The winter here seems to be rather cold this year. But the coldest part about it isn’t the weather. No matter how cold the winter gets here, it will always be warmer than Wisconsin. So really, it’s never that cold. But yet there is a coldness in my heart and a bitter chill in my bones that I cannot shake, but rather is spreading and intensifying by the day. At the end of the day, my emotions crash, leaving me incapable of genuine empathy and simply going through the motions of what I know to do. It is an emptiness that I would never wish upon another.
I become discouraged too easily. Each time I talk with my closest friend, they go on and on about this incredible journey of faith that God has them on, and how much they are growing by the day, and while I am genuinely happy for them, it only makes my own emptiness more apparent. Here I sit in an actually worse spiritual spot than I was when I first met them. But here’s what they don’t tell you in bible college: spiritual distance is still distance in a relationship. It’s true that two cannot be unevenly yoked. It places an awkward strain on our friendship.
Normally it would be a strain for the friend on the higher ground to stand up, but for me it is more of a strain to not follow them. But every time I get up and try to follow Christ, I fall back down and I begin to feel paralyzed. I used to feel level with them. Now I feel like a burden, like they are now so far above me and I have fallen into their shadow. I know this is inaccurate thinking, but the strain is still there and I can still feel it.
On the one hand, it shows me more and more how much I need to pursue faith, love, and righteousness with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. On the other hand, it makes me feel so utterly incompetent after all the grace I’ve received that I actually want to pursue God less. As the picture become clearer (to me, though my friend), these eyes see fire and terror and I become discouraged because I know that only God can save me, yet I feel as though He is uninterested, as though I’ve reached my grace limit and He has said, “Nah, you’re done.” The more my friends pursue Jesus, the more saddened I become.
I used to believe that hell was reserved for the afterlife, but I am becoming increasingly convinced that we experience degrees of it here, in this lifetime, dependent upon where we are in relation to the cross of Christ. I say this because what I am feeling literally feels like hell–separation from Christ. And no matter how I long to return to Him, the distance grows colder and colder. If hell feels like being separate from God, then this is hell.