A relationship with God isn't instant gratification... although you feel different. You don't decide just to give Him your heart one day and then suddenly your life is perfect. No one's life is ever perfect... no matter how it looks from the outside.
A relationship with God is a lot like putting together a garden. First you have to decide whether or not to build the garden. Building anything is work. You have to put in the time and labor. The good news is, this garden doesn't cost you anything... The price has already been paid.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
1 Timothy 15-16 "The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life."
Then, you have to cultivate the land. You have to give over your whole self. The good and the bad. The land has to be cleared and tilled, some might say the land needs to be broken down ... and sometimes healthy dirt needs to be brought in to enrich the soil. God can do this for you. He can wipe your slate clean.
1 Corinthians 3:9 "For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building."
Someone has to plant the seeds. At times, these seeds are already there in your heart... waiting to be properly planted. Other times, you are broken down before the seeds even come to light. But you need the seeds to grow. It can be a dear friend who loves you that simply says in your time of need "God loves you... and so do I, you are worthy of love... so much love". It can be something you heard on TV about faith... something you heard in church about 'new life' and being forgiven. It can be a piece of scripture you randomly come across when you were begging for a sign. It comes in many different forms... but commonly it is realized by a central feeling. The seed is that tugging on your heart. That nagging feeling... when God is whispering "I am here... come to me..."
Matthew 13:31-32 "The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."
Next, you have to invest time... getting to know God and listening to his word. His word is like the water to a dry garden... he is the living water. Only God can fulfill your true thirst and your real hunger. And when you dive in... you want more and more.
Isaiah 44:3 "For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground."
John 4:14 "But whoever drinks of the water I give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Over time, it is your responsibility to weed the garden. You have to get rid of all those bad habits that you collected over the years that drag you down. You do NOT have to be perfect. As a human here on earth, there is no perfection. Changing is hard labor, it isn't easy, but it is a labor of love. These weeds of anger and resentment will be replaced by mercy and forgiveness. Go slowly if you need to, God has patience. Let's face it... humans are creatures of habit. It's our nature to want to keep living as we have been... but once you give yourself over to God... you become an example of His grace and mercy... you never know who is watching, who might be led to God by your example. Lucky for us, we have a guide book on how to live in this broken world, The Bible.
Titus 3:5 "He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy"
Matthew 13: 37-39 "He answered, 'the one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels."
This growing trust in God is like fertilizer that allows you to grow both spiritually and emotionally. Soon enough the gardens will begin to sprout new life. God has given you this new life.
Colossians 3: 2-4 "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on Earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory."
There will be bad days full of high winds and strong storms, but with God as your strong foundation... you will not be overcome. His love will shine down upon you through it all.
James 1: 12 "Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him."
Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."
John 16:33 "I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world!"
Soon you will see beautiful blossoms... as all these pieces fall into place. You will realize that God has a plan for you. Will you trust him in that plan? Even if it isn't always easy? The most important thing to keep in mind is that God does not make mistakes. He chose you... He loves you... He wants to be in your life just as He wants to be in mine.
No matter how overgrown my land had become with sin and anger and pain... God renewed me. He continues to renew me every day. And I continue to see more and more blossoms opening to show their beauty to the world. Though the path was hard... it continues to be hard. I wasn't ready for the next leg of our journey. I wasn't ready for how hard our path would truly become. I wasn't ready to fully trust God yet, I thought I was... but I was not... I would get there though, slowly but surely.
If you are intrigued by this garden idea... I highly recommend reading Crossroads by William Paul Young. It is amazing. I also recommend that you read his first book as well The Shack.