“When we have uncovered our hidden hearts before him in honest prayer and confession, only then can we begin to look to him for that much-needed spiritual nourishment.”
Sometimes I get to a place in my relationship with God where I feel like I’m stuck. I’m not really moving closer to him, and, if anything, I’m starting to backslide and feel further from him, which puts me in a depressed state. I sit around wondering, “Why is this happening? Why am I slipping in my relationship with God when everything seems to be fine on the outside?” It’s only until I get so desperate that I take the time to dig into the dark shadows of my heart that I find my answer: I’m hiding things from God that need to be brought to light.
Okay, okay. Alright, you caught me. I’m guilty of doing this as we speak. I don’t know about you, but for me, there are certain sins that I come back to again and again. Some are more frequent, everyday sins like impatience, snapping at someone I shouldn’t, etc. But some of them are deep-set, rooted issues that have followed me around my entire life. Sins that—just when I think I’ve rid myself of them—sneak back into my heart and feel so familiar that I hardly notice.
The reality of these sorts of sins is that as painless and harmless as they seem, they are deadly to the one thing we should hold most dear: our relationship with Christ. Why? Because they make us callous. They harden our hearts to the truth: that the only thing who can bring us full satisfaction and comfort is not our sinful longings, but the Lord.
Overcoming our inner worldly desires is hard. It is so, so, so hard. As I have realized this personally this week, I feel utterly powerless and hopeless. Realizing that you’ve been feeding yourself poison is horrifying and embarrassing, not to mention despicable. But that shouldn’t stop us from hunting down the thin roots of sin working back into our lives, and also hunting down the subsequent shame.
For many years of my life I was paralyzed by this guilt and shame for sinful things I had done. These emotions grew to proportions to the point where I started giving into sin because I thought, “I’m already so messed up already; what’s one more sin added onto my long list of sins?” Even though my friends and family would tell me that I’m forgiven and that I wasn’t alone in my struggles, I couldn’t help believing the worst of myself. It took years before a completely unpartisan source sat me down and helped me really think through my sins, showing me that other people have dealt with the same issues and that I’m not a horrible person for the decisions I’ve made. What’s important is that I try my best to follow Christ with my whole heart. After all, we all stumble and are imperfect.
All this is to say that had I sat down with the Lord and really hashed through my turbulent emotions with him earlier, I may have been spared some of the debilitating aching and years of self-deprecation. It is with an overflowing heart of understanding that I say to you: it is so worth it to come into God’s presence. Whether or not you address your sin or truly repent, entering into a quiet space with God is a great beginning. Just by talking with God, or sitting silently with him, we are allowing him to massage our hearts, making them soft and plush and vulnerable, when they used to be hard and calloused and in pain. Slowly, very slowly, you’ll find yourself relaxing in the peace that he lovingly drapes over us, and eventually you may be nudged to peel open the dark cabinets of your heart.
Something beautiful that I have held very dear to my heart when I am in situations where I feel unforgiveable or far from the Lord, as I do now, is that until I feel ready to open up, God is patient and God loves me. He will wait, and he will continue blessing me and chasing after me despite where I feel I am in my relationship with him. Knowing this allows me to be more patient with myself and reminds me that we all have seasons where we are close and far from the Lord, and that I can only grow closer to him by faithfully doing my best to follow him, even if that means limping behind him.