I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately. Work has been full on – intense, stressful and longer hours than normal; I have extra ministry things I do also in the evenings; and as a single mum there is a lot of parenting and housekeeping to do. I just felt immobilised by the fullness of my life yet which was not fulfilling. I felt like I was running just to keep up but feeling emotionally cold about all of it. My daily Bible reading suffered, I had no energy or interest in doing anything.
After about a month of this, I finally prayed to God that he would help me with feelings of energy and purpose.
Two days later I hurt my ankle so badly I had to take nearly a whole week off work. Tendonitis aggravated so badly that I couldn’t walk to the bathroom without crying. The doctor said I had to stay off it completely for a week but it would take up to a month to heal. Typically, and because I work from home mostly, I thought I could soldier on. But it became very clear that I couldn’t do pain management and work at the same time. Given I had over 150 sick hours (I’m not being a martyr, I’m just not sick very often!), I decided to finally just take some time and took 4 days off work.
I am OK with sitting on the couch bingeing a few episodes of Great British Bake Off if I have decided to take a pyjama day, but Sunday to Friday was a big stretch. By Tuesday I could hobble about the house if careful. So instead of being careful I rearranged the furniture in the living room and de-cluttered two shelves that have been driving me nuts for ages.
Back to the couch in agony. But mentally feeling less burdened.
I started my Bible reading again and felt that old fire of reading Scripture hungrily and expectantly. Knowing I was reading something precious. Knowing I was getting to know Jesus better with every page. Knowing that by knowing him, I could stretch further and mold my character to his.
By Thursday I had de-cluttered my bedroom, taken my old bed apart and bought a new one, and spring cleaned the whole room.
Back to the couch in agony. But feeling happier and lighter.
I read all four gospels and the book of Acts that week. By the end of the week, I wasn’t just back into the swing of Bible reading and prayer, I was feeling closer to God, energised both emotionally and spiritually. I prayed longer and more often than in the previous month. I prayed for the energy to be diligent and work hard at work, but to give me energy and purpose in writing and gospel ministries. Within a few days, I had opportunities to write a 4-feature article series, an invitation to join a conference committee and an invitation to speak at a women’s retreat.
Now, I am not saying this was a quid pro quo. And the point of this story is not getting things from God. The point is this:
I don’t pretend to know the mind of God, but it feels as though I was in a place where I was unable to bring myself out of my slump. God quite literally knocked me off my feet to give me the brain space and time to just think. I had the time to let him back into my life and reignite my passion for knowing him. With my brain cleared of work and life clutter, I suddenly had energy to de-clutter the space around me – which then also had the effect of creating more space in my brain, more space for what was important.
With that additional space, I was reading his word and praying for things that were wise and honourable. And with the additional space I could see more clearly when those prayers were answered. Which then created space for gratitude, which feeds energy and purpose.
The effect on my house has been more than individual. With renewed energy and purpose, my kids reap the rewards also. They see again a passion for Bible reading and praying. I engage them in Bible reading and praying again. At the same time, it turned out another friend of mine was in a slump as well. As with many things women (or all humans?) experience, she thought it was just her. We met and we shared and encouraged each other – so God was using both our experience to lift each other up and influence both our houses.
Sometimes we need God to stop us in our tracks to re-remember what is important and what we should be making space for, whether that be in our minds, hearts, houses or lives in general. It’s a re-calibration.
Surely the aim for us is not to be perfect all the time (only Christ is perfect anyway) but to lean on God when our steadfastness fails us. And to recognise when he is creating space for us to learn. We might not know so clearly what he is trying to teach us, but if we are faithful in spending time with him and creating the space to listen, then can’t go far wrong. And maybe his perfect plan will become clear and maybe it won’t, but we will be closer to him. Our characters will be molding to his will. We will be moving along the journey of sanctification. And we will be influencing beyond ourselves by supporting and witnessing and comforting others, and glorifying him.
“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:15-16)
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
“He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)