I don’t know when the romance ended for me. Being saved at the very young age of 4, I don’t remember a time of what life was like without Jesus. I never had a honeymoon phase with Him like a person usually has that gets saved later in life. So, when the romance ended? I'm not sure.
I remember the honeymoon time in my marriage. I felt excited and as if life was just beginning. At first, it was fun and it felt like anything was possible. Then money challenges came, dividing up chore challenges came, and raising a family challenges came.
Life fell into service and busyness. Duty and obligation. Some of the romance was lost in the relationship both with my husband and with God and my heart screamed, “There’s gotta be more to life than this!”
At times I felt guilty for feeling that way. So I would work on gratitude and pouring myself into service at Church. That would help me find what I was missing, right? Nope. I still felt like something was missing in life. Life wasn’t supposed to be this hard. Maybe it is just wishful thinking I would tell myself. Glass half full optimism that is unrealistic. I mean, after all, we live in a sin-fallen world. “You can only expect so much on this side of heaven,” my experiences seemed to be saying.
But that never sat right with me. It seemed to be an excuse we tell ourselves to justify where we find ourselves. While our heart screams for adventure and love and joy we get depressed when we don’t find it...we lose heart. We push those feelings down so we don’t have to feel the pain of what we are missing, the emptiness of life.
I know most of you relate as you read this. I’ve talked to so many of you that feel the same. You want more...you feel there is supposed to be more...but it eludes you. It seems impossible.
Squashing our heart’s desire is not living. At least not a life worth living. And not a life that brings glory to God. For out of our heart is where all true love and compassion for others comes from. All meaningful work and inventions. All worship and connection. When we squash the desire in our heart so we can deal with the pain, we also damage or limit all these other things that originate from the heart as well and life becomes very superficial and meaningless.
Could it be that this desire we all feel for more is a God-given desire to get us there and not a selfish, unrealistic desire or ungrateful discontentment? Is it our heart wanting to hear our creator’s voice, to connect with Him and live in His love? It’s like something inside of us is feeling the magnetic pull towards God all the time. If we don’t understand what that pull is, we label it as discontentment, depression, or even an unlabeled general feeling that something wrong or is missing.
We go searching for ways to take care of this pull, this discontentment, and we lose our heart in other things: relationships, addictions, performance approval, extreme sports, etc. We end up even more restless, weary and feeling used. So we suppress our feelings for wanting more.
None of those things we try are wild enough to take care of our problem...they are not enough. The problem is we lost the romance with our creator. He’s a wild God who does big and unexpected things. That’s what our hearts are wanting. And that is what is missing. The feeling that something is missing should not lead us to depression or guilt over our discontentment, it should be a light bulb moment where we say, "I feel Jesus calling me, wooing me, romancing me."
After the honeymoon phase of being a Christian, we don’t cultivate our relationship to the point where we find meaning, creativity, and love through God. Our romance with God quickly turns to duty. Communion with God turns to activity. We don’t spend time with God thinking about deep questions. The result is our relationship is not deep. It's not intimate and romantic. We take Him for granted if we think of Him at all. Life becomes a series of problems to fix, principles to be mastered before we can finally have that elusive abundant life that Jesus said He came to give us.
But God is calling to us all the time trying to restore the romance. He whispers and invites and reaches out to us through laughter, creation, music, and touch. Each one an experience designed to awaken in us a yearning for Him. The more (in there’s gotta be more to life than this!) that we are all desiring is more romance with God. The romance is powerful enough to bring meaning, wholeness and a sense of truly being alive. He causes stress, worry and fear to lose their power.
This is one of the areas I help my coaching clients with...learning how to get the romance back. Finding yourself being pursued by your God puts a whole new perspective on your life that melts away the stress and fills you with joy. That feeling of wanting more turns from depression and discontentment to a motivation to connect.
Look for the romance all around you. Ask yourself, “How is God wooing me today?” You are being wildly pursued. You are highly valued. You are deeply loved. Knowing and experiencing this is the only way to long-term stress-busting results.