It’s like a slow decay.
You don’t feel it and, at first, you may not even realize that it’s happening.
But it is a strange phenomena; that something so dull and lifeless actually sucks the life right out of you. It’s like this energy sapping, feelings-eraser that consumes your being, your passion, your energy.
Like a giant straw, it sucks away at your life: slowly but surely.
And now, here I am, realizing that it has taken over me. It was something I didn’t even have the energy to fight… I guess that’s why it’s called apathy. I didn’t want to do anything about it so I didn’t do anything about it. But now I feel like I am waking up from a coma and I can feel again. I can recognize that everything isn’t quite alright and I want to do something about it now. But I am stuck, overwhelmed not knowing where to go or how to “fix” it.
What is a Christian to do who feels lifeless and passionless?
I know there are a million and one textbook answers that people throw at this question, telling others that we just need to put our heads down and push through. Or that we just need to do something. That I just need to trust God and lean on Him and ask Him for help, yes? Just spend more time in the word. Go pray some more. Volunteer. Share the gospel.
Please, don’t hear my bitterness as negating any of the former. All of those are good, right, life-giving things that do draw us closer to YHWH. My bitterness is more directed toward the lack of empathy from the people who dish that out (Ha. Which is ironic considering I haven’t had much of that even for myself at all recently.). It is directed at those Christians who are not meeting people where they are. It is negating the thought that following Jesus comes with a “grin and bear it” mentality. It comes from a place within my being – whether good or not – that doesn’t want to do things out of obligation, but desires to desire and wants to want these things. And if I don’t feel like it, then I just won’t do it.
I know this is dangerous, and I admit that there are many times in the Christian life where we do have to act even when we don’t feel like it; after all, that wouldn’t be much faith, now would it?
So I think that these remarks may be half-true, but then I am left wondering what the other half might be. What is missing here? Surely, Jesus must have addressed this somewhere in scripture, right?
Have you not read what was said to you by God: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching. But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:31-40
Two things stand out to me from this passage:
- Jesus claims that the greatest commandment, the highest letter of the law, is to love God with all that we are. Then he says that loving others is to follow.
- Just before the Pharisees asked him this stumper of a question, the Sadducees asked him a different question regarding marriage and death. I think it is really neat that Jesus reminds them that He is a God of the living, not of the dead.
So even in the midst of my apathy, when I don’t feel very alive, my God claims that He is a God of the living. And even when I don’t feel like doing anything because my apathy has crippled me, I am still commanded to love Him.
I receive this sooooo much better than all of those other things people may say to one who is struggling in the Christian walk. Somehow, being reminded that my God first and foremost commands me to love Him, changes everything. Because even though I may not have the strength or the passion to do all of those other “things”, I do know that I can love Him.
We love because he first loved us. – 1 John 4:19
I don’t have to muster up the effort to love Him back, because it is merely a matter of receiving and returning the original love which He lavishly gave.
That sounds a bit more do-able, yeah? And, perhaps, leave myself a few visible reminders that He is good, He is true and He is trustworthy so that, regardless of my feelings, I have a foundation to rebuild my faith upon.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:4-9
One last thought. I recently picked up Streams of Living Water, a book I had been reading and put down for some time. It is chock-full of incredible stories of God’s redemption in people’s lives through the history of the church. Just this morning I was reading of the crazy conversion story of the famous Augustine – he came from a pretty dark, doubtful place to a history-changing, God-honoring revelation of the beauty of God’s love and grace. This quote is from him, regarding his conversion, and I think it is a beautiful representation of where I want to be again: back in the place of awe and desperation for more of my incredible Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
“Late it was that I loved you, beauty so ancient and so new, late I loved you! … You called, you cried out, you shattered my deafness; you flashed, you shone, you scattered my blindness: you breathed perfume, and I drew in my breath and I pant for you: I tasted, and I am hungry and thirsty: you touched me, and I burned for your peace.” – Augstine