Have come to a few conclusions that I think will help me in the future. I hope they can help you guys as well.
Going to church is not the same thing as speaking to Christ.
Having christian friends is not the same thing as speaking to Christ
Thinking about Christ is not the same thing as speaking to Christ
Reading scripture is not the same thing as speaking to Christ
Reading Christian books is not the same thing as speaking to Christ
Serving at church is not the same thing as speaking to Christ
Leading a spiritual group is not the same thing as speaking to Christ
Being a good person is not the same thing as speaking to Christ
Not sinning is not the same thing as speaking to Christ
Speaking to other people about Christ is not the same thing as speaking to Christ
These are the things that trick me into thinking that I have a relationship with God. I can do all of these quite perfectly without ever praying. I realized a few months ago that very few people I knew were actually praying. And it was not that they did not know how to pray, but rather, they thought they knew and just didn't bother. Most of the people I know are content to live within a christian structure, and don't much need Christ, or maybe they don't realize that they don't have him.
But then we get dejected, burnt out, heart broken, and we don't turn to Christ, because we aren't aware that we ever turned away. There are times that I have been completely unaware that I didn't have a relationship with him, because I had a relationship with books and thought and culture and other people. And then we think he can do nothing for us. So we continue to hurt.
we get arrogant, selfish, ambitious, self pitying and because we think we have a relationship with Christ we do not notice these things, or care, or assume that Christ would tell us, but we don't give him the chance. And we hurt people. A lot of them.
So in the church we see the inverse of the spiritual gifts: gossip, slander, envy, pride, bitterness, malice, foolishness, and distrust.
Because the fruits of the spirit; love; joy; peace; patience; kindness; goodness; faithfulness; gentleness and self control can only come from direct discipleship in daily communication from Christ. We cannot learn them from books or sermons or friends, not really. I don't think these things can be learned with the mind or heart- they have to be settled in the Spirit, this other entity within us that Christ gives.
Jesus calls the Spirit the counselor.
My (human) counselor leads me to dark places. It would be easier to choke everything back down. And this is the same with Christ, I think this is why it's so terrifying to pray. Jesus is not a small talker.
Oswald chambers says we don't pray, because then we must do the thing God says, or tell him it will not be done. I say we don't pray because parts of you always die in prayer, and the strongest instinct we have is self preservation. We want to change naturally, slowly, but prayer jump starts change, most often. It's hard to go before God and be rebuked, sometimes harder to know that nothing we do can separate us from his love. But his rebuke perfects us for our community and the church.
I like that in the past week Christ has kept my friends up at night for me. It's kind of like he's been the husband calling his wives friends in the middle of the night, trying to figure out where she is. I'm grateful that my friends are in a place spiritually where they are sensitive enough to the spirit to call me in the middle of the night. And I want to be that for them.
I have to remind myself that being brave enough to pray is the most important thing in the world. And I have to try as hard as possible to not trick myself into thinking I am pursuing God when really, I am only revolving comfortably in my family christian play pen. I owe it to myself to really trust God with my heart and life, and hear what he has to say about those things. I owe it to my community and friends to make sure my spiritual gifts are abounding.
I have decided today that I will write a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Remember those? Mine will be chick lit.
Turn to page 70 if you decide to go out with the hunky boy from the office!
Turn to page 92 if you want to wear the black mini!
No seriously, it would/will be freaking hilarious.
Also, if you want to get yourself wrecked, go to counseling.