Just a couple of weeks ago I was talking through some things with God. We were having a sort of DTR, and he told me something that caught me off guard: “Jazmin, I need you to stop determining how I pursue you and let me relate with you on my terms.”
For most of my life I have been taught that you meet God in the Bible and in prayer, and while I would pray and ask for his leading, I came with certain expectations of how our time together should go.
So when I felt him prompting me to set aside my Bible and journal, and connect with him in new ways–read that chapter in a book, watch that thing on YouTube, paint a picture, stretch out on my yoga mat–I rebelled a little bit. That isn’t how I am supposed to meet with God.
His request to allow me to let him pursue me on his terms and in his way, though it confused me at first, also breathed freedom.
In this season of wrestling with God I found myself clinging tight to control. I was mad at him, but I wasn’t going to abandon the relationship.
Like Jesus’ disciples in John 6, I had nowhere else to go.
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”
Jesus was and is my answer and my anchor.
Though I felt like I was fighting to keep my head above water, I had hold of God and the last thing I wanted to do was find myself adrift at sea because I had let go of him.
So I clung tightly and tried to keep up with those disciplines that people assured me would help me stay anchored in the hard times.
But you know what I found? Those habits and routines I’d formed quickly became more of a burden in that season than a help.
Maybe that’s because I was doing it out of performance. I was trying to prove something to God in hopes that maybe he would prove himself again to me.
Maybe it was because my relationship with God was my hard season and he had broken my trust and I just didn’t know how to connect with him at a heart level anymore.
I think it was both, really–the trying and the hurting. Both of them made me hungry for something different and new and life-giving.
Why breaking familiar habits is a good thing
During that hard season, the last thing I wanted to do was read my Bible. The discipline I’ve spent years developing had become another thing on my unspoken list of expectations about what it means to be a good Christian.
I love the Bible, and I love reading it, but in this season of finding my way back to trusting God after so much wrestling I’ve needed a break from the familiar.
Which has kind of freaked me out a bit because I was afraid that if I let go of those familiar habits, I’d somehow lose God.
Or worse, that I would disappoint him.
There have been seasons I’ve walked through when those disciplines and habits have kept me grounded. All of life was swirling around me, but I knew every morning before I got ready for my day, I’d met God in my Bible and in the pages of my journal and it would all be okay.
But when your hard season is leaving your relationship with God strained–when you’re doubting him more than you’re trusting him and you’re questioning his love for you–setting aside the usual ways of connecting with him can help you find your way back to that place of trust.
As a task-oriented, rule following person, I tend to thrive in routines. I know what to expect and I can perform the duty with precision. It gives me a feeling of control when everything else is going bonkers. But that isn’t always a great thing when it comes to connecting with God.
This is a relationship after all, and God desires connection with us, not for us to be obedient robots or for us to control every encounter with him.
When you break the familiar routines you’re giving up control. You’re opening your hands wide to God and saying, “Lord, I don’t know how to connect with you today. Would you meet me on your terms?”
And suddenly you’ve offered up an invitation. You’ve opened your heart and your hands to God.
Sometimes we just need to get our habits and expectations out of the way so we can really be present.
Like any other relationship, we can embrace fluidity rather than settling only for the familiar.
5 ways to connect with God in hard seasons
Hard seasons can be a good time to press into God and allow your relationship with him to grow in new ways.
Need some ideas? Here are a few:
- Take a nature walk. Just get outdoors and ask God to make his presence known to you.
- Be still. Literally just sit there and do nothing, say nothing. Just be with God and let that be enough.
- Write God a letter. Pull out a sheet of paper or your journal and write to God. Tell him what’s up, how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking about this current season. Be honest. He can take it, and he wants it.
- Turn on some worship music. There are seasons where music is the only thing that helps me connect with God, so I turn up the volume on some Bethel or Kari Jobe and I just listen.
- Take the #10daydevochallenge. I created this challenge specifically for seasons when relating with God feels hard, stale, or too familiar. This challenge provides ten days of prompts and devotions to help you revive your relationship with God and connect with him in new or different ways.
Interested in learning more and taking the challenge? Just click the banner below.
However you choose to connect with God in those hard seasons, just keep showing up. Keep opening yourself up to him, sharing exactly what you’re feeling and thinking. Stay in conversation with him. Don’t try to move through this season alone.
Even if you blame him for where you are, or if you’re mad at him for how things happened, stay open.
Let go of control.
Invite him to meet with you on his terms and see what happens.
Related: Why Wrestling with God is a Good Thing
Live in his love!
3 thoughts on “How to Connect with God in Hard Seasons”
Being still is my #1 way to connect with God.
Blessings to you and yours!
a great post I totally relate. I started a new job and I was so afraid that because I took a break from blogging I would be forgotten. Then God reminded me that I didn’t start a blog to be well known. You can be with God in many different ways. I just need to follow his lead, not mine.
Great thoughts, Jazmin! I am going through a strange season in which I’ve stopped reading the Bible out of habit. For years, I’ve always read it at night. But now, I’m at a place with a lot more stress than usual and I think God is leading me in a different way. Maybe I was leading me before? I honestly can’t say. Like you mentioned, I like habits too. Routine. Regularity. Not too many surprises, please. But I’ve found a deeper sense of God’s presence all the time. I’ve been reminded of Brother Lawrence, the writer of Practicing God’s Presence, who found God present even when he was slinging pots and pans around in the monastery kitchen each day. And I don’t sense God’s displeasure that I’ve stopped reading the Word compulsively. But I still love it and I am seeing things I’ve not retained before from my habitual reading. God is alive and well!