LAST WEEK we talked about how struggle and hurt can cause us to feel distant from God.
Is there any debris of hurt and doubt that has collected and cluttered the sacred space where you commune with God? Our prodigal God is waiting to welcome us with His lavish love.
I invited you to speak the truth to God in prayer. Nothing fancy, but honest--even raw.
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:
"Come close to God, and God will come close to you" (James 4:8).
THIS WEEK I want to look at what to do when we feel distant from friends, family,
and other important people in our lives. Let's dive in!
One side glance, one misunderstanding, or harsh word cements another layer to the wall we put up between ourselves and others. In this fortress of self protection, nothing gets in, nothing gets out.
Have you ever found yourself feeling distant from friends or those you are suppose to love or at least like?
I believe forgiveness starts with our own confession of our shortcomings, which leads us to see the other more clearly. Hurt can harden into unforgiveness which isn't just a heart problem, it's a vision problem. When we live with a plank in our own eye we will see splinters in everyone else's.
When hurt distorts our view, more talking, analyzing and criticizing won't make it better. We need God's love to help us out of this dark place.
There are times when we feel so hurt and disconnected that we need a pastor, a mentor, a trained therapist, or coach to help us.
As a teenager, my social anxiety had gotten so bad that I didn't have any friends at school. When my mom suggested a therapist, my face burned with shame. I'm so glad my wise mama booked an appointment, and deposited my resistant heart on that couch that day. For me it was the first tentative step back to God, and others.
Whether you need the counsel of another or not, your greatest Counselor, the Holy Spirit is available now.
Time with God in intimate relationship helps to untangle the knots our hearts are in.
God knows our wandering, our wounds, the ways we've been betrayed, misunderstood, unseen and unvalidated.
More, as my friend and fellow blogger Michelle Diercks reminds me, God keeps a record of our struggle. David tells us that God "keeps track of all [our] sorrows," that He has "collected all [our] tears in [His] bottle" (Psalm 56:2)
As if it's not enough that the God of the universe cares this deeply, He also has a plan to redeem every hurt. Our heartaches are so important to God, He doesn't want to let them go to waste.
The time you felt ignored, He wants you to pay attention to others.
The time you felt betrayed, He wants you to show unwavering loyalty.
The time you felt lied about, He wants you to speak the truth in love.
To insults, He wants kindness.
To mistrust, He wants loyalty.
To pretense, pandering and posturing, He wants humility, gentleness, and vulnerability.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and
hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for
those who persecute you...(Matthew 5:43-45)
This isn't a New Year's Resolution but a journey that takes your whole self along, initiated and fueled by relationship with God. When we decide the drifting, the numbing, the hiding and pretending is no longer an option, we can look to God to guide us into relationships in His upside down way.
For me, this isn't a one time thing, but returning to God again and again to soften my heart and renew my perspective toward others.
You can ask him to help you to see people through His loving eyes.
The person that is slow to forgive has faced a lifetime of betrayal and abuse.
The person criticizing you is aching under the burden of insecurity.
The person that seems like they don't care is battling depression, or worn out from caring for other people.
Through God's eyes we can stop making it about us for a second.
He gives us enough love, forgiveness, and belonging that we can shift from self-protection to self-sacrifice.
From this posture our hearts soften into relationship with God and others.
It's no longer about proving our worth, convincing others we're right, having the last word, winning the argument; it's about living loved by God, and living as God's love to the people that need it.
There are difficult people that we do our best to love and do the right thing with. Sometimes the right thing is gently setting up boundaries so that we don't repeat the same cycle of hurt.
We also need people that we let in. Jesus had 12 disciples he did life with, and then his closest friends: Peter, James, and John. We need people that we let get close, who smell our coffee breath, and see us ugly cry. These people teach us the painful dance of grace and forgiveness over and over again.
If you are missing those people you can ask God to show you the right people to share life with. Every time I pray for God to bring people in my life, He outdoes Himself.
Or maybe it's taking steps back to someone you have drifted from. There may be a name bubbling to the surface of your thoughts now.
We can trust that as we show up to engage in the beautiful mess of relationships, that God is at work in our hearts
Not only does God keep a record of our tears, He promises to one day wipe every tear from our eyes.
In this life, sometimes our hearts need to be watered with our tears for something new to grow.
(To hear how God collects our tears you can check out Michelle's Podcast: Peace in His Presence on Apple, Google and Spotify.)