Now it’s time for me to finish my story about falling back in love with God.
It’s a strange reality that we can feel like we’ve lost someone even when they haven’t left. Even though we’ve been spending time together. All these years I haven’t been able to let go of God. Our relationship, even when rocky, has always been there. But I realized that, while God might have still have had my mind, he hardly had a hold on my heart. That phone conversation with my Grandpa, along with the words of my friend and sister, all highlighted our distance.
When you’ve grown apart from someone sometimes it’s so hard to even know how to begin getting reacquainted. I felt at a loss. For months I’d been opening my Bible and reading some of it but never fully reconnecting.
I began by simply praying that God would help me to desire him again, to really know him again.
The day I discovered For King and Country’s song “Hold On to Me,” and listened to it late into the night, I realized that I had forgotten that God genuinely desires me too. That’s when I finally understood why we’d grown so far apart: I’d been selfish in my love.
I had been operating as if God was impassive, unaffected by my attention or inattention. So I was free to draw close to him when I felt like it and lock him out when I didn’t. I hadn’t thought about how damaging this selfishness could be. That, just as this kind of behavior has hurt many of my tangible relationships, it was hurting ours.
The quote from “Shall We Dance” kept coming to mind:
“We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”
Augustine says that God loves us all as only children. God makes it clear that he also loves us all as a lover. Though it’s easy to think, ‘What does one life mean to God?’ Though it seems so arrogant to think he cares for me so intimately, he’s made it so apparent, in the Bible and in my life, that he does. He’s made a promise to be the witness of my life. Even when there is no one else to notice, he will always notice.
Over the last month, I have returned to his prophets Hosea and Jeremiah. Throughout those books he is so adamant that he desires more than worship, more than even justice (though he hugely cares about justice). He desires the genuine love of his beloveds.
I remembered one of my friends telling me that, unlike some of my friends, he would not be okay with me not talking to him for months and months. Though he enjoys spending time with me around other people, he would be pained if we never got quality one-on-one time. I felt that God must feel similarly. As Martin Buber has made so clear, love involves encounter.
I felt that just talking to God in the shower most days wasn’t quite counting as “encounter”. Especially since, if I’m honest, most often I was really just talking to myself even if I was pretending I was talking to God. So for the first time (excluding failed attempts during lent), I’ve established a consistent routine reading his Word and seriously talking to him afterward (okay, consistent for me still means I miss a day here and there but…life happens and I make up for it).He’s teaching me not to be so selfish and greedy with my time and with myself but to share who I am with him and others.
What I’ve been comforted to discover is that the love I feel for him, that had seemed like a distant memory, is being revived. His presence is refreshing and I’m regaining my love for his Word.