In a spiritual slump? Read this.
I haven’t confessed this out loud to many people.
Maybe I just don’t want to fully admit it into myself. Perhaps I don’t want an added layer of accountability, or it could just be that I’m confused how it has happened.
Those of you who have followed our story throughout the past year or so have known we have gone through quite a few major transitions. It started with job loss, went to taking an intentional season of Sabbath through our church, and ended in a career transition that moved us 1,000 miles away from the state we had both lived for over 25 years. It’s been an exciting season- a breath of fresh air for the dry cycle we were stuck in the first year we were married. So many supernatural blessings- and I don’t say that lightly. So many ways God has shown through. I’ve grown so deep in my understanding of who God is, and who I am.
I’ve struggled the past few months against a dryness of the soul. Apathy is a term that makes me cringe. I never feel more lifeless than when the apathy creeps in. It’s like a silent disease. Maybe you notice it sliding around the corner, or maybe you wake up one day and it’s there, threatening to squeeze the life out of your passion. And there’s not much more I hate.
I used to think that an apathetic Christian was a bad Christian. After all, doesn’t Jesus condemn the lukewarm, saying He will “spit them out of his mouth?” (Revelation 3:16). So whenever the passion dwindled, I turned up the inward heat. I realize now I was just shaming myself back to Jesus, believing the lies of disappointment and failure that threatened to squash me. If I guilted myself enough, I would eventually just “fall back in line”.
I’m not pretending that I know the Savior of all Creation inside and out, but I am 1000% sure that guilt is never from the Lord. So that guilt and shame you feel for “not caring enough”? That’s not Jesus’ tactic for coming back. His way is to open His arms, free of condemnation and full of redemption, and ask you to run back into them. Just know that there isn’t a switch that you can turn on that will turn up the passion and banish the apathy. And that’s okay.
Because faith isn’t about feeling any more than it is about trying harder.
And luckily we have a Helper who desperately wants you to feel the throws of grace. Not because you “have to”. But because there is something so much more than trudging forward without feeling the Father’s love squishing all of your insides in pure, uncontained joy.
I’m just sayin’ I’m there with ya. I've been periodically struggling with apathy since we've moved. Maybe it’s the months spent looking for a new church, or perhaps it’s that for awhile there we were trying to sort out our basic living needs- and sometimes, that makes you selfish. I don’t like it and I don’t get it, but I’m here, and I’ve been here before. But I don’t want to let the battle of shame win me over.
My feelings don’t rule me. Christ does.
I’m fighting hard to win back what is mine- and that’s the unimaginable peace gifted to me as a believer nestled in the heart of Christ. It’s yours, too. Don’t let apathy win.
1. Stay rooted in Scripture.
I know. You might not feel like reading your bible right now. Some days/weeks/months/years, we just won’t have the drive to pick up the living word, and some seasons we won’t be able to get enough. That’s the struggle of the human spirit. Do it anyway. Discipline isn’t always preferable, but forgetting truth is exactly how the Enemy tries to keep you in a slump. The reason for reading the bible is not to feel the warm fuzzies from the Holy Spirit (although I love when that happens!)- it’s to guard our hearts with truth. The Bible says who the Lord is. And it always says who you are. There are lots of voices out there trying to claim your identity. Don’t let them.
2. Find a church community.
The western culture is an interesting shift from the Midwest culture. Many people head to the mountains for the weekends, so consistent community is harder to come by. It’s super easy to make an excuse to skip out on church. From working long hours, to needing a break from busy, to wanting to connect to the Lord individually, there isn’t a shortage of reasons why not to go to church. But there is something about corporate worship and a directed message full of wisdom that starts to break down those walls of apathy. Plus, you become who you are surrounded by. If your spirit is in the dessert, you especially need this loving accountability around you.
3. Give yourself grace.
You can influence your feelings, but you can’t always control them. I’m definitely qualified as an emotional person. If I’m not careful, my emotions become my identity and my truth. Feelings add life, but they are not the governing force. It’s okay to give yourself a little grace. Struggling with apathy does not make you a “lesser” Christian. It does, however, challenge us with the question of how much do you love Me? Lack of passion makes it much easier to serve ourselves first and the Father second (or third or fourth or twenty seventh). This is why we need to be reminded that our faith is so much bigger than feeling, and that the truth of our identity does not lie in our feelings but in our hearts. Give yourself grace, but don’t let yourself stay. Life is so much fuller when you push through these feelings.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4).