Monday, May 25, 2009

Spiritual Dry Spells

Recently I've been struggling with a spiritual dry spell.

What do I mean by that?
  • It means that doing my morning readings has been a struggle for the past few months and I fail at least half the time (and then feel terrible about not putting God first in my day).
  • It means that when I pray I feel like I'm talking to the air, and that He must be sick of me "asking for stuff" anyway. (I mean "stuff" like wisdom, healings, etc.)
  • It means that Sunday mornings in church feel like an "empty" process of going through the motions.
  • I'm curious what a dry spell means for you?
It's not the first time I've gone through this, and I'm sure it won't be the last

But it's the
longest spell I've been through like this. And it's not like I've ever been one of those people who are especially blessed to have frequent close encounters with God anyway, but I've usually at least had many "small" reassurances of His presence. (Along with the many obvious daily signs of all His blessings, and even a few beautiful whoppers thrown in there, too...times when His power and love have been crystal clear.)

Not coincidentally, this dry spell is coming on the heels of the time in my life when I've never felt so busy and overwhelmed. While I still love blogging (thankfully), it is more demanding than anything I ever dreamed, and the never ending requirement for more posts, more social networking, more emails and comments to keep up on, etc., not only diminishes my hours of sleep in a day, but understandably also affects my spiritual life. (I knew it would be tricky until our youngest was in school, but I'm certainly not wishing this time with him away!)

To make matters worse, our teen is going through the same thing.

Thankfully, he's talking to me about it now and then, which I love. But when I, as someone who has been a Christian for years, goes through this, it's a very different struggle than when a teenager does.

As much as I don't like it, I still know a few things:
  • This is normal and "OK", it doesn't mean God has left.
  • That even great Saints went through this (a "dark night of the soul").
  • That God is still there whether or not I feel him.
I told our teen all this, but yet someone immature in their faith (and still just plain immature), is naturally going to have a tough time sticking with it.

How do I help a teen through this?

I've called my pastor to meet and talk to him (and am looking forward to it), but it just occurred to me that I could be honest, and let him know I'm also struggling, and let him see my response:
  • I won't stop "going through the motions", even when it's a dry experience.
  • When I fail at doing my daily readings again, I'll get up the next day and will keep trying.
  • I won't stop believing and knowing that He is there and that He loves me, whether or not I have the emotions to go along with it. I know that emotions and "feelings" actually only play a small part in our faith-life. Living it, even when it's not easy, is what it's all about in this earthly life. I know that God calls us to keep on keeping on. He is a much bigger God that my emotions and the limited range of "feelings" I have as a mere human.
  • Continuing to help and serve others is what we're always supposed to do.
As usual, Jennifer at "Conversion Diary" has written a beautiful, perfect post about this very topic: "To Whom Shall We Go?" Finding it in my in-box this morning is what prompted all this rambling today...

Are you going through a dry spell right now, too? If so, comment below to tell me about it and we can pray for each other! I'll gladly take any advice you have!

9 tips for spiritual dry spells from Conversion Diary

photo: James Neeley

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, Kelly, I go through dry spells, too. I even think I may be in one now. I am heading to bed later than I like these days, which makes it harder to get up the 1 hour I like to get up before the kids to pray and get ready. Then, when I roll out of bed I find myself having abbreviated, sometimes interrupted, prayer times. But, I have gotten some wisdom from priests over the past few years and even recently that can lead us to a closer, more constant relationship with Christ.

1.) One priest, twice, gave me the recommendation to go to bed earlier. He said that sleep really is important, and that getting into bed earlier makes it easier to pray night prayers. (I haven't been following this advice much lately, as I flop into bed after 11 and zonk right out! I think the dryness I feel has a direct correlation.)
2.) Just last Saturday my parish priest said that our life is well-ordered when we, at night, don't do our tasks right up to the end. He said to be sure to attend to the needs/relationships of the people around us, and then to God before turning out the light (this means tucking in the kids, maybe doing tasks, and then actually going to bed with my husband!!) Then, in the morning, it is reverse. God has to come first, then the needs of the people around me (I think this means not reading blogs while my family sits down to breakfast!!) He said there is no time limit on these things, just a deliberate ordering of our life. Otherwise, our lives are just a whole bunch of meaningless tasks.

I think what you said is also true: each morning we begin anew and start over. And we do this, not looking at a whole bunch of resolutions that we will fall short of, but with the use of our will to allow Jesus to meet us where we are.

I think the hardest thing is to pass on our faith to our children, to instill in them a prayer life and personal relationship with Christ, and to show them how to walk the walk (when we ourselves fall short of that every minute of every day). I think it is consistency and perserverance, submitting to Christ's will in our lives (which can come from prayer and scripture), and begging His help in this area. And then, as the first priest mentioned above told me, "you eventually have to cut the shirt tails and allow them to develop their own faith." Sad sometimes, but painfully true....

Thank you for your candid postings, and for drawing people into real life faith in Christ!
Sue E.