Unintentional Abandonment of Spiritual Wellness
Wellness incorporates so many different aspects of life. Physical, mental, emotional, professional. It also includes spiritual wellness. Some people have spiritual beliefs or that of a "higher power" of some sort, while some people believe in God Himself. Having grown up as a Lutheran, I was always taught that God created the heavens and the earth and all things within it, including myself. I've always been taught that God was always with me, that I would never be alone. But, what happens when you unintentionally abandon God?
This week in church, the sermon was based on Psalm 77 and asked "Where did you (God) go?" The Psalmist was looking for God everywhere, but couldn't find him. (v1: I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.) He'd recall the times when he had God present in his life and how great it all was, but now, present time, God was seemingly no where. (v3: I remembered you, God, and I groaned; I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.) It seemed as though nothing would go right, no matter how hard he tried, and he was calling out to God asking him why. (v9: Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?)
Then, he thought back on all the times God was there for him. All the great things He had provided for him, all the wonderous things He did, and he praised Him. Even though he felt alone and abandoned, he praised God for all the things he did previously. (v13: Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?) He looked back and praised God for everything he did, and recognized them as acts from Him to help His people.
Despite growing up in a home where we believed in God, despite going to church nearly every Sunday and going to a Christian school from kindergarten through high school, I merely went through the motions of a Christian. I did what I was supposed to do. I sang the hymns, memorized my Bible passages, and did well in my religion classes. I didn't have that fire, that passion that some people have for God. Did I believe in God? Absolutely! Was there doubt? Plenty. Did that mean I'd abandon my faith, or what there was of it? Never.
In embarking on my own life changes over the last year, I realized how out of alignment my own spiritual wellness was. I saw how damaged my faith had become. I was still just going through the motions of attending church, sending my kids to a Christian school, saying their bedtime prayers with them. I still believed, but not with that intensity that I wanted. I knew I had to do something to change that. I was tired. I was worn and this song made me realize today just how worn I was at that time (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfkeoXqgiYc) All of the stressors in my life were piling on me and I didn't know what to do anymore. I'd pray, but looking back, I was merely saying words, asking for God to help me. Did I mean it? Yes, but I wasn't sure it would help. At that point in time, I just knew it wouldn't hurt.
God placed in my life during that time several different people that would lead me to today. One of them is a woman from church who literally radiates God's love everyday. We formed a small group Bible study with our spouses and a couple of other people from church, and it was the best thing that happened to my faith. We ended up taking a short break (that turned into a bit of a longer break) due to scheduling conflicts and such, and since then I've fallen away from doing my Bible readings on a regular basis. Because of that, I have again gotten to the space of missing God and feeling like the Psalmist--like I'm alone, abandoned, and needing something more. I think back on the time when I was in a stronger spiritual space, and remember how God provided for me in so many countless ways, just like the people all the way back to the beginning of time.
God didn't abandon me, just like He didn't abandon the Psalmist. He didn't leave me in the dark, He was right there with me all along. Jesus knows the darkness; He lived it, He conquered it, He knows it. I, however, abandoned God. I left Him there, in my darkness, while I went to wander on my own, thinking I didn't need Him anymore. Once I let that spiritual wellness slip, all of the old habits crept back in. I'd hear myself saying, "Maybe we can skip church just this week," or, "You just don't have time to read your Bible today." I'd argue more with my husband or kids, I'd become more easily angered again, and I could feel myself struggling with more anxiety over so many other issues in life. I was getting worn again. Living without God is exhausting.
Take some time today to look at your life and your spiritual wellness. If you don't believe in God, then I'm not here to try to convince you of anything. I'm here to say that spiritual wellness is an overlooked part of your overall health and a part that is so easy to dismiss. If you do believe in God but you're struggling, try getting back into prayer, daily meditations on God's word, connecting with a faithful friend. You're the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with, and I hope to be more Godly and have a stronger relationship like all the people he's given me recently so that I can pass that on to other people as well. That way, if I start to again unintentionally abandon God, they can help guide me back to where I should be.