Anyone ever feel like they get in a funk? Like there are seasons of life that seem unmotivated, uninspired, unproductive? I certainly get to feeling like this, and it seems to be a theme I’ve heard from more than one or two friends recently as well. During these times, I think I’m not getting enough done, not making enough progress, not learning quickly enough, not even close to where I “should” be at my age. First of all, I should stop “should-ing” on myself. Second, maybe I need to be a bit more gentle with myself. Instead of focusing on all the things I’m not doing, all the things that aren’t good enough in my life, there are others where maybe I’m not giving myself enough credit. It can be easy to forget how far I’ve come and all that God has done in my life and blessed me with.
I think of the Proverbs 31 woman, who exemplifies the exact “ideal” of who I want to be and yet I feel so infinitely far from her. She is elusive and evasive and I just can’t figure it out. In Matthew 26:41 we hear how “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Was Jesus thinking of me as he spoke those words to his disciples?
Seriously, sometimes it feels that way. I want to start my days earlier in the morning but I constantly fail to make myself get out of bed. I want to put much more work into my writing, and yet I can’t seem to sit down and get words on paper, or rather, the screen. I want to see my horses a lot more than I do but when my schedule permits I’m finding myself lacking the motivation to get in the car and drive to the barn. My to-do list seems to be a mile long, and grows faster than I can check things off. This has to be enough to make anyone feel like a failure.
That’s when I must shift gears, change my focus, and start counting my blessings. Start giving myself a pat on the back for the things I AM doing, however few, however small, rather than tearing myself down for all the things I am not. We all know people respond better to praise than condemnation, so why do we at times not apply that same rule to ourselves?
This is when I must step back and remember that I am working two jobs, ones that can be stressful especially for an introvert, that are located approx. 40 mins from my house. I’ve started exercising daily for the first time in years, and possibly the first time in my life that I’m doing it because I just want to be healthy and strong and have more energy, rather than being forced to- either by a coach or an incessant demon in my head commanding me to burn as many calories as possible and constantly strive to lose weight. I’ve paid off a ton of financial debt in the past 2 and 1/2 years. I’ve started an herb garden and am actually excited at discovering new recipes incorporating fresh herbs that I can pick outside the back door before dinner. I’m excited at becoming a better cook, period. And every single day I’m getting closer, closer to the person God created me to be. Even in the seasons where it feels as if I’m standing still. This “funk” makes me think of quicksand, isn’t it the case that the more you fight it the faster you sink? I picture Harry and Hermione in the Sorcerer’s Stone, when they dropped through the trap door as Fluffy woke up, into that Devil’s Snare. The more you fight it the more it encompasses you, but if you just hold still and relax, it will loosen its grip and release you.
Maybe the key to getting out of this “funk” is to embrace it and be thankful for it. Maybe it’s a gift.
I spent nearly a decade of my life in a civil war. A constant battle in my own mind. One where I fought my emotions and my own body and God and anyone and everyone who loved me. Maybe resting is a gift. As I fill my days with work and dogs and horses, when I see them, and new recipes and planting a garden and sometimes just sitting outside to enjoy the birds chirping and leaves rustling in the breeze, maybe God won’t be disappointed if I am not a published author or a millionaire or saving the world by the end of the week. Maybe I shouldn’t be disappointed either.
Maybe the simple joys I am allowed to cherish in daily life is a gift, a season of peace after a season of war. A season to rest, to nourish. These things I’m enjoying while I’m “not working hard enough” such as experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen or laying on my horse’s back to watch the colors change in the sky as the sun approaches the evening horizon- are acts of finding joy in simply being alive, finding joy in nourishing my body and my soul in ways lost on me for years.
We are told in Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”
There is a season for everything, and there are seasons in my own life. Ones where I believe God is ultimately at work whether I recognize all that He is doing or not. I may want to see quick results, but I must trust He is preparing me, and when the time is right I’ll see a path open before me. I worry about wasting time, feeling as if life is passing by way too quickly, but maybe I’m not and it’s not. Maybe wasting time and resting are not the same thing. Maybe sometimes a marathon is better than a sprint. After all, even the greatest men in the Bible, legends of Christianity, didn’t accomplish their life’s purpose overnight. It took Abram 27 years, Joseph 22, David 13 to become king and 7 more before he was king over the whole nation, 14 for Paul, and 40 for Moses.
Even God took 6 whole days to create the universe. He’s God. He could have snapped his Almighty fingers and before the echo of the sound of this snap reached the nearest star, it could have been completed. But he took his time. He enjoyed the process. One day at a time, for six days. And then on the seventh day, he rested. God doesn’t need rest. He doesn’t get tired. He doesn’t need to sleep. And yet, he rested anyway.
Maybe these “funks” where we are aren’t doing enough or being enough, maybe sometimes they are just a myth. A product of comparison to others around us and a result of the scorecard of the world keeping track of our speed and successes.
And maybe the Proverbs 31 woman rested sometimes too. Maybe periods of rest are what allowed her to do all that she did the rest of the time. Maybe there is hope for me yet.
In the meantime, here are 5 tips to overcoming a “funk”:
- Focus on what you CAN control– Pray the Serenity Prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Then repeat.
- Take one day, one hour at a time– Practice presence and stay in the moment. Focus on what’s in front of you. Focus on the taste of your food when you eat and the crunch it makes in your mouth. Think about how the breeze feels against your face, or how the ground feels under your feet. Don’t worry about tomorrow, tomorrow will take care of itself.
- Be thankful– Find things to be thankful for, continuously. Thank God for everything you can think of that is good in your life, even if it’s just the air in your lungs and the clothes on your back, find something, and then find more.
- Opposite to Emotion– This is a DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) skill that is one of my favorites. If you’re feeling down, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is the exact opposite of what you feel. Feel like sitting on the couch all day? Do the opposite. Go outside and walk around in the sun. Feel like hiding under the blankets and pressing “ignore” on your phone calls? Answer them and then say “yes” when your friend asks you to meet for coffee.
- Exercise– Get your heart rate up and some sweat going, even if you need to use number 4 to get there. Physical activity gets good endorphins going and will make you feel better, it’s a proven fact.
5 1/2. Smile– Yes really, even if you are miserable inside, the physical act of smiling has been proven to make people feel better. Yeah I know, it sounds weird. Just try it.