Religion Vs Relationship

religion

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

I have been thinking a lot about my friendships lately. I don’t have the best track record when it comes to creating and maintaining deep friendships. Growing up, most of my friends were boys. They were just easier to be friends with. We could go play basketball or football and that was hanging out. The requirements to stay friends was that I would play outside with them every now and then. We didn’t have to wear the same color on the same day or have the same doll to be friends or even sit together at lunch. It was easy and fun.

Then when hormones and boyfriends came into the picture, I had friends of both genders. The sad thing is that once I started dating, I made the relationship with my boyfriend top priority. He was a bit jealous and instead of seeing that as a red flag, I catered to his fears and dwindled down my friend list—especially my guy friends. I lost sight of the importance of the bond I had been developing with the females in my life too. I watered down the influence they had over my decisions and my path. I wound up marrying that guy right out of high school…and divorcing two years later. I believe wholeheartedly that if I had kept a proper balance with my other relationships, I would never have married him at all.

During the time when he and I were getting too serious for our age, I was still going to church and going through the motions of the shiny Christian lifestyle. I was at church three times a week, I prayed daily, I led a Bible Study at my school, and I read my Bible more than most. If Christianity was a laundry list of to-dos, I could have handed in a successfully checked-off sheet. The reality was, I was having sex with my boyfriend turned fiancé and thought that the only way to make that right and silence the guilt of my poor choice to marry him. (Thanks to a twisted interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:9.) Not many knew what was going on. The reason is that our relationships had been damaged. I kept people away because I was young, naive, and had it all figured out. The point that it all started to unravel was well before I crossed the line with him.

It all fell apart when I distanced myself from a relationship with God.

If Christianity was a religion than the above shouldn’t have happened. I was doing all the right things. Those things should have equated to better circumstances. Those things—disciplines of the faith—should have been guardrails to keep me on the straight and narrow. I loved God and I was doing the best to keep up with what I thought I needed to do. Yet, without relationship.

Without having real talks with God and the people that love him too, I was left to wrestle with this temptation on my own and I failed. I then let judgmental religious views of my actions dictate my next steps. If I had been in healthy relationships with God’s family, they could have lovingly helped me out of the cycle I was in. There was no one. That was mostly my doing.

That was all thirteen years ago. I lost him to an affair and I found the most real relationship in God that I have ever had in my entire life! I have an active, healthy relationship with God and the Holy Spirit. I am remarried to a godly man that is my helpmate and covering. Our dating relationship was drastically different because I had people in my life and I had learned that just doing the As, Bs, and Cs of Christianity isn’t enough…it isn’t even the most important part of being a Christian. First and foremost we need to decide to be in relationship with God. How do we do that? The best way to understand that is to look over the healthiest relationship in your life. Today, I have some pretty amazing friends. When I think about what makes our relationships so great, here is what I come up with:

  • I think about my friends often.
  • I make time with them a priority.
  • I give space in my life for their opinions.
  • I allow them to influence my life.

I do not operate 100% independent from them. If I did, the relationship would die off. I care about them. It stems from the heart, not the actions I display. You can have the best actions and fool people for a while, but if those actions don’t stem from the heart, it isn’t genuine and it cannot be sustained. Just as a good heart for the relationship, with no actions it will not work either.

If you are like I was, know that you can start anew. Spend time today with your journal and describe how you feel about God. Not how well you are doing on your Christian disciplines, but on the heart connection with the Father. If you are having trouble tapping into the feelings, put on some worship music and search your heart for a bit. Declare truths you know about the Father. Ask the Holy Spirit to revive your love for God, the Father, and the Word that allows you to get to know him better.

Lastly, know that God wants your heart above all. He craves connection with his kids. He longs to BE WITH YOU!

For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.

1 Samuel 16:7

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