I’ve felt spiritually vacant for awhile now. Or spiritually tired is a better way to say it, perhaps. I’ll sit, listening to friends have deep talks about how God is providing for them and all the ways they see him working in their lives and just think… “That’s cool. And I’m happy for you. But I can’t connect with that. I’m exhausted–and I’m really not sure how God is working in my life right now. I’m just thankful He helped me make it through today, actually.”
In college, I felt so consistently close to God. I spent lots of time reading–the Bible, and lots of other books about spiritual things. I spent lots of time praying. I lived with incredible friends who encouraged and challenged me. I felt like the Christian thing was going really well.
So many things have happened since then. I saw two very close friends walk away from faith my senior year of college. I still have questions about it. I left the security blanket of college and started working a (pretty demanding) full time job. I got married. I acquired all sorts of Grown Up Responsibilities. I love my life, really I do. “Real” life is urgent, compelling and beautiful. But sometimes it’s lonely. And most times it’s tiring.
Many days now I feel far away from God. And I often feel like that’s bad or wrong or my fault. Like if I just read more books or got to spend more time with my college friends or prayed more I could get back to how things used to be. But lately I’ve started thinking that maybe “how things used to be” isn’t such a worthy goal. Maybe this isn’t “my fault.” And maybe, just maybe… this seemingly far away place that I’m in isn’t a place to loathe and fear.
In college I felt largely sufficient, proud of my faith. But this season of dryness has destroyed my pride and sufficiency, leaving me with a desire to cling to Christ. In college I felt desperately sure. But this time of doubt is (slowly) adding depth and joy to my faith. In college I felt certain that new and exciting things were happening around me all the time. Here in the wilderness I’m having to cling to the hope that God is doing 10,000 things in and through and for me, even though I just know one of them.
In college I felt things all the time–good, glorious things. But here, after college, I’m learning that feelings are part of faith, but not the sole indicator. I’m learning to be thankful for feelings when they come, but to press on even in their absence. Kind of like in marriage. Kind of like at work. Kind of like in most of life.
In college, I thought my faith was oh so strong. But now I’m learning to be weak. I’m learning to be held and comforted by Christ. I’m learning to lean on promises. I’m learning to repeat often, “glory, glory, God is near to each one of us,” even when the opposite feels true.
So maybe this isn’t all bad. Maybe this isn’t my fault. Maybe, just maybe, this is growing up.
And maybe I’m the only one. But if I’m not, if you feel far, if you can’t connect when it seems that everyone around you has a blossoming spiritual life, if work or school or a new baby or a sick family member is occupying much of your time, if you feel forgotten… take heart. I’m right there with you. And maybe it’s not all bad. Maybe it’s not your fault. Maybe He’s doing 10,000 things in and for and through us. Maybe one day we’ll get to see three or four of them.
But here, in the meantime, in the wilderness… let’s stop trying to fix it and instead allow Christ to comfort us. Let’s stop feeling guilty for being weak and instead be grateful that He is strong. Let’s take joy in the fact that He is near–even when we feel far.
p.s. this book by lauren winner is a good read
for those feeling far off.