The Doldrums

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Life… it wears you down, like a sailor out at sea. There are seasons of smooth sailing and you reach your destination with no problems. The wind is blowing you in the right direction with not a single cloud in the sky. You might even get a chance to stop by some beautiful tropical islands and hang with the locals along the way, eat some good food, trade for some indigenous art, and STILL make it on time. And then there are those times when you’re caught in a storm, and life bombards you with wave after wave of unexpected events and surprises. You’re in so deep that you’re certain the ship will sink with this much water on deck. All you can do is tell your crew to hold fast (hey hey) as you try your best to steer the ship out of the storm.

And then there are the doldrums. Areas of life where there’s no impelling wind pushing you forward… or backward. You are just existing, and you have no idea how you are going to get out of this state of stagnancy. No, nothing is going wrong with the ship, and life is just the same as it usually is, but for some reason, you just can’t bring yourself to do anything. Steering the ship won’t help because you still won’t get anywhere. You sit there for days. Days turn into weeks, and you see yourself running low on supplies. You feel trapped, and there’s nothing there to direct or guide you.

Sometimes, I find myself stuck in the doldrums of life. I simply exist. I have no desire to do any work, no desire to deepen my relationship with Christ. I didn’t even want to write this blog post, lol #realtalk. But in terms of spiritual growth, it sometimes gets to the point where I wonder if God is actually working because I’m not seeing the results I desire fast enough. Maybe it’s the end of the semester talking, and I just really want to be home right now. But strangely enough, this hasn’t only been me. Howard just preached on this last weekend, and Shann mentioned it in her CoW blog as well. You simply can’t be on fire for Jesus 24/7/365; this happens to everyone at one point or another.

So this is my take on this issue: how can I address my apathy? How can I care again? How can I continue to grow in such a stagnant situation?

Have grace.
But he said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Sometimes, I look at myself and think about how much I suck. I don’t do the things that I say I’ll do because I’m too preoccupied with laying in bed and watching youtube videos from the time I get home from work to when I go to bed. I fell asleep last night watching cooking videos (procrastinating writing this blog), and when I woke up, I quickly showered and went straight to bed. Looking back, I definitely don’t see myself seizing the day in those moments. But the more I focus on how much I suck, the easier it is for me to give up. The easier it is for me to say that I’m not growing. Have grace. It won’t be like this forever, so just pick yourself up and try again. In moments like these, I picture Jesus picking me up, telling me, “See Aaron, you can’t do this on your own. You need me. Let me help you.”

Allow yourself to be challenged.
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Getting out of the doldrums was never easy. Sailors had to wait days and even weeks (months?!??) until the winds returned. They sometimes even had to break out the paddles and manually row themselves to a place of movement. Sounds like hard work. But let’s be real, I’m not expecting to suddenly rise up from the ashes of despair and become a new man, hopeful and optimistic. I’m going to need to take time to stay focused and remain disciplined, remembering to live the day to day “pressing on towards the goal.” And it’s in these moments where I decide that instead of moping or being content with where I am, I take the challenge head on. I start memorizing Bible verses. I put myself out there to build meaningful relationships with others. I step out of my comfort zone.

This semester has been challenging for me. Even when I’ve intentionally tried to grow (mentally, physically, spiritually), I’ve been met with resistance of some kind, and that resistance is (more often than not) enough to stop me from pushing forward. But looking back, I can say that even amidst all of the failures and apathy, I have grown. God has shown me a community of people I can trust and gain insight from. He has shown me His faithfulness by constantly pursuing me and drawing me near to Him despite my laziness. He has used me in ways I thought I wasn’t good enough to accomplish. He has shown me that He is worth pursuing.

And so, maybe reflect on the things that have happened in the past year, but from a different perspective. Maybe God has indeed been there all along. Maybe He has been that gentle breeze that silently pushes against the sails of your ship, guiding you and drawing you all the more nearer to your destination.