When I just don’t care

Have you ever been in a place where you feel apathetic to what God is doing in your life, or what He’s trying to do in your life? I’m there. now.

It started with a desperate plea. “Jesus. Whatever You do, please don’t let go of me. Just. don’t. let. go. I’m prone to walk away from You. Don’t let me do that.” <—me, last January, after a few rough months.
And it dwindled to “Jesus. Whatever You do, please keep not-letting-go of me. Just. don’t. let. go. I’m empty. Not growing, just barely surviving. And that doesn’t really bother me right now. Please, don’t let me do anything to dishonor You.” <—me, a couple of weeks ago, after things just kept going from bad to worse after those few rough months.
2013 has gone down in the books as an agonizingly difficult year for my heart.

For a number of reasons. It doesn’t matter terribly what they are. What matters is, what do I do when I am apathetic to whether or not I’m growing spiritually? Because right now, I don’t care.

There have been times when I’ve been angry. frustrated. doubtful. worried. and at least I can say that I felt something during those days…but right now, there is nothing feely going on in my heart, as far as my relationship with the Lord goes. It’s like a vacuum. I know it shouldn’t be that way, and I know I don’t want it to be that way. But I can’t seem to break free of it, just yet.

As I’m slogging through my apathy, I’ve found that God has provided these boundaries for me as He is faithfully answering my prayer to not let go of me:
*Read anyway.*

Over the past couple of weeks, I do not feel like getting up and reading my Bible – in the morning or really at any time. I don’t. I’d rather sleep in, or check to see if I have any new comments or messages or pins…anything else. But I get up, and read at least one verse from somewhere in the Bible. Psalm 13 is a favorite passage. If I can, I read whatever I choose out loud to the girls while they eat breakfast. It sort of keeps me accountable (because if I miss it – they notice).

My head knows lots of Scriptures. I know His promises and His admonitions. But that doesn’t mean I can limp along on just what I’ve read before…He bids me to remind myself every day.

And somedays, I read and think “meh. I’ve read that before.” But just maintaining the habit of reading will bear fruit. And I don’t know if one simple verse will be the verse that He uses to spring my heart back to growing. He said that His Word will not return to Him void.
*Pray anyway.*

One of the most frustrating parts of praying is that I pray, and pray, and pray, and pray, and pray, and pray, and………………..

I feel like I’m talking to a wall because I don’t see anything happening.

But He reminds me often – through my children saying “oh, but Mom, we need to pray”, or by the verses I’ve hung up around the house – that He desires that I persevere in prayer. And, He can handle my honesty – my doubts, my frustration, my questions, my ugliest thoughts, and my confession of total disinterest right now. The truth is that He is a loving Father, and He wants to hear what’s on my heart.

…but I do need to remember that while He is a loving God, He is a holy God and I need to share those things with reverence. Even though I don’t feel that He’s working, the truth is that He is, and He is sovereign.

And when I’m done pouring out my sorrows and hurts, I need to listen. That’s part of prayer, too.

*Teach anyway.*

Every morning, we have Bible time and prayer & praise time. Even though I’m so tempted to let this slide and just let them pop in a movie while I have my coffee alone, God reminds me every morning that whether or not I want to, I have a responsibility to the girls to teach them the truths of God. So I use an excellent children’s devotional (Leading Little Ones to God), and I pretty much just read straight out of it, along with a verse or two.

Teaching doesn’t have to be formal, either. My girls have gotten more of a lesson than I will ever know on what it looks like for a woman to walk through a difficult time. And in spite of me, God is working on their hearts. I must continue to speak the truth into their lives even when I’m struggling to live it out.

{A note. There is a marked difference between a mom who demands one thing of her children and lives by an entirely different example, and a mom who strives alongside her children with gentle honesty, each falling at times and helping one another through the hard seasons.}

There are times when my girls would see me crying, and ask what was wrong, and I would pull them up into my lap and read a Psalm out loud to them. And I would spend time explaining that Mommy’s heart is sad, and that God says that is okay and He listens, but that I still need to remember that He’s good to me all of the time. They know I don’t measure up – and they see me get up again and again by His grace and in His strength alone. Right now, I feel down for the count, and the girls have been sweet to use the verses and songs they know to help me. Teach anyway.

*Sing anyway.*

Right now, there are few praise songs that I want to sing. But it doesn’t make their message less true. I have a short list of songs that gently help me to thank God for His patience with and love for me even in these barren times. Here is one that I have listened to every day for weeks:

“Though You Slay Me”
Shane & Shane ft. John Piper
*Fellowship anyway.*

Proverbs 18:1 says that a man who isolates himself seeks his own desire and rages against all wise judgment.

Whoa. That seems pretty harsh to me. Especially right now, because most days I’m content to be home and not bother people.

To cut myself off from other people who could encourage, build up, listen, or pray for me would be foolish. And God has provided people who check in, who call, who pray, who seem to not tire of asking me how I’m doing – and they really, actually, truly want to know the honest answer. They aren’t scared off by my “meh”-ness, or by tears of frustration with myself…because many of those He’s put in my path have been there and can remind me that this is just a season.

In Exodus 17, Moses is standing on a hill while the Israelites are fighting a battle. As long as his hands are lifted in the air, Israel is victorious; when he lowers his arms, the enemy starts gaining the upper hand. After a while, his arms are feeling understandably heavy – and two men come alongside him and hold up his arms, that the battle might be won by Israel. I tear up now, even thinking about that story, because it is the picture God gives me when a friend calls me up just to ask how I’m doing, or when a lady from church stops by with dinner ‘just because’, or when my parents, brother, or close friends let me know that they are here. They are lifting up my arms toward heaven until this battle is over and I am rejuvenated in my spirit.

It is necessary that when I want to cut myself off from others, I remember that interaction with others is important. Not only for my encouragement, but to help me get my mind out of my own pity-party and focus on the needs and struggles of people I know. This journey He’s called me to, with the events of the year, is not only about me. It’s about how He is working through my life to make much of His might, love, and patience.

*Obey anyway*

This is probably the most difficult one right now.

Obedience is not based on my circumstances. Even when I don’t care about my own spiritual growth, it is vital that I obey the words of my Lord.

In fact, if the Bible is only obeyed when times are good and I’m feeling in tune with God – then it is not, in fact, obedience. Choosing to obey in spite of how I feel (or don’t feel, in this case) is sometimes a hard choice. No, I don’t feel like being kind. No, I don’t feel like hoping all things. No, I don’t feel like giving thanks in all circumstances.

But He wants obedience.

And He gives me the fortitude to obey; and when I choose to disobey (which is too often), He gives me extravagant grace when I come back and confess that I messed up.

…All of this doesn’t mean that I never have moments of genuine feeling. Oh, I do – on both ends of the spectrum!! It just means that in general, I’m having a rough time right now. When I post verses, songs, thoughts, etc, it’s because they’ve stirred my heart and I need to share that. I realize that to some, doing all these things anyway when I don’t feel it could seem cold and calculated, but it’s really an act of trust. I believe that as I press on in spite of being stagnant that there will come a time of tenderheartedness and rejoicing before the Lord. I’m not there yet.

Apathy stinks. But I am grateful that I can stand on the rock of God’s Word and not on the shifting sand of my own experiences & (lack of) feelings. This is just a season; it will pass. He will provide the strength to press on. But it in meantime, Jesus, please keep holding me close to You.

Following Him anyway,
for His glory!


 ©2013. Reprinted with permission from the ‘Blish.

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