One of the best investments we can make in our lives is fostering strong, healthy relationships with those we love. These relationships serve to strengthen our mind and physical health. These attachments show us that we matter to someone else, provide us with opportunities to look outside of ourselves and to give to others.
Unfortunately, the rat race of life often robs us of the time needed to devote and maintain these unions. As a result, many of us suffer without understanding why. We are seemingly thrown into exile – isolated from the world around us and those we love. Though we see the physical form of our loved ones, we cannot feel their loving presence or appreciate their love for us.
The same is often true with our relationship to God. The world carries us away on a rollercoaster ride, distracting us from focusing on life’s essence.
In such cases, we must take a few steps back, recharge, realign and focus on receiving the love that is being directed at us. How? To rebuild the relationship, the first, basic thing to do is to recognize the other’s presence and feel them in our hearts. How can we begin to connect to a Creator if we haven’t dedicated the time to first recognize His existence?
It is vital to implant in our consciousness that there is a Creator – a basic awareness of the presence of God in our lives. As it says in Psalms: “I have set God before me always” (Psalms, 16:8). By doing so, we essentially ‘invite’ Him into our life and are able to begin developing a relationship with Him.
So how do we rejuvenate this relationship with our Creator in order to feel His love?
Live consciously with the thought that there is purpose to life: A first step is to actively focus on the fact that nothing happens on its own. We are placed in this world to fulfill specific tasks and must remain mindful of the quest and continually search for purpose. Simply put God is closely involved in every aspect of a person’s life. Think of life’s events as personal notes intended to convey messages. Gradually as we tune in to this idea we will be able to decipher their meaning more readily.
Be aware of life’s gifts: A second step towards fostering this relationship with God is to focus on appreciating everything He has done for us. Next time you find something you have been looking for, show your appreciation by thanking God. Or the next time you miss your bus, actively look for one aspect of goodness in that occurrence, even if it’s just the fact that it gives you an opportunity to practice this exercise.
Daily events provide continuous opportunities to appreciate the goodness of God in our lives. The warm smile that greets you during a stressful day or the kind words that someone utters your way are some of the ways God interacts with you. Through these experiences we can sensitize our perception of God’s personal intervention, His constant presence, His love and care for us.
Express your faithfulness through action: The Sages suggest another way we can use to build a strong connection with God which is hinted to in the word mitzvah (Torah’s commandments), the Hebrew root of which is tzavta (companionship). Through engaging in various mitzvot we may partner with God’s will through our deeds. Furthermore, Torah study gifts us with a glimpse of infinite wisdom, since He reveals Himself through the holy letters.
Keep working on enhancing the relationship: However, as with any relationship, we must expect ups and downs in our relationship with God. Life is full of stress and trying encounters which throw us into darkness and feelings of being abandoned. Yet, it is of utmost importance to stay loyal and faithful despite of the challenges. This is the definition of unconditional love.
When we find ourselves in the dark, we must remember that we are not alone. The walls are only illusions. We learn this from the verse describing the receiving of the Torah on Mount Sinai: “… and Moshe drew near unto the fog where God was” (Exodus, 20:18). Any separation is an aspect of fog, cloudiness and darkness. However, the numerical value of the words ‘the fog’ in Hebrew is equivalent to the numerical value of the Shechinah (the Divine Presence). From this, we can deduce that God is present even when we are in a place of confusion and are experiencing loss of clarity or cloudiness of mind.
In such dark times, one way of reminding ourselves that He is still there is by simply inviting Him using simple words such as ‘God, I need You in my life.’ Communication is essential when forming a healthy connection between two parties and our relationship with God is no exception. Talking things through while respecting the other’s feelings is paramount for enhancing any relationship. Hearing the other side out and trying to place ourselves in their shoes as best as possible establishes long term feelings of validation. Just as we talk with others, we need to talk to God, trust Him enough to openly reveal ourselves to Him, and listen to His response.
It is crucial to extend time and effort to foster our relationships. Recognizing the other’s presence, searching and appreciating their kindnesses, following their suggestions, being loyal and faithful even when it seems that they are distancing themselves from us, and communicating our innermost thoughts may all consume a hefty amount of emotional energy. However, when we exert enough effort, we will be rewarded by finding that both during the joys and vicissitudes of life, the sunshine and the clouds of confusion and fogginess, they are right there with us.
Similarly, God is right there, lovingly directing our every step. Just as we connect to others in all walks of life, we will be rewarded by seeing God in every path of life.