So…What about “Spiritual Distancing”?

Here’s a clear truth from the last few weeks: we’ve learned some new words and phrases. And one of the most repeated I’ve heard is “social distancing.” We introverts know all about that, but this usage doesn’t quite mean the same.

And so it has people talking-even wondering if it’s quite right. See this post from a Facebook friend.

In talking about this with a staff member today along with the choices churches are facing due to “gathering” restrictions, it hit me that we are dealing with another thing for many people; I’ll call it spiritual distancing. For some, this isn’t a new thing. They already keep their distance from spiritual people and conversations. So what about those who are not only being restricted socially but in some sense spiritually?

Multiple answers abound, thanks to the Internet. If you are hungry and resourceful enough, you can find spiritual food to keep you close and healthy rather than distant and wondering. Here are my top two suggestions:

  1. Podcasts…if you haven’t dipped your toe in this ocean, now would be a great time to get wet. Two suggestions: 1) Most well-known pastors/authors have podcasts. Search for them and subscribe. 2) My preference is to search for episode topics rather than follow the same person. For instance, you could search “prayer,” “faith,” “peace from God,” or “overcoming fear.” Search and find voices God can use to overcome spiritual distancing.
  2. Youversion…the best Bible app. I have to be honest. I haven’t tried any others. But there is so much to like about this one. One element that can tremendously impact spiritual distancing is the reading plans. There are loads of options. And maybe the best kept secret about the app is that you can invite friends to read the plan with you and offer conversation between all those reading the plan. That brings spiritual people closer to one another and hopefully closer to God.

My encouragement to you is this. Whatever some one or some thing may create to force distance between you and God, stand up. Resist. Draw close. Feed that hunger. Connect. Avoid spiritual distancing.

Vulnerability

One effort, and it is for me, to achieve better and deeper this year is to listen to more podcasts. I don’t tend to follow every episode of a podcast; therein lies my effort. Rather than just tune in for every episode dropped, I have to search for episodes that speak to what I’m looking to receive, areas of growth I need to pay attention to.

My friend Mark cohosts a podcast called The Next Man Up. His target audience is fathers. Since I’m not his target, I tend not to tune in to every episode. Reality is, though, most of the content is for men in general; so regardless of your stage of life as a man, you get something from each episode.

For example, I just listened to Episode #91. The subject is vulnerability, which men stink at. I’m not the worst at it, but I’m not the best either. But I know this, if a podcast episode has the name Brene Brown in the show notes, I’m probably going listen. I haven’t regretted doing so yet.

Guys, I’m not going to rehash the episode’s content. Odds are pretty high you need to get better in this area also. Click on the link. It’s a good use of thirty minutes today.

Redeeming Suffering

For those in my circles, they are probably about tired of my latest references to podcasts. It’s much like hearing from someone who’s back from a conference or a vacation. It’s better for you if you experience it yourself.

Sorry for those people, but here’s yet another reference. I heard this quote from Donald Miller talking about what makes a good hero and villain in a story plot. “A hero redeems his suffering while a villain becomes bitter about suffering and seeks vengeance.” The word that grabbed me was “redeemed.” The concept of redeeming suffering is a new one to me.

But think about it. That’s pretty much what heroes do. They make their suffering useful. Batman redeemed his suffering of losing his parents. From other movies, William Wallace (Braveheart) and Maximus Meridius (Gladiator) both redeemed their suffering of losing their wives. One of the most familiar biblical and historical heroes is David. What did he redeem? He redeemed his people from their longtime enemies, the Philistines. These four men made a choice. They chose to redeem their suffering.

Redeem means to make something that is bad or unpleasant better or more acceptable, to buy back something. Suffering is often the result of something bad or unpleasant. Suffering certainly is attached to loss. 

We suffer in our workplace when business slows. We suffer in our families when our parents age. We suffer in our sense of security when bombs explode. We suffer because we live in a broken world. And in our suffering we have a choice. Make the unpleasant better or become bitter, making ourselves unpleasant. Redeem what was lost or cause more loss through our lack of redemption. Be a hero or be a villain.

Truth is, we all know what the right choice is. Truth is, being a villain is easier. Being heroic is hard. Ask Jesus. By the way, when you ask Him, stop to thank Him for your redemption that He gave you through His suffering.