Long distance relationships are hard. I should know: I’m currently in a long distance relationship with this six pound source of love and sass.
And on a serious note, I’m about to be in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend for three months. I’m not a huge fan of England right now.
But the hardest long distance relationship I’m currently in is the one I feel between myself and God. Let me be clear: I love the Lord, I’ve been a Christian for my whole life and I’m definitely not walking away from my faith. But lately I’ve been slacking on my Christian “duties.” I haven’t spent time with the Lord like I should, or like I usually want to. I still talk about God, think about God and worship Him in a corporate setting, but my own personal time with Him in my daily life has gone missing.
It started around finals time last semester. I told myself I would work on it over Christmas break, but, well…I didn’t. I just wasn’t up to it. And now, as I continue to put more and more time between myself and my last real personal encounter with the Lord, I can feel the distance between us growing. It’s my fault. He doesn’t want the distance to be there. I don’t want it to be either, but for some reason I put it there.
So how do I remove the distance? Do I jump back into my relationship with the Lord like nothing happened, or do I apologetically crawl back to Him with my head bowed to the ground? Do I find new resources that will make my previously stagnant quiet times (which is probably why I gave up on them) go deeper, or do I go straight to the Word?
I found comfort and inspiration in my friend, and former editor, Jessilyn’s post: It’s not up to me. What she’s going through is a little different from me, but I thought her revelation that a relationship with God isn’t a one way street can also apply to me. You see, I feel distant to God because I haven’t done anything lately that would make us close. But I’m not the only one is this relationship with the power to bring us closer. Instead of putting further distance between us because I feel guilty for not putting in the work, I could slow down, let go of the shame and start to recognize the sound of God knocking on the door of my heart. He loved me first, and instead of focusing on the work that it takes to maintain our relationship, I can just let Him love me.
I’m not saying that quiet times, reading scripture and sacrificing time to be with the Lord aren’t important (quite the opposite, actually), but when you’re doing those good works to fulfill your Christian duties, your desire for a relationship will run dry (and in my case, time spent with Him will become selfish and stagnant). An authentic relationship involves two people. It’s okay to relax and let ourselves experience how much God loves us. His love will prompt us to love Him back and desire to spend time with Him. His love will take us into a deeper relationship with Him. His love will transform us to become more like Him.
I don’t think we can do that on our own. We definitely can’t do it by our works.
So anyway, this is what I need to work on right now. I need to free myself from the idea that my works will bring me closer to God, and instead walk in the knowledge that He loves me, and I want to spend time with Him because of the love we share for each other. I also need to free myself from the guilt of this past month of silence, and just accept His love for me. His love is healing, gracious and understanding. Practical ways I want to do this are to use my 35 minute commute to my internship to just have a conversation with God – a two-way conversation. I also want to increase spiritual accountability in my life. And while I do want to work on reading more scripture and spending more time with the Lord, I want to do it from a new perspective.
Our relationship isn’t about duties or checklists. Our relationship is about love.