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I became a Christian the summer after I graduated high school. This new found freedom and love in the arms of Christ, while also being welcomed into an encouraging and empowering Christian community, was one of the sweetest times of my life.
I went to church every Sunday. College group every Sunday night. Accountability group every Tuesday. Small Group every Thursday. Plus, quiet time every single day. Throw in 2 retreats per year, leadership meetings every couple months, leadership retreats, and additional weekly service opportunities, and I was clocking some serious time with and in service to God.
That was 15 years ago, and my life is very different. I still go to church every Sunday. Unless my son is sick, or I’m still recovering from having twins, or you know, life happens.
I still go to small group one night per week. It’s a wonderful time to connect with other young families and reminisce about the time we used to spend with God. How each of us used to serve more, have more regular quiet time, feel so connected and in touch with our God.
I sit at our small group, next to my husband of 10 years, and think about how my relationship with him has evolved and changed. How we used to spend every single evening together when we were dating. We would each finish up work or school for the day and meet up for dinner or homework or a date and spend every moment together until we had to return to our respective homes and go to sleep.
It’s been 10 years. We still see each other every day after work, but we don’t have intense conversations every day. We don’t dig into our deepest thoughts or emotions. We don’t have grand sweeping romantic gestures every evening. But I love and know this man more and more everyday through the ordinary living of life. I know him and love him more through the shoulder to shoulder partnership, through the camaraderie of diaper changing and toddler tantrum survival. We are bound closer together through the dish cleaning and bill paying and general life doing because we are constantly and completely leaning and relying upon one another. And sometimes, like now, we sit in the same room, not speaking, doing different things, but still with a thread of love and intimacy connecting us because of the companionship we shared all day.
Why is it I can accept this mature partnership with my husband, but idolize the romantic first “dates” with my Lord?
Why is it I daydream about years gone by when I served all the time and read the Bible all the time and sang worship music all the time? Why can’t I recognize the maturity of a faith that is based on everyday leaning on my Lord, laboring with Him shoulder to shoulder in the trenches of family life, and growing more intimately connected with Him in the way He sustains and supports me through the ordinary?
Why do I idolize the faith of my college years?
Perhaps, like romantic love, the rush of that intense, burning, initial attraction to God is addictive and intoxicating. Making it easy for us to long for it, and become bored, complacent and discontent in its absence.
There also seems to be a strange tension in accepting the new order of things and turning away from idolizing previous seasons of overflowing passion for my Lord. In setting aside the unbridled, all-or-nothing adventure of my college years with Jesus, there is the danger that I will settle into an apathetic faith, a “loveless marriage” that is a mere exchange of duties. I don’t want that for my marriage to my husband and I certainly don’t want it for my relationship with God.
But I’m tired of looking back at the faith of my 20s and trying to recapture it today. I’m so tired of feeling sad and nostalgic and worried that I don’t love God at all because things don’t look or feel today the way they did back then. I am so very tired of feeling like what we have now is nothing because it isn’t as flashy as what we once were. I’m sick and tired of trying to squeeze the habits of my youth into the life of young motherhood, trying to recapture and reignite something from days gone by.
I’m tired of mistaking a feeling for true intimacy.
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I can still be passionately connected to my God without all the bells and whistles of my college-age faith. I can stay connected and growing and remain in Him in the space of my current life, and it can be better and deeper and more fulfilling then the relationship we had 15 years ago. Because my walk with Him today is hard won.
Loving and leaning on God in the midst of motherhood and marriage and the daily battles of adult life is much harder than hanging out with him in my 20s when I had nothing but time on my hands.
But I’m going to give it a shot, guys. I’m going to try to stop idolizing the faith of my youth, and start appreciating the beauty of the relationship I can have with my Lord today. Not based on the booming bass of the worship band, or multitudes of ministry involvements, or reading stacks of Bible studies and Christian authors. But instead, centered on the simple beauty of worshipping him in my heart while playing with sidewalk chalk. The strengthened bond that grows from calling on Him for wisdom and peace in the middle of a toddler temper tantrum. The comfort and acceptance I know from whispering my inadequacies to Him at the end of a long day. And the ignition of that old spark that comes from sitting with Him and reading His word.
Marie Osborne is a wife, mama, and blogger who loves Jesus & large non-fat lattes. You can find Marie on her blog encouraging, challenging, and laughing… under a pile of diapers.