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If you’ve been a Christian for a while and you no longer feel as close to God as you used to feel, someone has probably told you:
- God doesn’t move, so if you are more distant from God, guess who moved?
- In your walk with God, you’re either moving toward Him or away from Him.
Have you ever experienced something that stopped changing, but is still considered to be alive? To be alive is to change. When you stop changing, you’re dead.
Since God is everywhere, you can’t actually move away from Him. However, you can close your heart to Him. You can block Him out, tune Him out, or ignore Him. But He’s still there.
Moving away can be positive or negative depending on the context. Moving away is negative when you become closed to the relationship. But moving away can also be understood as becoming more self-defined. You test to see where the boundaries are between you and God. How much of life is your responsibility and how much is God’s? You stop forcing yourself from obligation and return to God knowing you have a clear choice and a willing heart.
Could what I’ve written also apply to horizontal relationships (with people other than God)?
We all need to breathe the air around us to stay alive. In with the good and out with the bad. Similarly, relationships need to breathe. Breathe-in equals spending time together. Breathe-out equals focusing away from the relationship and on other people, jobs, or hobbies. Marriage especially needs to breathe because one other person can’t meet all your needs.
For a better relationship (with God and others) learn how to breathe:
- Spend time away from a relationship to strengthen both yourself and the relationship. Bring something new from your time away to re-energize your relationship.
- If you find yourself feeling distant or closed to those you are expecting to be close to, be intentional about moving toward them.
If you’ve been in a heated argument, you feel the tension, and you’ve already tried some distance, what might be next is the hard work of moving towards again. Renegotiate how the relationship will be different and hopefully even better now.
Talk with your significant other about how much time you expect to spend together and how much time apart. Find the balancing point where you feel strong individually and as a couple.
And, in your relationship with God, balance the time being with God, sitting at His feet, and the time you are doing something for yourself, others, or even God.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.