Life can be a journey with many twists and turns. At times, we may stray from our path and lose our connection with God. But the good news is that God is always waiting for us to return home. In this blog post, we will explore some practical steps to help you return to God.
Rediscovering Your Faith: How to Return Back to God
I’m sorry for the time their hurt hurt you. I know how difficult it can be to process this kind of pain.
This topic often comes up when I talk to the women in my mentorship program, Facebook support group, and in real life. We talk about how betrayal and pain can cause distance between God and us.
Some would say it’s because they feel shame, guilt and don’t feel good enough or worthy to be in God’s presence or read His word. They feel that the mistakes they made are too much for them to bear, so why should God have to as well. They are embarrassed and think, “How can God love me after all of this?”
Others would say it’s the betrayal and pain (caused by the world and other people – especially those of the church body) that caused the distance because how can a good God allow such pain to exist? They find themselves angry at God, upset, and confused. I talk with these women often about how pain exists and is real, but God isn’t out to get them. This is where we begin to talk about who God really is and not through the lens of our pain (or this world).
It’s why laying this foundation in my mentorship program was important. Everything we do is based on our perspective of how we view God and how we believe God views us. Our theology (study of the nature of God) develops and creates our intimacy with God. When we return to God we realize He has never left but it’s a renewing of who we thought He was.
Growing up in such a chaotic, manipulative, abusive home where hurting people lived, I created a version of love I thought was real and true. It was all I experienced and therefore, I didn’t know any different. I thought it was, “you do this for me and I will do this for you.” Love was an exchange based on behavior, and lacked any sense of belonging. (I carried these beliefs well into my 20’s, even after knowing Jesus.)
“Jess, you have to fight to survive. You have to do it. Take care of yourself. Because no one else will.” I would say to myself early in my teenage years.
After accepting Jesus at 22, you can imagine trying to encounter a love that wasn’t based on behavior or anything I had to do, how it was freely given, kind, and patient. All of which I knew nothing about. It. was. hard.
I knew returning to God from pain wasn’t going to be a quick fix, a book I could read or scripture I could memorize. It was going to take walking with Jesus every single day to follow His lead, as Jesus said. Whatever He saw His Father doing, He would do.
Since Jesus says to follow Him, I began to slowly, at quite a distance I might add, follow Him. I wanted and desired to be about the work of Jesus. However, as my head began to understand more of scripture, I realized my heart had a harder time reconciling the two: The goodness of God and the pain I felt.
This goes back to knowing God is good and believing He is good to us even when our flesh hates it. Galatians 5 talks about how our flesh and the Spirit war against each other.
There are things that happen in our lives where it will bring pain to our flesh, such as:
- The relationship that didn’t work out
- The friendship that ended unexpectedly
- The job that you thought you had
- The hard work you put in not to lose any weight
It’s so hard to see the goodness of God when it feels like so much loss.
However, this is where we can anchor ourselves (and our hope), that His goodness doesn’t change by what happens or doesn’t happen. His character, His will to want good for us, doesn’t change based on our behavior.
Why We Leave God and When We Return to God
Our behavior toward God may change, but He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. There is a lens that we get to choose to see from that involves us being anchored in the truth despite what we feel. Yet, we do not deny what we feel. We need an anchor point to keep us steady, so we can find our way back to God. (Read Hebrews 6:19.)
The pain and betrayal will want us to turn from God instead of return to God. We may be angry at the fact that the people still operate in the church body, and we believe they shouldn’t. Maybe the pain has caused us to hide in shame and turn from God because we decided we don’t deserve His love.
The story of Jonah is known for many things, including how Jonah ran away when God called him to preach the destruction of Nineveh, the big fish that swallowed him, how he was spit up onto dry land and finally obeyed, and how Jesus referred to him as a sign.
But the reason for Jonah’s wrestling with his faith is made clear in the final chapter of the book using a plant. Jonah didn’t wrestle with his faith because what God asked him to do was hard; Jonah wanted Nineveh to be destroyed. But God had mercy on him.
Jonah wrestled with his faith because he knew God was going to be gracious and compassionate to those he felt didn’t deserve it.
I think we can relate to Jonah on many levels with this, such as how God’s mercy is still on those who hurt us, which is why we must also be anchored in the fact that His mercy is on us because we still hurt others. We all have fallen short (and will continue to fall short). Knowing this doesn’t excuse anyone’s behavior. However, it allows us to process in a healthier way, abiding in the truth and not our pain.
Now I am sure you were hoping for a few steps on how to do this. (I go more in-depth on this topic in my mentorship program). When we return to God it’s important we recognize He never left us but we leave Him.
Back to Basics: Reconnecting with God in a World of Distractions
Life can be challenging, and it’s easy to lose sight of our faith in God when our pain blurs our vision. However, we can always go return to God and rediscover our relationship with Him.
Acknowledge your need for God.
The first step in returning back to God is to acknowledge your need for Him. Recognize that you have strayed from God’s path and that you need His guidance and support. This acknowledgement is the first step in opening your heart to God’s love and grace.
Confess your sins.
Confessing our sins is an important part of returning back to God. When we confess our sins, we acknowledge our wrongdoing and seek forgiveness. Confession is not about feeling guilty or ashamed, but about being honest with ourselves and God. Remember that “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Repent and turn away from sin.
Repentance is the act of turning away from sin and towards God. It involves a change of heart and a commitment to living a life that pleases God. Repentance is not a one-time event, but a continual process of growth and transformation. As we turn away from sin and return to God, we will experience His love and grace in our lives.
Spend time in prayer and meditation.
Prayer and meditation are powerful tools to help us connect with God. Take time each day to pray and meditate on God’s word. This will help you develop a deeper relationship with God and strengthen your faith. Remember that “the Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).
Surround yourself with godly influences.
We are greatly influenced by the people we surround ourselves with. Surrounding yourself with positive, uplifting people can help you stay on track and maintain your connection with God. Attend church, join a Bible study group, or connect with other Christians who can support and encourage you in your faith journey.
Returning back to God is a journey that requires courage, humility, and faith. By following these steps and seeking God’s guidance, you can find your way back home and experience the love, grace, and peace that come from being in His presence. Remember, “Return to me, and I will return to you” (Malachi 3:7).
Confess, Repent, and Return to God
For now, let’s start with these: Confession and repentance.
- Confessing to God where you are. Being honest with Him and yourself.
- Repenting and turning from your ways and turning back to God.
This requires action on our part. The pursuit of something good and healing. Everything in us (because our brains are lazy) will want to return to the old ways, but through abiding (action) we can slowly but surely find our way back into the arms of the Father as the prodigal son did. This is our “return to God” moment.
Friend, you are not too far gone from God. There is no sin that is not covered by the blood of Jesus. Anything else you hear is of the devil because he is the father of lies. There is no truth in Him. (Read John 8:44)
I’m praying today you decide to confess to God. He’s for you and not against you. (Read Romans 8:28-39)
Life can be unpredictable, and we can find ourselves straying away from our faith. However, it’s never too late to return to God and find your way back home.