A few weeks ago I started a mastermind group. It’s a small group of writers and bloggers each committed to their own story and also committed to each other. This post started as a status updated in that group:
I feel like I’ve become the downer of our little group. It’s really unlike me and I don’t like it. I keep finding myself wrestling with God over issues that I thought I’d already surrendered. For instance, I really want to write on my blog. I just paid for another year of hosting, I want to see the value of it by actually posting something there- I want to move forward. But there are no words for me on my blog…
Perhaps you, blog reader, have also noticed my silence in this space. I promise it’s not for lack of desire to connect with you. I dream of filling this space with words to connect with you. But also, I have this story to tell, but it’s not blog content, or at least it’s not yet. I could fill pages and pages with that story. Pages that no one would see. And so, I realize my struggle has to do with wanting the immediate gratification of blog writing. Blogging is a sharing, a connection, a complete interaction. When I write pages I write alone…
Whatever the reason for my struggle, at this point I feel like I’m failing on all sides of writing. I’m frustrated. More than that, I’m tired. Not the tired from too many nights of too little sleep, but the kind of emotional tired that feels like it’s rooted in the core of my bones. An I-don’t-want-to-think-much-less-write tired. It’s lasted so long I can’t help but ask myself, am I ever going to recover from this emotional lethargy?
We are studying Elijah in church. This week we studied 1 Kings 19. This story takes place right after the Elijah hosted showdown between the One True God and the Baals. It was a major victory for Elijah in proving God’s sovereignty. One would think that Elijah would have been elated after such an event. Instead we find Elijah running for his life. Elijah runs deep into the desert, lays under a tree, and prays for death.
“I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” -1 Kings 19: 4
I can relate. It’s not that I feel that unhappy, it’s that I feel that tired.
Now, we know Elijah fled because he was afraid for his life. It’s written right there, clear as day, in verse 3. What I’m sharing now is the “Jennifer filter” of how I interpret Elijah went from fleeing to save his life to lying under a tree asking God to take his life. It’s a lot of reading between the lines of text and probably not entirely Biblically accurate, but completely understandable from where I am sitting. Just speculate with me for a minute.
Elijah had just done this great thing for God. It was a spectacle of monumental proportions that had been years in the making. It was the climax of the story. Elijah had proven God’s mighty power once and for all. Surely there was nothing left for Ahab and Jezebel to dispute. Surely now they would come to recognize the LORD and lead all of Israel back to the LORD. Elijah had accomplished his mission, now it was time to reap the rewards.
Instead Jezebel sent a message that she was going to kill him. This could not have been the message Elijah was expecting and it wouldn’t have taken long for his fear to turn to despair. If this mighty work for God was not enough to convince Ahab and Jezebel to change their ways then nothing ever would. What was left for Elijah to do but curl up under a tree and die? By this point he had to have become exhausted, not just from running, but also from trying.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who can relate to Elijah in this way. Reassure me that you too have felt that terrible exhaustion of trying. Maybe, like me, you’re trying to write. Maybe you’re trying to be a better mom, better wife, or better friend. Maybe you’ve been trying to keep your house cleaner, stay on top of the laundry, or get rid of that ant colony invading your kitchen. Maybe you’ve been trying to improve your family’s healthy through clean eating and more frequent exercise.
Whatever your current mission, I think we all reach that point where we think “Ah-ha! I’ve got this! I’ve done it! The hard part is finished, it will be all downhill from here! Time to enjoy the ride!” Only to realize moments later that this wasn’t a quick-fix solution after all. We’re not done yet. That easy thing isn’t easy and it’s possible that it will be a life-long struggle. That moment- that moment right there? That’s when the tired really sets in.
What’s the answer? What do you do when you come up against that tired?
You get back to basics.
God didn’t do anything super profound for Elijah in the desert, at least not yet. God didn’t respond to Elijah’s despair with a great pep-talk. Actually, God didn’t address Elijah’s emotional need at all. Instead God answered Elijah’s apparent physical needs. God provided food and sleep for Elijah.
Sometimes you just need to sleep. Sometimes you just need to eat.
Despair often sets in because a physical need isn’t being met. Sleeping and eating are necessary for maintaining a healthy mental state. It’s OK for you to have days where the best that you can do is make sure that you’ve gotten enough sleep and enough to eat.
I read a blog post today about how we, as moms, often say we’ll do these (and many other things) later. I loved it, and I felt warm all over, and I know Becky is right- it’s totally worth it. But at some point you have to realize that “later” has to be today. It’s OK to reach that point when you have to stop long enough to sleep and eat yourself. It’s necessary.
I don’t know exactly what all this means for my writing on this blog. I have a sense that my writing really isn’t the point anymore. At least it’s not today. Today I will spend praying for you. I pray that today you find the time and the space to sleep and to eat. Because YOU matter. You matter not for what you are giving and not how you are growing. You matter because the LORD loves you. It’s really that simple. Promise.
If you have reached a point in your life where this journey has become too much for you and what you’re really craving is courage, not just food and rest, I have a few reading suggestions. Finding Spiritual Whitespace, by Bonnie Gray, is an excellent example of what it looks like to give yourself over to your need for rest- both physical and spiritual. The Cure for the Perfect Life, by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory, is a handbook full of laughter and courage as the authors share examples of what it looks like to stop striving to be super-human. Grace for the Good Girl, by Emily P. Freeman, is a book that highlights how God really sees you and what it means to fully live in His amazing grace. Come Away My Beloved, by Frances J. Roberts, is my personal go-to on hard days, this little book is packed with encouragement and promises of God’s unending love. You can find links to all these books (and a few more) in the sidebar on my website (subscribers click here).
If you have read a book or a blog post recently that has been impactful to you please share it in the comments below, I could use the encouragement.
As for this space… I think it’s fair to expect it to stay on the quiet side here awhile longer. I am resting and eating in the spiritual sense as much as in the physical sense. God is preparing me for a journey. One would think that this resting and eating is a simple thing, but it’s really not. It feels very inactive and I’m not really sure how to do inactive. So I’m listening to the words God has spoken over me and I’m taking seriously the advice of those who have walked before me on this road.
Don’t plan right now… Just write… -Bonnie Gray
There are a couple of scheduled posts coming up this month, but for the most part it will be quiet here. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me through the comments, via email, or on Facebook. I look forward to connecting with you even as I rest.