Updated: Mar 25, 2021
Are you in a season where you are feeling distant from God? I can relate.
We went around the circle to answer some question. I honestly don’t remember what it was. But my answer is indexed in my head as one of those moments when I “overshared.”
You know the kind, you overshare when you confess you haven’t showered in three days; when you speak your mind rather than the glossed up version and the truth plops itself in the center of the room like a misbehaved elephant.
Yes, we've probably all overshared about our romantic life, our politics and our bank account, our lack-luster parenting and more.
Sometimes the moment is met with supportive giggles and connection.
Sometimes it’s met with silence that reeks of judgement. It makes you feel distant. Suddenly you become the "other."
It is moments like these that keep lips pressed together when a vulnerable question is asked. It isn’t because words don’t burn in our throats, it’s because we don’t want to be the one who claps first, and winds up clapping alone. The one who steps on the dance floor expecting others to follow, only to be on a stage alone with awkward dance moves and stunned stares.
Feeling distant from God can start in feeling distant in our relationships. Especially ones that we would normally look to for encouragement.
Going first is risky and so is speaking the truth. So we hang back, stay quiet, settle for a pretend version of intimacy-- because it's safer, it's easier, it can become the norm.
Going first is risky and so is speaking the truth. So we hang back, stay quiet, settle for a pretend version of intimacy..
Our souls know the difference.
That day, the vulnerable truth that I reached in my chest and extended like an offering to the group was this:
“I’m feeling numb and distant
from God right now. My heart feels hardened
from a lot of unresolved hurt.”
In a Bible study setting, I guess that’s not the answer these ladies were primed for, especially from a pastor’s wife.
But, there it was.
To be fair, that’s a lot to unload on an unsuspecting group munching muffins and sipping their first cup of morning coffee.
This struggle that I had just given voice to might have been nurtured more in the warmth of an intimate friendship, in my journal, or in God’s presence. But in that moment, I believe I was extending a lifeline hoping someone would pull me back into the love and warmth I knew but didn't know how to get back to.
It stung even more when my admission was then shared and speculated about with others outside the group.
Maybe I just described a version of the heartache that is still etched in your own heart.
A way that your sacred words weren’t held but felt scattered and trampled upon by people who just didn’t know better.
When we feel unappreciated, unseen, misunderstood and taken for granted, we let our hearts drift to seek safety and shelter.
Sometimes we run to God, but when it's church people that have hurt us, sometimes we run as far from God, church, and “church people“ as we possibly can.
Sometimes we run to God, but when it’s church people that have hurt us, sometimes we run as far from God, church, and church people as we possibly can.
We may still go through the motions of saying the right things, showing up when we think we should, nodding and smiling, like we’re battery powered. But disconnected from authentic relationships, disconnected from intimacy with God, our pretend game eventually stops working.
You may be asking, "How can I stay focused on God's presence, especially when God feels distant?"
A message that God gave to the Israelites through the prophet Zechariah, is a message many of us need to hear today:
"Return to me, and I will return to you,
says the Lord of Heaven's armies"
God wants the kind of relationship with you that He is the one you run to with your heart hurts.
He doesn't just want our intellect,
God wants intimacy.
In my own life, God uses lonely seasons to guide me to trust and spend time with Him.
When we feel misunderstood, I believe the first place we can go is in His presence. We can run to God.
If you don't know what this looks like you can start by saying a small prayer.
Something like, "God I am hurting and lonely. Would you come close and hold my heart awhile?" Then sit in the quiet, trusting He will meet you in this vulnerable place, even if it just feels like a flicker of peace. Keep praying. Keep leaning in.
Rest on this promise that even when you feel distant from God, He draws close when we come to Him.
"Come close to God, and God
will come close to you" (James 4:8).
If you’re a journaling type, try writing letters to God.
It doesn't have to be the pleasant kind you write your Grandma, either. You can check out some of David's laments in Psalms to get a taste of how the man after God's heart interacted with God in a real way.
I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench
my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.
Umm...are you getting the picture? We can be real and raw with God.
You can jot down what you think He wants you to know too.
As God gives us peace and perspective we can see the people who have hurt us or the places we've felt misunderstood differently.
The woman who raised her eyebrows at you is prickly because she wasn't raised in a family where she experienced intimacy.
The people who saw you go first, were quiet and stared, but really thought you were awesome and brave.
You can take from my own experience with "oversharing," that I too have been in a places where I feel distant from God. It is a tension that I believe we all must face at some point in our spiritual walk. I haven't enjoyed His great intimacy and closeness without knowing what it was like to feel far away from God.While God desires to always be close, He uses the natural ebb and flow of our hearts to teach us about our desperate need for Him.
It starts with speaking the truth. To ourselves. To Him. Know God invites us to draw near. It's an open invitation. Knowing that just like a child says to their Dad, "I'm sorry I got mad and pushed you away. Can you give me a hug?" We too can whisper our hurts, our regrets, and longings to Him, knowing He is there. Waiting.
As He invites us into His heart, like a well-trained chiropractor He then adjusts our hearts to see others differently too.
Feeling distant from others is a symptom of feeling distant from God. As we draw closer to Him, He nudges us to draw closer to others, to take risks, to speak the truth even if it risks being hurt.
I can't wait to explore the second part of this topic next week, same place, same time:
Drift: Feeling Distant from Friends.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.