So, you’re in a spiritual rut. Your inspiration’s gone. And you’re not sure why. Just last week, you were rolling, investing in your marriage, being intentional with your kids, living with passion and purpose in your work.
But right now, the best word to describe things is “meh.” Everything’s a struggle.
More times than not, these ruts are compounded by ‘Super Christians’. They come in different shapes and sizes. The girl who posts new pics of her journal every day, filled with new insights about how the Lord spoke to her. Or maybe the guy who lives on the mountaintop and sees your apathy as a lack of faith. Regardless of form, the message is the same: you’re not trying hard enough.
Also, regardless of form, my attitude towards them is the same: disgust. The unholy kind. The kind that involves a gut punch and a roundhouse kick, not necessarily in that order.
For the rest of us ‘Normal Christians’, how do we respond when inspiration is low? Ups and downs are inevitable. I won’t pretend to offer you ‘7 steps to get outta that rut’. I also won’t pretend to trivialize something more serious than a lack of inspiration – clinically-diagnosed depression and anxiety, for example – by offering a quick fix. (The Church has minimized serious mental conditions for years, much to the peril of many Christians. To those mired in such a battle, I want to affirm you and encourage you to find help, in the form of counseling or medication or a combination of both.)
Here’s what I will do: give you practical steps that have helped me. You might find one or all of them helpful. Use what works. Throw out the rest. Here we go…
- Disrupt your routine.
Routines throw us into autopilot. And what we need is something new.
If you work from home, pack up your junk and try a local coffee shop. If you spend time with God in the morning, try a different time of day. Attend a conference in your respective field. Changing my schedule and hearing inspiring voices was a holy kick in the pants.
Mark Batterson says, “Change of pace plus change of space equals change of perspective.” I love that quote. You should apply it.
- Keep showing up.
Sometimes what we call a spiritual rut or absence of inspiration is really resistance. Resistance is an invisible (but very real) force that seeks to destroy your destiny. I call this force evil, darkness, or Satan.
Naturally, resistance also wants to throw poo on your faith.
The only effective response to this force is to keep showing up. Don’t feel like being intimate with your spouse or lending a listening ear to your kids? Don’t feel like opening Scripture, attending a life group or being present at work?
Great. Show up anyway. Who knows? Inspiration might meet you there.
- Recognize the difference between resistance and burnout.
If you’re not self-aware, you could mistake a spiritual rut or lack of inspiration for emptiness or burnout. This would be a mistake of epic proportions.
Continuing to show up when you’re burnt out amplifies the problem.
What’s the difference between resistance and emptiness? Increased anxiety. Growing pessimism (and at times cynicism). Hopelessness. A desire to withdraw. And listening to hit songs from the 1980s (easily the worst decade in the last century, or ever).
If you’re empty, you don’t need to keep showing up. You need to recharge. Do something that fills your soul.
- Find “non-spiritual” ways to connect with God.
For me, few activities are more spiritual than running, golfing, or working out. These things recharge my heart and mind. What things do that for you? Fishing’s not for me. I suck at painting. But if these hobbies give you life, they should be a regular part of your rhythm.
We probably wouldn’t label running or fishing as “spiritual,” which is a shame. God is present everywhere and in all things, if we have the eyes to see.
As a general rule, you probably take yourself too seriously. I do too. We’re so concerned about finding our God-given purpose or raising healthy, successful kids or climbing the metaphorical ladder that we forget to have fun. Just look at how sensitive we’ve become as a culture. We’re offended if someone disagrees with us. We’re also offended if they agree with us.
Some of us need to loosen our cheeks (the rear ones) and start enjoying life.
Humor is an effective way to accomplish this.