Several of you have reached out to me and opened up, and it has been amazing. Unfortunately, we’ve all been struggling with the same question:
How do we get out of the valleys?
Before I address that I want to make one thing clear:
Don’t rush out of the valleys and deserts.
As I said the other week, those are the best and sometimes only places that God can grow and teach us. It’s there that we experience longing and see that he is the only one who can fulfill us. So don’t rush out.
On the other hand, if you know that God is ready to bring you out of that time, don’t hesitate to move. Only recently did God come and take my hand to lead me out. It wasn’t by my own doing, but here are four things that are helping me.
1. Keep going
In January I started teaching one of the Sunday school classes at my church, even though I still felt empty inside. My relationship with God felt bland and yet I stood in front of kids every week and told them to follow God even though I was struggling to do it myself. I thought about stepping down, but I didn’t.
You see, I don’t always feel God because God isn’t a feeling or experience. He’s someone that I have a relationship with.
My friends aren’t experiences. My family is not a feeling. So why should I treat God that way? I have days where I feel like I am one with my sister Taylor. There are other days that I feel slightly disconnected, but that doesn’t mean I leave our friendship in the dust because I lost a certain feeling for a time. The same is true with God. Don’t give up on him or church or serving just because you feel disconnected for a time. Keep serving and keep going.
2. Find a community
If you’re reading this you probably already know that you should seek out people to open up to, but go beyond that. Don’t just talk at people. Learn from them.
One of the most encouraging things for me is watching other people worship. Looking around a room full of people, realizing that we are there with a common purpose, gives me hope. When I feel distant from God, I can look at the person worshipping next to me and see God. I can see him when I watch people talking with one another after church. I see him shining through other people. It reminds me that he is real and not as distant as I like to think.
If other people are making it then so can you.
3. Be alone
This may sound hypocritical as I just said find community, but I am not talking about isolating yourself completely. I’m talking about getting alone with just you and God.
Go to a park, sit on a rooftop or close your door and sit on your bed. Just get by yourself. Once you’ve done that, take time to unload everything to God. Don’t get alone with God just to start babbling churchy prayers that you’ve rehearsed your entire life, though. Talk to him like you would talk to anyone else. Are you angry with him? Tell him. Can you not even sense him? Tell him. Are you apathetic to your relationship with him? Tell him. He already knows.
This time isn’t for you to inform God where you’re at. This time is for you to realize where you are at. Once you unload, listen. I can’t tell you what will happen because it’s different for everyone, but I can tell you that he will show up.
4. Remember the rivers
Last week I posted a song by Needtobreathe where they talked about being in the wasteland. Their album starts with that song but ends with them finding the river. It’s the same for you. Remember that you will come out of this stronger and closer to God.
I haven’t figured life out, and I never will. But I’m learning every day. I’m learning what works and what doesn’t. This isn’t a four-step program that will expedite you to the mountaintop. It takes time, and it takes work. This is just what I have learned and what has been helping me.
What about you? What brings you closer or back to God?