2 Timothy 4:7 reads, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
To me, this is one of the most powerful verses in the bible. And a rather accurate metaphor as well. A relationship with the Lord has never been described as "easy." It is exactly what is described in that verse; a fight. A fight against the world, against society, against what would be considered "normal." Again I will say, the fight is not easy. There was no pretext that life immediately turns into this blissful, stress-free experience when you encounter Jesus. That isn't what Christianity is about. But at one point in my life, that is exactly what I wanted and expected out of it.
My life has never been very difficult. I went through the struggles of school, relationships, family issues, and things that everyone faces. I was saved on August 3rd, 2015 on a camping trip with my youth group. I considered myself to be on a "spiritual high" for the next few months, and that was exactly what it was. I felt God's presence with me everywhere I went. I guess that's the immediate aftermath of salvation for most people. As soon as that high wore off though, I felt more confused than ever before. Where did God go? Why can't I feel Him anymore? Has He left me? What am I doing wrong? I didn't understand why I felt just as alone as I had before.
That feeling of betrayal continued for months. After finally opening up to a few close friends who had strong relationships with Jesus, I understood what my problems were (yes, it was more than one). First of all, knowing God is not based on a feeling. If it was based on a feeling, God would have had to come down and swoon me and make me fall in love with Him. Obviously, He didn't. I choose to love Him every single day because of who He is and all He has done to give me life.
Second, I was not trusting Him with my whole heart. Once again, because I could not "feel" Him with me, I assumed He was not. But He was and he always is. I have to trust that no matter how far away He seems, He is really right there next to me. Read the book of Esther. God is never mentioned, but it's completely obvious He has total control over all of it. Finally, I learned that I was not seeking Him. How can you have a relationship with someone without ever spending time with them? Reading my bible, praying, and just listening to Him were things I had to start doing.
Realizing all of this had a tremendous effect on my relationship with Jesus and on my life in general. Did all of my problems disappear? No. Was my life totally stress free? Absolutely not. But I trust Him. I trust that His plans are greater than my own and they will fall into place according to His will. It is a fight. There will be obstacles and people who try to bring you down.
Keep fighting the good fight, finish this race, and always keep the faith. The reward will be greater than anyone can imagine. There is a place for stress and a place from problems in my life. That place is in the hands of my Savior because He knows what to do with them better than I ever will.