As a mother, there’s a new level of faith trial that comes. When I took home our first born, I realized I was going to need God to a whole new degree in my life. Yet as the newborn stage wore on, I found it harder and harder to align myself with Him. After my second child, it was even harder to slow down and speak with God. After the twins were born? The thirty to forty minute devotional time I spent reading my Bible and praying daily was a distant dream. Partially because the lack of sleep made dreaming so hard, but most because the demands of life took all my time. During those times, I had to adapt. When I could find a moment alone, I would tell Jesus I love Him, and possibly get through 3 verses before nodding off to sleep.
The longer those days persisted the more miserable I became. I gave all of myself all the time which left me feeling unappreciated and unloved. I sought that love from my family, but they didn’t satisfy. Then I heard this verse on the radio. “I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.” (Revelation 2:3-4). It struck a chord, and I realized I had fallen out of love with Jesus.
Developing a relationship with Jesus is much like forming a romantic relationship. First, there’s the Crush Phase. You frequent the places you know your crush is likely to be, and when you speak to them, it’s awkward yet exhilarating. This means you’ll attend church, knowing Jesus’ presence is there. You’ll start to pray, but often it’s hard to know exactly what to say.
Next, there’s the Courtship Phase. This is when you’re regularly spending time with the one you like, and you’ve grown far more comfortable talking to them. Most exciting, you’re going on dates now. In our Christian walk, this stage is shown by always attending church and getting involved in a small group or volunteering there. You’re more comfortable praying and do so regularly. You’ve also gotten into the habit of “doing devotionals” which is much like going on dates with Jesus. You devote a select amount of time for the two of you to simply be together where you can read the Scripture to truly get to know Jesus.
Then, right after marriage, the Honeymoon Phase. This is when you and your spouse are always seen together. You talk all the time, and when you’re not talking to each other, you’re boasting about the other. Dates are very much still a part of your life. Even if you’re not going out to a fancy restaurant, you’ll take time each night to stare into your lover’s eyes. This sort of head over heels relationship can be seen in Christians too. This is when you’re most comfortable leading others to have a deeper relationship with Christ. You’re in church, more than once a week. Praying is second nature, and every day you make sure to have devotional time for just you and Jesus.
After you’ve been married for a while, you hit this Disillusionment Phase. You realize that your perfect partner, well, isn’t as perfect as you thought- at least in marriage. Life gets hard and you feel like they’re not pulling their weight. Between work, children, and mundanity, communication becomes a chore. You know the person you live with, but most days love is a forced choice.
This can happen in our walk with Jesus. Perhaps, like me, you’ve realized your perception of God was skewed which led to feeling like He disappointed you. Or you just let the necessities of life distract you. You became weary from volunteering at church. You’ve read scripture, or at least all the interesting parts, and praying is talked about more often than done. Devotional time has slowly faded from the routine. We know Jesus is there with us, but we acknowledge Him far less than we should.
But that’s not the end. The final stage is Renewal. Frequently, couples will renew their vows. They’ve committed to each other and plan to see it through. Instead of falling in love, they choose to descend the trail of love hand in hand, taking heed of each other’s weaknesses. Thankfully, Jesus has no weakness that you need to be mindful of as you renew your relationship with Him.
Renewal begins when we decide to choose Jesus fresh each day. “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” (Psalm 5:3). For me, as I’m rolling out of bed, I pray and thank God for another day with my family and for the blessing around me. Everyday, I try to think of 5 new things to give Him thanks for.
If you haven’t been, get back into church. Find a small group, or better yet, start one. Intentionally choose to invest time into being with God’s people and people who desire to be God’s. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
If you haven’t already learned to do so, develop the skill of fasting and prayer to help you pursue Jesus. If you’ve stopped reading the Bible, do so again. I just finished reading through it last year, and as I reread it again there are different messages the Lord is bringing to mind. This is what it means in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
Prioritize devotional time. These are like our little dates with Jesus. We need time to be silent before Him to let the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts. Perhaps, like me, that means waking up 30 minutes or so before the kids. I give myself grace when it doesn’t happen. Sometimes, I realize I need to immediately refocus, so I’ll sneak into my bedroom and shut the door. It might be five minutes of prayer while toilet paper gets rolled over the house, but after breathing in Christ’s love, I can love those God has given me.
All marriages have their ups and downs. On our walk with Christ, there will be times we’re doing better than others. But like all relationships, the key to a healthy marriage is good communication and honesty. If you and God haven’t been close recently, go on the date He’s inviting you on and truly listen to Him. Always, He will reach out and embrace you, His bride.
This was a very inspiring devotional. Keep up the amazing work!
Amber, this was a very inspiring devotional. Keep up the good work!