I haven’t written anything new on this blog for a V E R Y long time. And yes I have made a lot of excuses for why that is, mainly that “I haven’t had enough time.” Truth is, that is false. I have had time. I have typed countless things, but have just been too ashamed to share them knowing that anyone could see them and might judge me.
You see, I have always had this major fear of what other people would think of me if I shared my struggles. These days, we see everyone’s “highlight reel” through their social media accounts and the seemingly perfect life they are living… when really there’s so much more to someone than their “highlight reel.” The social norm is not to share that selfie of you right as you wake up, but that one of you after you get up, put makeup on, do your hair, and then get back in bed only to lay down and pretend like you just woke up. That’s not real. Social media has stripped the human being of sharing authentic thoughts and feelings all because of this desire to be accepted. I feel the same way when it comes to sharing my struggles.
What I’m sharing today is something I have feared saying out loud for a long time. Something I have feared because I am ashamed of myself. I am frustrated with myself and with the knowledge that I could have prevented this from happening in my prayer life.
Well, maybe not…
Pretty much all of my blog posts this year have revolved around two words lost and reignited. Those two words truly do describe my journey in faith this year better than anything else could. In the beginning of this year, my prayer life was slim to non-existent. Yes, the excuse of “not having enough time” kept popping up, and I veered away from focusing on the faith that had become so central to how I lived.
My prayer was slipping away, but then I went on the retreat that I wrote about in Reignited. Was my 180 day faith drought coming to an end? I was excited and got back into a habit of prayer. Each night I would read a bit of the Bible, do a reflection from Jesus Calling, say the “Prayer to the Holy Spirit,” and a few other things. This was progress, however, as we grow closer to Him, the evil one does lurk more closely as well. I had built up this habit only to begin to feel like it was something I had to do only to say that I had done it. So I stopped. I wasn’t being intentional. I literally stopped all the efforts I had previously to grow with Him. My prayer life went back to being slim to non-existent.
I have been on several retreats or weekends away since that time. Experiences I had previously enjoyed became different because I was seeing the world through a different lens. The faith journey that God had set forth for me was something that was going to be much harder than I ever imagined. I was finding myself easily frustrated with some of the choices and circumstances that He was placing in my path. I was disappointed in some of the people who had really helped me along in my walk of faith who seemed to not be present.
The reason why I felt like the places and people who had really helped me along my walk of faith were not helping was because it was different. I was at a different spot in prayer than I was the year before. I was a year older and had experienced and learned much more than the year before. Why did I just expect everything to be just the same as it was before, well that’s because it was perfect for me then. The experience I had two summers ago, was the experience I needed to have for that specific time. The experience I had this summer, was the experience I needed to have, but I did not fully understand that until now. I spent a lot of time this summer talking to people about how I could change my actions in prayer. And I truly did get a lot out of those conversations, but I didn’t let any of them truly change me. I let this fear of facing my Father as this broken daughter continue to build up in me.
I knew what I was doing wrong in not freely choosing to pursue Him in prayer because I had become so frustrated with what He was doing in my life. I was confused as to why He would change what I wanted. This fear of the unknown in what His plan was for me controlled me and still does now. I struggle in trusting things I don’t have a firm foundation or base in understanding. Which led to a deepening in my problem.
I want so bad to run to Him. But in the most simple of things, prayer, I find it so hard to get the words out and don’t chase pursuing a change in spite of my desire to do so. I was afraid. I have let myself fall into this trap and have not chosen prayer over my fear of the unknown. In choosing to let this happen, I have let go of this relationship I had before.
Someone told me recently that prayer is our relationship with Jesus, so if I’m not making prayer a priority, I simply don’t have a relationship with Jesus. Honestly, I fear those words. I have never taken my faith and prayer life into my own hands before. I am no longer a little kid where everything seems to make sense and my innocence controls what I believe. Now it’s not as easy for me to follow someone as it was for me to do then, so my growth looks different than it did.
Maybe now my path of growth looks like a dry season of 8 months to understand that faith is not an easy journey. Only to see that hills and valleys are present and even though there are low points, there will be high ones too. What I do in my prayer life is simply up to me. Who I am and what I am doing might look very different right now, had I kept up with my prayer after that retreat. Many things might have changed, but the truth is they didn’t because I chose something else for myself.
In my choice to let go of prayer out of fear, confusion, and frustration He chose to show me His choices for me over time. It would be too easy if everything went the way I wanted… I mean it’s called a journey for a reason. In this season of dryness, I have been tested as to whether or not I will choose to run to Him. He waits with His arms open to me, but will not force His way into my life. With the countless times I have opened my heart to Him recently, I can now see how He was working. He didn’t want my fear to overcome who I was becoming before Him, but He wants to meet me where I am and I need to trust that.
Through this emotional journey, I have learned that it’s okay to feel lost in your faith. In fact, it’s completely normal too. We won’t always feel that Jesus high, but that is very important. We must learn to take our faith into our own hands and call upon Him to help guide us even when times get hard. If you are struggling with this too, know you are not alone. It’s not going to be something to just pick back up because it will take time, but maybe start small. Advent is the perfect time to choose something different to do each day as an intentional act to grow closer to Him.
Let’s walk on this path together just as Joseph led Mary to Bethlehem. Let’s share our desire to live into the person He has called us to be and take small steps to Him. May our preparation help us come alive with Him at Christmas and remind us that the hardships of the journey make the view at the end worth it all.