struggle for a while now. I’ve doubted that God wants to provide what I desire most (husband &children). I’ve doubted He even wants me to be married. Many tears have been shed while struggling with the idea of “WAITING” any longer than the 10 years I’ve already waited. “Stop worrying,” was what I heard the Lord speak to me after a sleepless night steeped in having an unsettled mind, and at times, I still struggle with surrendering over to the place of complete TRUST.

  4. Abena says:

    Omg! I had to comment. This is exactly what I have been experiencing and today I responded to Gods call to come to Him. The reasons you described are my reasons also. I want something and don’t think He will give it to me, especially in the area of relationships. Then I go off thinking I can run my own life. Then I am in the world and letting it define me, my behavior, thoughts, etc. So tiring. But thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Rose says:

    Kirsten, thank you.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Dear Kirsten, thanks so much for your transparency. I have experienced a bot of a desert myself of late and am so grateful for God’s gentle nudgings back and that in your taking the time to encourage us, you’re finding a way as well. Bless your day.

    • Kirsten says:

      Hi Jennifer…it’s so wonderful that God is gentle, isn’t it? He always calls us back, and never with condemnation. So thankful!

  7. Rebekah says:

    Thanks, Kirsten! I find myself trapped within the cycle of praying about singleness and trying to have a receptive heart, having ‘nothing’ happen, and then getting tired of that vulnerable place of wanting what I don’t receive and wishing I could simply stop wanting it. I superficially ‘stop wanting it’ by distancing myself from my emotions and from the Lord about it. Yikes! I wonder to what extent that most people have some issue in their life that ignites this deep struggle. Oh, that the work God wants to do in us through the process would truly take hold and that He would be glorified in it!

    • Kirsten says:

      Rebekah…thanks for sharing. I think you hit the nail on the head in your last sentence – God wants to do good work in us through this struggle, and ultimately be glorified. I know it’s so hard to hold onto that in the midst of the muck. I do think lots of people share in this struggle alongside us…I think we can take comfort in that as we are in our waiting.


  8. Lyn says:

    I too struggle with feeling distance from Jesus. Speaking from my own experience, I believe it has something to do with anger. Deep down, I have been very angry with God at times for not providing something that seems to be so easy for many others. Especially as the years march on.

    What this boils down to is that we as Christians are in the midst of a spiritual battle. Getting angry at God and distancing ourselves causes us to become casualties in this war. This is much larger than just protracted singleness, although that seems to be a more commonly used device of the Deceiver in these times. As morals are decaying, families falling apart, belief in God is dying and viewed as ‘advancement’ by our culture. This is war.

    It has occurred to me in my calmer moments with the Lord that perhaps He is protecting some of us single Christian ladies from even worse anguish. There are some real wolves out there. Yes, there are good Christian men, but many appear to have lost their way in their own spiritual struggles. Like Connally pointed out, this is a God sized problem. The conflict lies in letting Him have control.

    • Kirsten says:

      Lyn, thank you. Yes, if only we could see the larger picture, where we fit in it, and what God is either preparing us for and/or protecting us from. It helps me to remember that this is not the whole story…that we have eternity with Jesus waiting for us regardless of what we have or don’t have in this life. The hard part is remembering that! And of course choosing to trust that He is good and wants my/our best.


    • Abena says:

      Thank for sharing Lyn, you offered a perspective at the end that I never thought of before, about being saved from anguish and how this is a God size problem. I too struggle with deep disappointment and anger at God that I don’t really talk about. I struggle with trusting and letting go of myself and who I think I am. I would be too vulnerable. But all in all, He has remained faithful to me. I pray that His word will continue to change me.

  9. Kathy S says:

    Thanks for this today. Just what I needed to hear.

  10. Jill says:

    I’ve been going through this and this particularly reasonates: “I know I am most at risk of engaging the anxious struggle if there’s something I want that I doubt God wants for me, or don’t trust Him to provide (How about a solid, Christian boyfriend?). Or maybe he does want it for me, but not right now, which means more waiting.”

    Good to know I’m not the only one.

  11. Miss R. says:

    thank you 🙂

  12. andrea csia says:

    Thank you so much for being authentic and transparent! Beautiful qualities indeed.The Nouwen quote is so deep and rich.

  13. Natalien Gracia says:

    Thank you so much for that. I really needed to read this. This is what I’ve been going through lately.

    • Kirsten says:

      Hi Natalien…thanks for sharing and I’m so glad my post connected with you. Remember that He’s always calling your name.

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