Monday, April 8, 2019

Distracted and Disconnected

I've spent the better part of a year distracted.  For the first time in the last seven years, I haven't felt as close to God.  I haven't felt far from him.  Just not close.  Not like I was.

I've allowed the circumstances of my life to get in the way.  My priorities shifted.  It happened so subtlety that it has taken me almost a year to recognize it.  I've allowed my pain to take the wheel, controlling my emotions, my body, my heart.  I have been worn and discouraged.  I have become utterly exhausted, fighting against a failing body I cannot control.  And the mental toll that has taken over the last year has been frustrating, to say the least. 

Pain is all I think about.  My life revolves around it.  This is the evening before I go in for what they call a "pain pump trial."  It will determine whether or not having pain pump implanted will be beneficial and allow me to live life again.

But focused on pain as I have been, it doesn't leave much room for God.  Kris and I were talking recently about how easy it is to just veg out and watch TV or play games.  It takes literally no effort or thought.  But the good stuff, the truly beneficial things take time and effort.  And when you are exhausted, the last thing you want to do is...DO.  You just want to BE.

We get this idea in our heads that it is WORK to draw close to God.  And it is work, in the sense that it requires that you be intentional.  You know the end result will be peace and fulfillment, and yet it always just seems so hard to spend time with God.  Maybe it's because we have these preconceived notions that spending time with God looks a certain way.  You know, reading your Bible for hours on end, praying nonstop, things that are really just not attainable.  We have these expectations for what it should look like and we always make it harder than just sitting there and being in God's presence.  Because even in resting in God, we feel like we have to DO something.

Kris is really good at this need to DO something.  To FIX things.  When I'm upset, he wants to do something.  When what I really need is for him to take me in his arms and tell me he's there and that it'll be okay.  I know this.  I know that is what I need.  So, why do I think that in order to rest in God I have to run myself ragged with different exercises proving that I am capable of making God a priority?

When I first came back to God (7 years ago!), there was something so special and intimate about just sitting and listening to songs that spoke words of hope and life, songs that reminded me that I was very broken, and very loved by God.  And somehow, as the years have come and gone, I've gone back to this legalistic view of what spending time with God is.  It isn't about reading the Bible all the time, or praying nonstop.  Those things are great, of course.  I'm not saying we don't need to do those things.  But for me, those things aren't even on my radar when I'm not already resting, just allowing God to lavish his love and kindness on my heart.  For me, it's done through music.  If I can sit and veg on the latest episode of Sister Wives (don't judge me - or do - I don't care), why can't I just cue up an hour of songs that I KNOW speak to my heart and just rest?  Just listen to the words and BE.

Isn't that the crazy thing?  I KNOW what my heart needs.  And it's not even hard to do.  And yet, I feel this resistance.  A voice inside (likely from my enemy) says "but that's so much work.  It would be so much easier to just turn the TV on."  And I'm like, "yeah you're right, that is easier," and then three hours later it's time to go to bed, and I'm left still feeling disconnected.

Does anyone else find yourself in this endless cycle of knowing you need to spend time with God because it is literally the only thing that can soothe your soul, but then you get distracted by something else, something far less fulfilling, and you just focus on that?  And then you feel guilty because just like anything we use to cope with pain or just life, it is empty?  There is no hope in drugs or alcohol, sex or food.  There is, at best, momentary pleasure.  It never lasts.  There is no peace in those things.  Not really.  We like to think there is - but five minutes or an hour of distraction or numbing the pain is not the same as peace, is it?  No.  It's not.

So as Good Friday and Easter approaches, thankfully I find myself longing for that closeness with God again.  I can tell it has been missing from my life.  It was on Good Friday seven years ago that the Cross became real to me.  That I finally understood its purpose and the part Jesus wanted to play in my heart and life.  And I miss that feeling of being so completely broken and overwhelmed with gratitude for what God has given me, done for me, and forgiven me of.  I'm not going to make a vow or goal and say from now on this and would be empty.

I'm just simply going to try today to stay focused on what really matters.  And hopefully, I can wake up tomorrow and do it again.  While the song I am sharing today isn't really on topic, it is one that I have been hearing a lot lately that speaks to what I really want from my life.  I don't want people to look at me and think she was this or did that, or she loved her kids or her marriage was restored.  When people look at me, I just want them to see Jesus.  Because that's all that matters.

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