I find myself in a place in my faith where I feel I’m in between, where I feel as though I’m giving everything I have for God, but at the same time feel I’m far from him. All I ever want from my life is to know I lived the way God wanted me to, to know I made him proud, to know I wasn’t living a life that was for God but for the world in a way too. I feel in the middle, like everything I do to grow or be better in my relationship with God always brings me back to square one. In this time I’m trying to not base my view of God or his view of me on my feelings but it’s honestly kinda hard. My question is how can I overcome this self-condemnation and really sit in God’s love for me again. How can I grow in my relationship with him, without the constant fear of am I doing this because I love him, or out of worry that one day I will never be with him at all?
There is so much heart in this question! And I can’t tell you how often I have felt this way. Actually, if I’m being honest, I still feel this way A LOT! There are so many things in our lives that need to be pruned, to be cut away, that it can often feel like we’ve not made it very far in the process, but please hear me when I say this: Our Father is SO proud of you! The fact that you are seeking, that you are asking the questions, that you are taking intentional steps toward Him not only warms the Father’s heart, but it also places you in the hands of the Master Gardener who knows just what, where, and when to trim to get the best growth out of you! But keep in mind, the pruning process is rarely comfortable. It hurts to let go of things we want, things that we think we need, in order to follow His will for our lives. Too often, we find ourselves in the same situation as the children of Israel: we’re being fed manna from heaven in the presence of God and yet we long for Egypt and the comfortably familiar. It happens, and once we recognize that longing, then – with the help of the Spirit in us – we can discard it and take another step toward Him.
Watch out for condemnation, though; it’s one of the most effective tools in the enemy’s arsenal, and, even more dangerous than the weapon itself, is his ability to confuse condemnation with conviction and slowly drown us in our guilt. One of these leads to repentance and right relationship with God through the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ; the other leads to that depressing, overbearing, ungodly feeling of “I can never be good enough, so why even try?” One is a stop sign; the other is a course correction. One is an open wound; the other is only the hint of a scar. I lean on 2 Cor 7:10 for this: “For godly grief produces repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” When godly grief (conviction) comes, we repent and run on! When condemnation rears its ugly head, we know where it comes from and we step around it and run on!
We don’t ask questions like this without a sincere desire to follow the Father, and a sincere desire to follow Him is born from love. This almost guarantees that we are growing in our relationship with Him. We have to trust the process. The path isn’t always smooth, and when I feel like I’m lagging behind, when YHWH seems distant, I have to raise my hands, like a toddler tired of walking, and ask Him to lift me up, to remind me of WHO and WHOSE I am. It’s a strategy that has worked for me consistently over the years, and once I’ve spent some time resting in the Father’s lap, I’m ready to go again. Climb up in Papa’s lap and let him remind you that you are created in His image (Gen 1:27), and that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). Let him remind you that he knows the number of hairs on your head (Matt 10:30) and that nothing can separate you from the love that He has for you (Eph 2:8, Rom 5:1). Let him show you the love that He has for you in the plan that led from creation to cross, the narrow way that leads us back to Him.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
Praying with and for you!
I agree wholeheartedly with what Matt has said here. I just wanted share some strategies that have worked for me when it comes to struggles like this. In my opinion, our mind is where we tend to fight many of our battles with the adversary. Taking these thoughts captive can be a game changer.
Some practical things that I do in my life to help me take my thoughts captive is:
- I memorize scripture and when I find that I am focusing on negative thoughts, I recite those verses. The verses that Matt quoted above are two good ones to start with.
- I also spend time in prayer. Prayer is a great way to render those thoughts null and void. Each time they come to mind, I stop immediately and pray. I pray for the Father to show me the truth and to help me take the thoughts captive.
- Sometimes there are thoughts that I just can’t seem to take captive and so I use a different strategy. I list the thoughts and then I list the truth. This way when those thoughts come up, I can say, NO that is not the truth, this is.
I do want to reiterate something that Matt said, we don’t ask questions like these unless we have a sincere desire to follow the Father. I want to encourage you to remember that: someone who doesn’t have a sincere desire to follow the Father, won’t ask these questions.
Keep seeking and keep taking those thoughts captive.