I’ve been struggling lately with a bit of a spiritual funk. I feel as though I am weary from all the striving and trying to live up to unrealistic expectations (most of which are self-imposed). The demands, or at least perceived demands, on the average person these days is enough to put anyone over the edge. We are overworked and over-scheduled and we live overwhelmed and overdone. It’s a vicious cycle that people cannot thrive in so they settle for survival. But I don’t just want to survive. Do you?
It seems like just trying to live day-to-day has become a challenge tantamount to climbing Mount Everest. If that is the case, I’d rather actually climb Everest and have something to show for all the effort rather than the lack of satisfaction that comes from a mundane, sleepwalking existence that may, in fact, be equally draining.
When everybody wants a piece of me, I am pulled in so many directions that I often feel there isn’t enough to go around. This living fragmented is tough. Really, it’s broken. It’s certainly not the way to wholeness.
I’m trying to get back to the basics, to weed through all the extra stuff and make sure that my focus is where it ought to be. I know it is distracted and distorted and I want to get back on track but I feel like the usual paths are not getting me there. Sometimes even the doing of the right things just adds more to a to-do list that is already a mile long. The things that I have done in the past to reconnect are not working.
Perhaps the secret is to stop doing. To become undone, so to speak.
Jan Johnson, in her excellent book, Abundant Simplicity, writes of the abstinence disciplines such as fasting, solitude, silence, and simplicity as “breathing out”. The modern church seems to be focused on all the engagement disciplines (study, prayer, worship, fellowship and service) which are the “breathing in” and has, by in large, excluded the rest.
The trouble is you need both to have a complete breath. The constant inhale will not work. Much has to be exhaled to keep things in balance. This is wisdom that we are largely missing as Christians in the North American Church, if my experience is any indicator.
I need this undoing. I need fewer pieces and more peace. I need to breathe fully the breath of God and experience that divine restoration because the expectations I have for myself will never be satisfied and I will continue to deplete without His strength.
Johnson also quotes Paula Hudson on the subject of living with a singular focus: “interior chaos subsides; the psychic battlefield goes calm and silent. People can experience themselves as whole and at peace instead of fragmented.” SO. WANT. THAT. A holy fixation that realizes that I’m not enough but He is and that is okay. That is enough.