Sometimes there's just nothing left in the tank, you know? Things have been going alright, but now you're just done. I'm not talking about chronic depression, I'm talking about plain old, run-of-the-mill malaise. Maybe you took ill and so you couldn't accomplish anything but now that you're well again you feel stuck. Or there's just too much housework to even know where to begin. Or the kids have trashed the living room and that wine bottle is not quite empty and you know it'll taste good but you're also going to feel guilty for not being responsible with your time. I was there last night. The combination of having missed 2 weeks of blogging due to illness, along with some discouraging words someone had said to me, had me feeling down, with self-pity gnawing at the edges of my consciousness.
Here's my advice: If you do nothing, then the nothingness will certainly win. But if you surrender to God and hold on to his promises, then the day might not be lost. Here's what I try I to remind myself:
1. This is Temporary
This feeling... it will pass. There's life just beyond the horizon.
2. This is not everything
These thoughts and emotions... they are not who I am. I experience them, but I am more than them.
3. This might not even be anything
Things that I don't hold to be significant shouldn't influence my sense of significance. If my day job is not fulfilling, then I won't look to it to bring fulfilment. If social media has got me down, then I turn off my phone and engage with the flesh & blood people around me. If I didn't do laundry for 10 days... I can give myself a break. You know what? You're doing alright, man. The little things? They don't really matter. And the big things? Leave them in God's hands.
4. This is an invitation
Speaking of God... all of his promises towards me are good, and everything he does is beautiful. I can experience his beautiful rescue once again today in this unique moment.
I had to go through those steps quite a few times (with a lot of focus) last night before I could even fall asleep. But you know what? I did fall asleep, and I woke up in the morning to a message from a friend half-way across the world who just wanted to encourage me that my writing brought her and her husband great joy. Those few words were sweet spoils from a hard-won battle. I enjoyed them and I savoured them. And tonight, I'm back to writing.
If you're tired and empty, then let go of the things that aren't important, and intentionally surrender all the things that are. Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that God is good, and you're going to be OK. Then get off the couch and do the dishes anyway.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
- Psalm 91