De-Romanticizing Your Faith

Footprints in wet sand of beachHave you ever fallen in love? When Jared & I started dating, we couldn’t get enough of being together. We ate together, watched TV together, went to church together. We loved being together. We were one of those couples that didn’t date long before we tied the knot. So, naturally, we had grand visions of all that our marriage would be. It would be beautiful. We could now be together ALL the time. We wouldn’t ever have to leave each other. But it took us about 5 minutes into marriage to move from we “get” to be together all the time to “when do we get a break from each other?”. (Sarcasm intended…it wasn’t 5 minutes…more like 10) It wasn’t that the romance was gone but the reality of marriage contrasted greatly from our vision. It didn’t take long to realize this marriage thing was going to be work. It wasn’t going to be all fun and games all the time. Marriage involves real life and real life is hard. I began to discover that the sweetness of marriage was not in the candlelight dinners or romantic vacations. The sweetness of marriage came in the everyday–in the sacrifice and struggle.

[Tweet “Marriage involves real life and real life is hard.”]

The same is true regarding our faith. Oftentimes, we approach our faith with a vision of all the glorious moments we will spend with God–the sweetness of worship and the dancing in fields. We hear preachers and teacher speak of the safety of God and moments of intimacy and we long for those same experiences for ourselves.  We join our lives with God, only to discover about 5 minutes into it that the relationship with Jesus isn’t about long walks on the beach.  Life with Jesus happens in real life.

And it isn’t just us it is hard for.  Do you think it was romantic as Jesus prayed in the Gethsemane sweating drops of blood?  Did Paul have warm fuzzies when he despaired for his life?  Paul wrote:

“We are under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.”–2 Corinthians 1:8-9

Becoming a follower of Jesus doesn’t exempt us from heartbreak, struggle or pain.  Our relationship with God happens in the middle of heartbreak, devastation and chaos.  The intimacy with God comes as we journey together through those moments–asking hard question.  Not feeling close to God and discovering the sweetness of faith comes in the mundane, the selfless love and gentle whispers of hope.

[Tweet “Life with Jesus happens in real life.”]

It is through difficult seasons, doubts and turmoil that long walks on the beach become more meaningful with the one you love.  It is true in your marriage and it is true with God.  Just because it gets hard doesn’t mean it’s not working.  Jean Fleming wrote in “Pursue the Intentional Life”,

“A romantic view of life in Christ is destructive, not to mention dishonoring to God.”

Realizing your faith is more than an all-the-time romantic adventure will prepare you to take it to the next level and discover a deeper love than you could have imagined.  You’ll appreciate God’s moments of grace that lift your eyes to see the bigger picture of how He is at work.  And trust, He is at work.

Question: Was there a time when you realized your real-life faith was different from what you thought you were signing up for?  What did you learn and how did you respond?

4 comments found

  1. Love this post. Thank you sharing. After my father took his life, I was shaken by the confusion and emotions I felt. Even though I knew with my head that God doesn’t owe me a perfect life, somewhere in my journey I had let a lie into my heart that because I belonged to him, it shouldn’t hurt as bad. I clung to verses like “He is close to the brokenhearted” and “considering trials pure joy”. There were days where I screamed at heaven in my pain but eventually, I learned to view my grief as a strange gift. The intimacy and the new understanding of my Heavenly Father was priceless. It has challenged me to dig my heels in even when everything doesn’t feel warm and fuzzy :).

  2. I have been thinking on this concept since years back I read a bit of history on American Christianity and the Pentecostal movement and while it’s draw was this highly emotional relationship with God, I was convicted how this was unhealthy. I’m not even pentecostal, but the attitude was the same. It was a philosophy of just He and I versus an inclusion of my children, my husband, or anyone else.

    Likewise, I also see a similar romanticism even of family. Instagram pictures everywhere, foggy-edged pictures of barefoot children, open windows in pristine homes while curtains waft in the breeze. We should be very careful not to make idols of our faith, our family, our hobbies. All these things can come into crisis in a moment and it does not need to be ethereal to be meaningful.

    1. Great point! I’m so passionate about pulling the curtain back on the distorted “images” of faith, family and real life. We’ve fought this with the whole “photo-shop” movement recognizing it isn’t real. Well, neither is neat and tidy faith. It’s messy and hard and sometimes not pretty or fun. But it’s real and it’s worth it.

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