Recently I’ve been feeling somewhat flat. I’ve been waking up with a vague sense of discontent, surreptitiously feeding it and then feeling sorry for myself and wondering why it’s still hanging around. I have, my friends, been coasting. Treading the water of life and persuading myself I’ll be floating in the same place a few weeks later.
Except that it doesn’t work quite like that. When it comes to my relationship with Jesus, (perhaps as with all relationships), I’m either growing to love him more or I’m moving away from Him. There’s no neutral: partly because we don’t live in a neutral environment, but also because my heart acts like an idol-seeking missile. Left to its own devices it quickly abandons the living water for diet coke instead.
The warning signs probably look different for all of us. Here’s a few of mine;
I see my time with God as a box that needs checking, a chore that I can tick off with the minimum possible effort. This is partly because I’m not working on any big projects at the moment:before Christmas, when I was working to a book deadline, I was painfully aware of my need for God’s inspiration and grace. But my heart’s exactly the same today as it was in December. I’m writing now. Yet somehow I figure I can manage this post and this day on my own. Er, no…
I start looking to other avenues to bolster my sense that things are not right. My heart’s made to worship. If it’s not worshipping Jesus it’s going somewhere else. Warning lights include:
…pottering around shops for an item of clothing I don’t need.
….stockpiling groceries, (I do this when stressed and feeling the need to look after myself)
…becoming more obsessive about cleaning or daily rituals: Just this morning I informed Glen that my ‘love language’ was hoovering and hanging up clothes. I was trying to ask him to hang up his coat nicely but ended up foaming and gesticulating like a gibbering idiot. Similarly, if my favourite chair isn’t free in a coffee shop I feel genuinely outraged.
…pimping my exterior: e.g; costing hair and eyelash extensions. Worrying about my (revolting) toes. Seeking extra reassurance about the quality of my cooking. My conversation. My sense of humour. Am I funny? How funny? Did you like the sandwich I made you? HOW MUCH?
…comparing myself and my life to that of other people. Not just any people: the top .000000001% of the (Western) population. Celebs who feature in the pages of Grazia or Vogue. Who’ve got all the things I deserve.
Underneath these things is a sense of entitlement allied to a desperate desire to be okay. I’m owed a better deal: those new trousers, that latte, more time with my husband…whatever it is that I want. Why am I owed this? Because I’m better and worse than other people. My chest isn’t big enough. My stomach hurts. I didn’t get enough sleep. I haven’t got a baby. I dropped my new phone. I’m going to die one day.
And as I feed myself these lies, Jesus becomes smaller, less attractive and well…kind of irrelevant. I still send up the odd prayer, but He doesn’t seem to be replying. At least, not in the way that I want. Not in the way I deserve.