Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Are you there God? It's me, Julie.

Is it possible to feel close to God in the absence of a horribly tragic experience? I have not felt close to Him in a very long time and I take full responsibility. I haven’t spoken to Him or cried out to Him or (God forbid) even needed Him for quite some time. But what I’ve noticed is that the times I need Him and cry out to Him are the times I am most vulnerable, the times I am going through some sort of turmoil or suffering some sort of loss. I need Him desperately in those moments and in the “in-between” times, I am ambivalent. This troubles me and I wonder – can I feel that closeness with God that I long for when things are going ok for me or do I have to feel pain to come to Him on a daily basis? I guess pain develops in me that longing for the comfort of God’s healing touch, of intimate belonging, or reliance on His strength. I guess what I really want is to feel that longing without having to suffer great pain, without having a need so overwhelming I have no choice but to need and cry out to God.

Is it awful to say that I don’t need God right now? Will He send tragedy my way so that I will need Him? Is His heart breaking because I have barely acknowledged His existence lately? I’m not sure we can actually break God’s heart. I have a very good friend that I only speak to once in a blue moon. My heart does not break when I don’t hear from her for a while, but when she does call, I am more than elated to hear her voice. My personal belief is that this is how God views us. He loves us but He does not sit around in mourning when we don’t call. My unsettling struggle at the moment is that I don’t want to be in this situation any longer. I MISS GOD. I miss His friendship. I miss feeling connected to Him. I do believe we go through peaks and valleys in our “crawl” with the Lord, and thus breeds my curiosity – can I feel close to God in my ambivalence, when things are not spiraling out of control?

And now, I will cloud the issue further. Can God use me to confirm the faith of others despite my ambivalence? And at what cost? Can my words (despite the lack of feeling and faith behind them) be used to communicate God’s love even if I myself do not feel loved by God? Sometimes I feel as if I’m sacrificing my own relationship with God to ensure that others develop their relationships with Him. I speak faith very well, but it doesn’t seem to be active in my own life. I am preaching someone else’s experience and not my own. I believe that God loves me, but I have not felt changed by His love. I believe the events that were illustrated in The Passion of the Christ but I was not moved by them or brought to tears the way everyone around me was. My thought was, “Great movie, good fiction, very well done artistically.” God’s love and sacrifice seems so far removed, I cannot possibly allow it to stir in me a heartfelt response. I am deeply saddened by this and further frustrated when friends tell me they have seen a drastic change in me. How can I be changed if I don’t feel changed? I discussed this issue at length with some friends last night. Typically, the more I talk about my situation, the more clarity I have about what it is that makes me tick. I think it’s possible I discovered the underlying reason for my lack of passion in regards to my Heavenly Father. I have allowed the walls to crumble in numerous relationships with people I (thought I) loved and was betrayed time and time again. I would even go so far as to say that I chose intentionally NOT to sin in a particular area (hehe), despite my fears of abandonment, to honor God and yet, He still took from me something that I held very dear, something I believed was precious – at least at that time. I felt wronged by those relationships and even by God. Broken and hurt, I vowed somewhere along the line to never feel wronged again. I vowed to never feel ANYTHING remotely close to vulnerable, to steer clear of any sort of emotion that could potentially cause me pain. And now, it is nearly impossible to trust and believe in a loving God. Is there any greater loss than the potential loss of God’s love? It is so much safer to say that I believe in His furious love, but yet refuse to let it in far enough to move or change me. So I guess it isn’t so difficult to understand how a girl who claims to be a child of God can stand with Him and not be moved by Him. I’m just thankful He stands with me in the times I feel like running. But I’m still a bit dissatisfied. I’m a firm believer in exploring our past experiences to learn to recognize certain behaviors in our lives, but not to explain or excuse our actions as justifiable because of what we’ve been through. So now that I’ve shed some light on why I feel so ambivalent about God’s love, how do I put aside my fears and insecurities to allow His love to sink in?
Through the kind (and much needed) advice of a dear friend, I was gently reminded that maybe God needs to hear these thoughts that I’ve been having for so long. I was somewhat shaken when I realized that even though I’ve been feeling so distant from Him, it never once occurred to me to tell Him I feel distant, that I long to be brought near again, that I miss Him terribly. There is a line in a song by Lifehouse that has been reverberating in my mind endlessly these past few weeks. “How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?” Suddenly it dawned on me; the part I’ve been missing is standing with God. And I don’t mean fighting for Him, preaching His word or even vocalizing my faith. I mean standing still with Him, just being in His presence. Maybe a lengthy prayer isn’t necessary. Maybe a song of worship is too much. Maybe, just maybe, all that is needed is to remember He is there when I do feel needy.

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