Like Desert Plants

What do we do when we experience spiritual dryness? How do we overcome that block? The Christian life is often very literally a wandering in the wilderness.

Regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, Christians tend to go through periods when they feel that God is far away, or simply that God has become detached. It’s easy to forget that God’s nature is unchanging. But the Creator is never distant or detached. Whenever there is distance or detachment, it is always on our side.

In Twelve-Step spirituality, we have a term called “acting as if.” That means that when we don’t feel close to God, we carry on with our spiritual life as if we were. This sees us through the dry spells, which do eventually end.

God wants faithfulness from us. But never asks us to feel any particular way. It’s not a sin to feel distant from God or spiritually arid. Faithfulness means keeping on keeping on–no matter how we feel. It’s based on love, which is not a feeling, but a decision.

I’m going through a really arid period right now. There are a lot of changes taking place in my life very rapidly, and I’m overwhelmed by them. God understands this. We frequently fail to realize that God understands absolutely everything.

Many LGBTQI Christians go through dry spells because we get so little nourishment from the Christian establishment. We are especially prone to feeling that God is far away. We may even feel that He isn’t interested in us.

In the midst of my drought, I continue to pray three times a day. It doesn’t feel quite right, because my heart isn’t always in it. But I know that God hasn’t gone anywhere, and that the Creator appreciates my continuing faithfulness. God always hears my prayers.

Christians are cacti. We’re hardy desert plants. God made us to store up spiritual moisture for those long intervals when it seems that no nourishment is falling from the heavens. LGBTQI Christians are the hardiest of the hardy. Proof of this can be found in the fact that we keep the faith despite all the obstacles that are thrown in our way.

Through the arid times, we can indeed continue to pray. We can set aside regular times for prayer during the day. We can stick to these whether we feel like it or not–if we know that God hears us even when we don’t feel like praying. Our feelings tells us where we are–not where God is.

It’s a good idea to set aside time to read the Bible as well. Again, we can do this faithfully whether we always want to or not. I read one chapter a day, which isn’t hard. Even a few verses can be meaningful. We don’t need to impress anyone by reading through the whole Bible in a year.

It was a tremendous relief to me when I realized that God didn’t expect me to feel exuberantly spiritual every day. Some of the greatest saints have gone through dark times. They knew God was there for them, even when all they could do for God was simply show up and go through the motions.

How do we stay inspired when we are so often relegated to the margins of Christian society? Going to a Christian bookstore is like navigating a minefield. A Gospel concert may turn into an anti-gay crusade. Religious TV is peppered with anti-gay and anti-trans programming. Even Christian celebrities we like may go off on us at any moment.

It might be helpful to realize that the spiritual highs straight Christians get are often artificial. It’s easy for them to get pumped up about their faith. For us, it may be harder, but when we do experience those highs, they are more likely to be genuine.

It’s important during spiritually dry periods, that we do not isolate ourselves. We may feel dull and lifeless, but good Christian friends can help to pull us out of our funk. They are likely to be cacti, just as we are. At some point in the future, we can repay the favor by helping to revive their spirits when they sink low.

I prefer the company of LGBTQI Christians. With them, it’s not necessary to hold back in sharing information about myself. And I don’t need to brace myself for potential attacks. I’m an Episcopalian, so my church is quite welcoming, but when I socialize I still gravitate toward other sexual minorities.

When we carry on with our Christian walk even though we don’t feel like it, are we being phony? Not as long as we keep the faith. We know we can experience aridity even when our faith is solid. God knows that we’re trying, and is as present to us in our dry seasons as ever. Sooner or later we will revive, and we’ll realize that God has been there waiting for us all along.