As Christians, it’s not uncommon to experience what we call “dry seasons of life.” These periods can last a few days, weeks, I’ve even gone months at a time begging God to experience His presence in my daily life.
I very easily could be wrong, but I don’t necessarily see each of these seasons of life as punishment. Yes, more than once, I’ve gone an extended period of time unable to experience Jesus or the Holy Spirit due to great sin. More than once, refusing to demonstrate repentance has led me down a very dark trail.
That being said, after spending some time going through a few old journals, I’ve decided the reason I have gone through this more than just a couple times was that God had something He wanted me to learn. There wasn’t necessarily something I was doing wrong in life. Things simply needed to be different. There was a lesson or message I needed to learn and had to be led to a very dark place in life in order to comprehend what was going on.
Within the previous few weeks, I’ve been making my way out of one of these dark seasons in life. I’m not going to get into details, but the previous sentence is putting the situation lightly. At some point, during the previous seven years, it’s become routine to go through journal entries of previous times when I’ve experienced the same thing. It’s one of the blessings of being a writer. I have everything on paper to go back and learn from.
I’ve noticed something the last few nights of reading through the past that may be able to help someone going through the same thing. Looking back, I don’t know if I’ve always done this on purpose or if it just happens, somehow. Still, it needs to be addressed.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are created to experience relationships, both with God and other people. When these relationships aren’t taking place, we’re simply not living as the people we were created to be. Our thoughts are no longer what God would have them be. We act and respond differently. Words are said we don’t mean and things happen we never intended. We’re just not being ourselves.
During these periods when God feels distant in my life, regardless if it’s because of something I’ve done wrong or a lesson I need to learn, I do all that I can to keep Jesus at a distance. Yes, I still have faith and trust in who He is and what He’s done. I still pray and open my Bible. Normally, I’ll still be going to church most weekends.
All that being said, I’m fully aware of the fact that life isn’t what I think it’s supposed to be at that moment. I want Jesus to see that I care and what’s going on is important. I just want Him to see it from across the room. I think somewhere in my mind I’m hoping He’ll see what is going on and know how I feel and do something out of pity without me having to get too close. I read something last night in my Bible that grabbed my attention. Let me explain.
Luke 17:11-13 NRSV:
“On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’”
Before we go any further, yes, I know why these ten people were keeping their distance. At the time, leprosy was very contagious. Just getting too close to someone could give them something they couldn’t get rid of. There wasn’t a known cure at the time, other than Jesus himself.
Because something was wrong with these people, they didn’t want to get too close to Jesus. The Bible tells us they kept their distance, but they were fully aware of their need for Him.
While we might not have something someone’s going to catch, I think we have the same thought process when going through these dark seasons in life. We know something is seriously wrong that only Jesus is going to fix. Still, we allow ourselves to keep God at a distance. We’re not ready to be all in for whatever needs to be done. We simply want Him to see us, and have pity. At least that’s what I have done in the past. There hasn’t been much action on my part.
Sharing with Others
Normally, when I write, I like to write about my experiences. What I’ve done, the lessons I’ve learned, and the transformation that has followed. After studying the journal entries that I’ve written through several of these dark periods in life, I’m guessing many of these times have gone on much longer than they needed to because I don’t handle things the way I should. Instead, I run or hide what’s going on.
The next time I get the feeling one of these seasons of life is on the horizon, I want to share with others whatever it is I’m going through. What are the situations and circumstances in my life? What changes are happening in my daily routine? How have I responded in the past and what’s been the outcome? What can I do to make sure these outcomes don’t happen again?
By doing this, I allow two things to happen. For starters, I’m now in a position to get feedback and receive advice from others. Have they gone through these same things in life? If so, what did they do that worked?
Secondly, because I’m willing to share what I’m struggling with, I let people know exactly how they can be praying for me. As I said earlier, we were created for relationships with both God and other people. A huge part of this is both praying for others and having them pray for us. Sharing life allows this to happen.
I’ve already mentioned that I journal everything. No, I can’t say I do this every day, but at least four or five times a week, regardless if things are good or bad. Not only do I write, but I also spend time reading what I’ve written in the past. For me, this is just part of growth and maturity.
By taking the time to reflect on the way I’ve handled these periods of time in the past, I tell myself exactly what I should or shouldn’t be doing now. I place myself in the perfect position to learn from the past instead of repeating it. At what point did my prayers get shorter instead of longer? When did I start going to mass once or twice a week instead of every morning? Most importantly, when did I start to give up on what was happening?
Getting as Close to Jesus as Possible
Maybe you’ve read this and you have no idea what I’m talking about. You’ve never experienced anything like I’m discussing, nor do you see it ever happening. Or, maybe you’re one of the few people who have read this and your mind races to periods of your own life while reading along.
You know exactly what I’m talking about when I mention distancing myself from God because you’ve been in that dark place yourself. I just wonder, will these seasons last as long next time if I do all that I can to get closer to Jesus instead of creating distance?
Instead of calling out as these ten lepers did, what would happen if I act like the woman who reached out as far as she could just to touch the fringe of His garment? How different would things go for us? Maybe, instead of reading old journal entries to see what it is I did wrong, I’ll be reading them to remember exactly what I did right.
Featured Image by Mario Álvarez