axopia asked a question:
Let me start by saying that you’re an amazing human being. You’re so graceful and friendly and warm, sometimes I can’t believe you’re real! I feel like you’ve been my friend forever even though we’ve never spoken, it’s unbelievable. Anyway, I’ve been a Christian for about two years, and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m doing something wrong. I feel like I’m too involved with my own life and I’m not focusing nearly enough on my faith. Do you have any advice on how I can become closer with God?
My dear friend, I truly did need your encouragement today. Thank you so much for your wonderful words, which I know I don’t deserve. Truly do appreciate you.
I believe that all of us at some point will feel like I’m not doing enough or I’m doing something wrong. It’s all a part of our faith-journey. It’s part of being human. And sometimes it only means that we’re being too hard on ourselves.
Of course, I think it’s great that we gut-check on certain things. I think it’s good to be open to rebuke, repentance, self-examination, and the hard work of honesty. But sometimes we set absurdly tight parameters on the “amount” of our faith. We tend to second-guess and spiral into a neurotic loop of navel-gazing, which is exactly where the devil would like us to stay. There’s a healthy way to examine your own heart: but it can’t start from “where I went wrong.”
Maybe nothing is wrong. Maybe no one told you that for certain seasons, you’ll simply feel dry and feel doubt and walk through a desert valley. That’s true in our passions, our relationships, our jobs, and most especially our faith. No matter how much I say “Read your Bible more” or how much you plug into new ministries and mission trips, you’ll enter these dry spells. The only thing to do is to keep doing what you’re doing: to keep walking. The other side of this is more depth, more richness, a more settled urgency that will burn steadily through stillness. Feeling far from God doesn’t ever mean He’s far from you. The amount of our faith doesn’t slide the scale on who He is or what He’s still doing in our lives.
I think your concern about faith versus “regular life” sounds like an unfair fight. It’s true that we sometimes compartmentalize our faith from the world outside. But if you’re working hard, gracious to people, trying your best, and owning up to your mistakes, then you’re still glorifying God in all you do.
Most churches are not very good at connecting the sacred and the secular — but mostly it’s because we’ve put these things at war, when really there isn’t a thick membrane between them. The church isn’t about making church-people, but becoming a place of grace-driven hope that’s extended into hopeless places. We don’t need to drop “Jesus” into every workplace conversation, but we can testify to His goodness by excelling at our craft and looking out for our co-workers. We can keep the door open for our classmates who have been burned by the other side of life. Faith is not one more thing to add to your schedule, but it’s a foundation from which our love and excellence will flow. Perhaps you’re doing better at this than you think.
Here are some things to try. Talk this out with your pastor or a mature friend. Tell another flesh-and-blood person what’s going on, face to face. Meet with them often and be as honest as possible. You can try a new opportunity in ministry, whether missions or leadership, but you can also slide back on a few things to rest. Go to a place of hurting people in need. Sit in the empty church building for a while and soak it in. Have a day for yourself. Celebrate your victories from the week, because God does. Encourage someone today, whether by text or coffee. Journal a little, unless you hate it. Ask to baby-sit for a family friend, for free. Grab a giant hamburger with someone you sort of know at church. Watch this sermon. Listen to the audio Bible. Sing really loud in your car or the shower. But mostly, keep whispering, “I know You love me Lord, and I love you too.” No matter how you might feel today, preach this truth over yourself, for it’s still true and still good.
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