Focus: The importance of faith relationships
Hebrews 10:22-25 (NIV) …let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
As you move forward in recovery, an area that might need work is your willingness or interest in developing deeper relationships with other believers. Going through times of failure and weakness can cause you to feel insecure. While you might be lonely—it also isn’t that easy to make new friends.
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It’s possible that somewhere in your background you felt judged because of your choices or behavior. That ‘judgment’—which also felt like rejection—made you back away from faith relationships. The thought of voluntarily placing yourself in a position that could lead to more rejection than you’ve already been through may not be very comfortable or appealing.
In depression and dependency, the enemy of your soul wants you to believe that being around ‘those people’ could be bad for you. He will do his best to plant seeds of doubt in your mind about anything that might result in you moving closer to God. Don’t forget—the devil, who is referred to in scripture as ‘the thief’, comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He does his best work—which is destruction—when he is able to get a person isolated and away from the faith community. He often accomplishes isolating you by getting you to think all Christians are hypocrites and that you can’t trust them.
God is love and life. Spending time in the presence of God and with His people will lead you to wholeness. Moving away from God and away from His people leads to alienation and devastation.
No doubt about it—if you seek to develop closer faith relationships, you will be exposed to people who are not perfect. Don’t be guilty of ‘writing off’ some who you may not have a natural attraction to. People are not always what they appear to be on first impression. Remember, you don’t find things in common with every person you meet—whether they claim to be a Christian, or not. Don’t base your opinion of Christianity on people you have met who offended you or rubbed you the wrong way. You may have heard it said before—Christians aren’t ‘perfect’, they’re just ‘forgiven’.
If you haven’t been attending a church, try looking for one that offers a Christian recovery program of some type. You can do an internet search in your community and find one. Churches sensitive to the widespread condition of depression and dependency will be able to meet your needs and make you feel less ‘out of place’. Even if you don’t feel like revealing your needs immediately—you will no doubt see people you can relate to in the crowd.
Most people don’t develop lasting faith friendships by just going to church. Let’s face it—when you’re in church, you’re the listener and somebody else is the speaker. The best way to go deeper is to check out what is offered in the way of Bible studies or ‘small groups’. These groups are usually very casual and are meant to give people a chance to have some fun and find friends. Most churches have a resource table or information desk, where you can find materials detailing what kind of ‘small groups’ they offer. If you’re not comfortable with the idea of being in a discussion oriented group, try looking for one that is centered around activities. A ‘small group’ might meet at the church, another public place, or even in someone’s home. The important thing is that the atmosphere will be ‘open’ and you will have the opportunity to get acquainted.
As much as you might resist the idea of opening up and bonding with other individuals—it’s really what God wants for you. As sensitive as you might be about your past—you could be surprised when you get into a group and start getting to know people. You will probably find your past isn’t any worse or all that different from a lot of people who have struggled in the same areas. Being part of a group will give you a sense of ‘belonging’ and offer you some positive role models who will be encouraging to you.
As you continue to move forward in your recovery, you will become more confident about God’s ability to use your successes and your failures. You will be able to see a bigger picture than you see right now and understand the purpose of the things you’ve been through. Healthy faith relationships are an important part of your future. It takes courage to make yourself vulnerable and move in that direction—but the results of living a life that agrees with God’s design offers lasting rewards.
Declaration: I will find new strength by seeking healthy faith relationships and becoming actively involved in a body of believers.
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All NEW STRENGTH posts are Copyright by Christina Cook Lee 2012. Please request permission to re-post or re-blog.