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: match.com 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.