An Abusive Relationship with God

You wake up daily in fear.
You go to sleep every night crushed by a weight of guilt and despair.
Does God really love you? Can he truly love someone like you?
Can he forgive your mistakes? Can he forget your past?
Can you ever please him? Can you even remember the last time you experienced peace in his presence?

If these statements were used to describe a married person, the individual would be described as living in an emotionally abusive relationship. Yet, this account aptly portrays the relationship some of us have with God –a relationship rooted in deep fear and unhappiness; one born from need; an association featuring an unworthy individual and a supreme being. No wonder people walk away from the terrible weight of it all.

Such a relationship brings to mind the lyrics of Broken Arrow by The Script:

“When you shoot across the sky like a broken arrow
It’s so hard to keep yourself on the straight and narrow
When you shoot across the sky like a broken arrow
You fall off course,
Yeah when you hit the ground
It’s hard to get to heaven when you’re born hell bound”

It’s difficult to enjoy a relationship when you consider yourself broken, defeated and unworthy.

Yesterday, I began my day by asking God why many seem unhappy in their relationship with him, and why his ideals don’t seem to translate into daily living. The response I got was that many of the things we classify as Christianity aren’t Christianity. I suspect that a lot of the things we do, were never asked of us in the first place.

One thing I am sure of, is that a feeling of unworthiness is antithetical to the premium God places on human life, especially those he’s forged a covenant with. In describing how he views Israel, a nation he penned a contract with, he says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3). He assures us today, “That neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening 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”. (Full context in Romans 8: 31-39).

Why then are so many Christians addicted to self-flagellation? Why are we depressed, when joy and peace are meant to be the linchpins of our faith?

God tells us in Philippians, “Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

He reminds us that the fruits of his Spirit are, “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness”. (Galatians 5:22).

Peter also utters a very instructive prayer in 2 Peter 1:2: “May grace (God’s favor) and peace (which is perfect well-being, all necessary good, all spiritual prosperity, and freedom from fears and agitating passions and moral conflicts) be multiplied to you in [the full, personal, precise, and correct] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord”

Our day-to-day interactions with God define our relationship with him. 

Imagine you’ve had conversations with a friend over many years. You’ve taken strolls with him and had robust debates on many issues. You’ve received his help on many occasions and he’s been there in times of trouble. If someday, someone came along to try to convince you that your friend thinks you are unworthy of a relationship with him, what would your initial reaction be? Disbelief! You would demand to speak to your friend one-on-one, to clarify things. You might even get upset with the person who suggested your friend could think badly of you.

That’s how your daily interactions with God impact your relationship with him.

But some may wonder, “how do I develop my interactions with God”?

I can share 3 things I’ve learned:

1. Quality trumps quantity: I’m a restless distracted soul. I find that 5 minutes of genuine face-time with God everyday, trumps an hour of distracted prayer.
2. Consistency matters: In college, I discovered that whenever I set aside a specific time slot during the week to meet with God, after a while he’d be there waiting for me. If you make out time for God consistently, he’ll show up.
3. God speaks through his word: Some of God’s deepest truths are found in the Bible and you can access them through personal study. Personal study also helps you to discern the truth, when you hear messages in church.

I sincerely hope that if you are in an abusive relationship with God, you will stop it and embrace a wholesome walk with him instead. That is my prayer for you.

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