Dear Ginger: What About Apathy?
Hi Ginger. Lately I have been struggling with apathy in my Christian life. It has become so bad that it has started to affect my prayer life and reading of the scriptures drastically. I feel like I have tried so hard for so long to climb out of this rut, and I simply don’t feel that I have any more strength left in me. I recognize that this is a problem, but I just don’t know how to deal with it anymore. I yearn for the passion and zeal that I used to have for the Lord and I want to get back to that place so badly, I just don’t know how. Please help me!
Fallen and I can’t get up
As I read your question, I thought to myself: From one “Fallen to another Fallen.” That’s the truth of it. If only we stayed up for the whole journey, right? But this tug and give seems to be part of the human experience, even in the life of faith.
My first hope is that you aren’t living under the yolk of a “try-hard life.” Obviously God desires us to be walking toward Him, leaning forward, drawing near on a daily basis… but at times in my life I let the guilt of my own stagnation actually push me FURTHER from Him. Keep the truth of His promises at the forefront of your heart and mind: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2, NIV)
You pose a great question. How can we fan the flame in our relationship with the Lord?
Here are some ideas for you – as it seems like you already have some sort of a routine in place:
- Change up your routine from time to time. (Sometimes I read from a different translation or at a different time in the day. Sometimes I read a book, and sometimes I take a walk outside while listening to a podcast. Watch the checklist – this is a relationship!)
- Remember that walking is still moving! Just keep moving forward. (Some days I can read a whole book of the Bible in one sitting and other days I only make it through a verse or two.)
- Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or if you’re just off your game. Pick it back up tomorrow. (Don’t let guilt keep you away from a gift!)
- Find exciting new ways to pray. Try writing out your prayers, doodling and drawing, praying with someone else, making a prayer box… write your requests on slips of paper and then draw 1-2 a day to specifically pray for. When they are answered, post them somewhere visible.
- Volunteer/serve/encourage someone else! Write out Bible verses and send encouraging notes to friends and family who might need a pick me up. Maybe even try it anonymously. Joy comes from blessing and encouraging others, rather than focusing on our own needs. When life is “all about me” it leaves little room for the joy that emerges through loving people.
Remember, if a relationship is worth growing, it’s worth pursuing even on our lamest of days. Your efforts will be rewarded!
“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7, NIV
I love this reminder from Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman:
“Emotions don’t have a brain. They are reactors. They may respond to truth, but they may also respond to lies with the same passion and conviction, sometimes more so. You must decide if you will trust the feeling or if you will trust the truth.”
It’s important to remember that your spiritual journey is a marathon, not a sprint. You will get tired, just like a runner. That’s why you need the nourishment of God’s Word, the encouragement of fellowship, and the care for your temple to see you through the tough days of training! Hang in there. Keep talking to God. He is FOR you, and not against you!
Remember that He’s not holding out on you, waiting for you to get it together.
Remember that He sees you and He hears you.
Remember that His promises are precious and great.
Remember that He loves you and He has given you everything that you need to live a great story and grow in His love and Word. Hang in there.
When your strength runs out – that’s when He goes to work! “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)
Praying for freedom from guilt and the passion you so desire...
Written by Ginger Ciminello
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