As I write this, I’m clinging to God. God is my comfort and go-to, especially in moments of stress and anxiety.
Experiencing negative feelings honestly suck all around. But when you have God, it can be easier to find purpose in the pain.
Society will tell you that you can alleviate pain through material possessions, alcohol, relationships, or money. They may temporarily fill you up with a feeling of happiness or excitement, but feelings fluctuate. They rise and fall with the ever-changing circumstances of life.
Two years ago, I found myself trusting in the fleeting promises (i.e. alcohol will take away the pain) that the world offered rather than believing in God’s everlasting ones. I was engaging in toxic habits that were stunting my growth, fullest potential, and the life God had planned for me.
I always had the Lord in my life, but I didn’t follow his teachings. I adjusted them to my liking. Because of that, there was a clear disconnect between God and I.
I was the girl that would get angry with God because my prayers were never answered. God was doing his part by showing me grace when I would repent. But, I would break trust as I continued to live a life pleasing to the world’s standards instead of God’s.
You Get Out What You Put In
Let me break this down for you in the most basic way. God is our father, but he is also our friend. Would you agree that the foundation of a good friendship is trust and honesty?
Let’s say you scheduled a meet up with your friend. Yet you consistently cancel on her, time and time again. Your loving friend may forgive you the first time around, but if it continues would you not be surprised if your friend became distant?
My relationship with God was that example, in a nutshell. I knew deep down the sin I was committing was wrong, yet I continued to do it, which created distance between God and I. Instead of leaning on Him, I chose to lean on people or substances.
God will never EVER turn His back on you. But, like any good friendship, wouldn’t you want to put your best effort forward to show mutual love and care?
What I’ve come to realize that holds true for all relationships is this: What you put into the relationship is exactly what you’ll get out of it. When you seek the Lord and put your best effort forward to show love and care, you’ll be able to see His goodness at work in your life.
5 Ways to Grow Closer to God
Maybe you had an epiphany and realized that you need to get right with God. Or maybe you just know that something needs to change. If you recognize that the missing piece in your life is the Lord and desire to grow closer to Him, the good news is He is ready and waiting with open arms for you! To help you revitalize your relationship with God, I have 5 ways that helped me strengthen my relationship with Him.
I’m confident that incorporating these elements into your life will help you grow (as it did me) in faith, love, and obedience to the Lord.
Read the Bible
Reading the bible has strengthened my relationship with God like no other. Think of it like this…when you’re in the beginning stages of a relationship you want to know everything about that person, right? Well, when we get into the word of God we get the full picture of who God is. We get to witness His goodness and grace through the scripture.
When you seek God out through His word, it not only shows Him that you are seeking a relationship with Him, but it gives you the opportunity to hear Him. God has given me direction on numerous occasions after reading the word.
If you’ve already been reading the bible and are ready to take the next steps in your relationship with God then meditate on God’s word. Pick a verse and break it down. Look into the meaning behind the words. It doesn’t always happen, but most of the time I’ve had a clearer understanding of what God is trying to tell me. After you’ve had a moment to digest the meaning of the verse, spend some time mediating on it. Close your eyes and repeat the verse. Be still and let God come into your heart and mind.
Pray through Everything
Communicating with God through prayer is one of my favorite ways to connect with Him. You can go to the Lord in prayer whenever or wherever and he will be there to listen.
Instead of seeking people, alcohol, drugs, or food to mask feelings of discomfort, reach out to the Lord. Put your worries in His hands.
I can be a very impatient person. In the past I would pray, and when my feelings of anxiety were still there, I would seek comfort from this world. An important thing I’ve learned is that feelings are ALWAYS temporary. The feeling of stress or anxiety may feel overwhelming in the moment, but don’t let that prevent you from seeking the Lord. Lean into the discomfort and take a different approach. Those feelings you’re having may be uncomfortable, but they signify that you’re alive and breathing.
Earlier this morning I had an experience where I was consumed with anxiety. I prayed to God and still experienced anxious feelings, but as time went on, it faded away. God gave me the clarity, focus, and inspiration to write this post, which will hopefully help you.
The point? Don’t be ashamed to feel negative feelings. God wants you to come to Him not only in good times, but bad too.
Do you remember the story of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane? Jesus asked God to let the cup of suffering be taken away as His journey to the Cross awaited Him. Jesus didn’t hold back with God and chose to share exactly what He was feeling in the moment. With that said, EMBRACE your emotions and share them openly with the Lord.
Becoming a member of a church and attending a weekly service will help you mature in your walk with God. Even though you can grow closer to God through His word and prayer, it’s just as important to attend church regularly. Additionally, when you attend church you get the opportunity to worship the Lord through singing and studying the Bible.
Another positive element of attending church is that you are showing your obedience to God’s commandment and making time for Him. On top of that, you can gain wisdom from church leaders and learn practical ways to live a life that is pleasing to Lord. I’ve honestly received some of the best life advice from pastors that has helped me grow as a Christian and mature as an individual.
Get Rooted in Community
Whether you’re a new believer or seasoned Christian, its important to surround yourself with other believers. There is nothing like doing life with friends who share the same love and faith in the Lord. Not only will they be able to support and encourage you, but they can also hold you accountable.
One of the most important things I’ve learned is that the enemy wants us to hide our guilt and shame. I used to do this and instead of expressing my guilt to a friend about my actions, I would play it out in my mind and somehow be fooled by the enemy that my sin was too great and God wouldn’t want me. This kept me in sin for such a long time.
When I started getting vocal about my sin with other Christians, I finally began to realize that those feelings of guilt and shame are not from God.
Another benefit of community is making new friends! Most churches have weekly bible studies, classes, and volunteer opportunities, which are great ways to get plugged in.
Be Flexible and Open to God
This may be the most challenging but it is KEY. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve closed myself off to what God wanted for me and instead pursued my own desires. Even though I’ve made my way back to Lord, I always wonder how I could’ve avoided unnecessary pain if I would’ve remained obedient to Him.
Trust me when I say, I know how hard surrendering can be. If you’re an OCD perfectionist planning type of gal (like me), I feel you 100% sister. But I can tell you from my own experience, that when I finally surrendered control (i.e. giving up binge drinking, drugs, and toxic relationships) and decided to abide in God, the love, joy, grace, and abundance that he showed me was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
In the moment, we may not understand why a situation is unfolding as it is. Or maybe it does make complete and logical sense but we just don’t want to accept it. The one thing that you can be sure of is that the Lord will be there and provide you with what you need.
The prayer you want answered may not be immediate. You may experience more trials, but when you choose to obey the Lord you are demonstrating faith. Through your trials you will develop endurance and character. And when God blesses your life with what He believes is right for you, then you will know exactly why you went through the pain and struggle.
When we are at the end of our rope and have nothing left, we have the choice and opportunity to cling to the Lord and grow closer to Him. When plans don’t go how I imagined, this statement brings me comfort: you may not be ready for the magnitude of the blessing God has in store for you just yet.
In your time of waiting God could be working on your heart. Maybe if you were to receive what you wanted now you wouldn’t appreciate it as much or really know how to tend to it. There is always purpose behind the pain and in God’s plan for your life.