Figuring out where you are and where you’re going
The weekend is over and now it’s time to head back into the halls of school where pressures weigh heavily on you. Your weekend was full of uplifting discussions about what God is doing in your life, glorious worship and a supportive community. But, now you’re on your own in a school that pulls you far away from the comfort and peace of God.
Midweek, you begin to question your faith. You go to church and youth group, but you don’t feel or act holy throughout the week. There’s other students in school wearing their Christian t-shirts and cross necklaces, standing firm in their beliefs. But, you feel overshadowed by questions and doubt.
You’re not alone, even one of Jesus’ most assured disciples denied Christ right before His death. The pressures of this world are hard to bare alone, so God wants to join you in your journey. But, when you question if you even have a relationship with Him, it’s hard to believe that He will be there when you need Him to lean on.
Many people believe in God and know about Jesus, but to have a relationship with the Lord, you must do more than just believe that He exists. You must trust HIM with your life and obey His leading. 1 John 2:3-6 says, “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey his commands. The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in Him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” Our obedience to His calling is evidence of our relationship with Christ. That doesn’t mean you need to be flawless in order to call yourself a Christian, but it does mean you need to know the Lord and how He desires to lead you in your life.
Don’t doubt the strength of your relationship with Christ, instead look for evidence that it does exist. Once you’ve concluded that you do trust Him and obey His word, you can start to discover where you’re relationship is headed. If you’re growing closer to the Lord the following will become present in your life:
- Act with integrity
- Speak the truth
- Respect others
- Honor your parents
- Have dignity for your body and heart
- Rely on God, not your own abilities
- Know that you are loved and worthy of that love
- Believe you’re beautiful
- Become slow to anger, abounding in love and quick to forgive
- Compassionate toward others, loving them as you do yourself
- Aim to be vulnerable and real with those you love
If you’re more consumed by the world around you, then the following will be evidence in your life that God is being pushed aside and you’re striving on your own strength rather than relying on Him:
- Pursue lustful and selfish ambitions of the world
- Crave approval from others
- Swayed by the desire to be liked, opening yourself easily to outside influences
- Attempt to control your life and the people in it
- Find your worth in rewards, winning and accomplishments rather than in God’s love
- Gossip and belittle others
- Hold on to pain and hurt
- Seek vengeance
- Avoid the truth
- Keep your inner world a secret, refusing to be honest with those around you
- Bind yourself by self-deprecations
Every Christian will have elements of the second list because no one is perfect, but as you grow in your relationship with God, you’ll see less of these attributes and more of God’s characteristics. These lists aren’t tests to conclude that you’re a thriving or failing Christian, instead they’re insight to help you see where you stand with God so you can determine where you want to go in your relationship with God.
If you’ve resolved that you want to deepen your relationship with God, then revel in the time you spend with Him. Continue to go to church and youth group, but expand your time with God beyond the walls of church. Bring God into your friendships, which may mean befriending other Christians, or it may mean asking what your current friends believe and why. Spend time with God by reading His word, praying to Him, opening your heart to hear His voice speaking to you. Engage with Him, like you would any other relationship you’re in.
If you’re tired of fighting the battle and want to give up your relationship with God, we understand. We’ve been there before. But, before you shut the door on God, go to a family member, close friend, youth leader, teacher or coach who’s relationship with God is strong and tell them about your struggles and your decision. You have a relationship with God and He wants to pursue you and fight for you. He isn’t something that you can turn on or off like a light switch. By speaking to another about your struggle, God may be able to speak to you through that person in remarkable ways.
Regardless of where you stand with God, He wants to grow closer to you. Give Him that opportunity. Seek Him. Envision where you want your faith to be in the future and ask Him how He wants to help you reach that place. He will challenge you, encourage you, strengthen you and guide you because just like you, God wants to see you succeed in faith and friendship with Him.