This morning I was nestled in my favorite spot- my prayer chair that sits in the corner by my living room window. I love communing with the Lord in this spot every morning and watching out the window as the world awakens. My window frames a beautiful picture every morning of the sun rising and casting its rays of light through the bank of trees in my front yard. However, today the picture looks different. It is largely overcast today and the dark gray clouds seem to be trying their best to choke out the sun. And the thing that really caught my attention was the clouds were rolling. Instead of my normal still view, I had a “motion” picture this morning.
I realized what I was seeing was a perfect metaphor for what I have been feeling these past weeks- I’m stuck watching while the world around me keeps moving. Do you ever feel stuck? Do you experience times when your feet feel like lead so that the simple task of putting one foot in front of the other is hard and even the smallest tasks seem to look like a mountain that you don’t have the energy to climb?
That’s where I have been for the past several weeks. Last month I contracted Covid, hence, my absence from here. And ya’ll, the fatigue and brain fog symptoms are real! I have never before experienced exhaustion like this and I can’t seem to keep a thought in my head for over 2 seconds. Many would say the brain fog is normal for me, but hey, at least I can usually hold a thought for 30 seconds or so. But here I am, weeks after the virus left, struggling through simple tasks. Fall is normally my most active and invigorating season of the year. And it is certainly my favorite. I love everything about it, the cooler, dryer air, the changing color of leaves, the festivals, and let’s not forget the pumpkin spice lattes. But this year every time I step out the door to enjoy it, I come back in the house coughing, which ends up exhausting me and I end up back on the couch. A cycle that frustratingly makes me feel stuck inside the window, watching the world go on without me.
And then, as if the physical symptoms were not enough to deal with, here comes the guilt and condemnation. Guilty for resting so much, guilty for not being productive, guilty for the way my house looks, guilty for not getting some commissioned artwork done, guilty for not reading the Bible, guilty for not praying more, Guilty, guilty, guilty. Can you relate? Why is it that we have such difficulty being still and resting when we need to allow our bodies to recover? Why is it that when we do so, we feel like we are letting our friends and loved ones down?
I certainly don’t have all the answers. Actually, lately I seem to have more questions than answers. But I do know a couple of things that are helping me navigate this season where I feel “stuck”. In season’s like these, we have to remind ourselves of what we know about God through our past experiences and place our focus there, rather than focus on our current feelings, circumstances, and all the questions we don’t have answers to. Here are a couple of things I have chosen to focus on:
1. God’s presence is enough. (Exodus 33:14, Psalm 73:28, Acts 3:19, Psalm 118:6, Colossians 1:17, Ephesians 4:6
I have a tendency to be somewhat legalistic in spiritual disciplines. These past weeks I have struggled with Bible reading and prayer. Seriously folks, I haven’t had the mental ability to focus on and comprehend even a single verse of scripture, much less try to read a chapter. And my prayers have seemed so weak and childlike. I haven’t been able to think clearly so it has been very difficult to find and form the words I want to say, making conversation difficult. This often left me feeling guilty because I knew of so many that needed urgent prayer, and yet I didn’t have the energy to pick up my sword of the Spirit and fight for them. Until this past week, mostly my prayers have been one sentence cries for help because that was all I could muster in my mind.
This left me feeling like I wasn’t being very “spiritual”. I had to constantly remind myself that God knows what we have need of even before we ask. He didn’t need to hear a long dialog, with Scriptures inserted in order to hear my prayer. He is with me and knows the condition I am in. I’ve had to tell myself daily that His Word is stored in my heart, even if my brain isn’t pulling the words up. I had to tell myself that I am a spiritual being, it’s who I am, not what I do, and is certainly not dependent on a legalistic approach to spiritual disciplines. Self-talk has been a vital discipline during this ordeal to help me keep moving forward and also to dispel the guilt I have felt. I’ve constantly had to make an intentional effort to rely on the truth that I know rather than rely on what I’m feeling at any given time.
One of those truths is God’s presence with us as we journey through the trials of life is enough to carry us through and help us overcome. In Him we have all we could ever need. I love Psalm 48:14:
For such is God, our God forever and ever; He will guide us until death.
Even in times we can’t feel Him, He is there. And He will never leave us, nor forsake us!
2. God makes everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
Here in the United States, we are wired to be productive. We are busy multitaskers, always moving toward a goal. Therefore, when something comes along and derails our plans, we often become impatient. I’ll be the first to admit, patience is NOT my strong suit. So, I have felt a lot of frustration struggling with these debilitating symptoms that are lingering even though I don’t feel sick. I feel like I need to be going, moving, and doing.
God has designed our bodies to require daily periods of rest in order to recuperate from exertion. And how much more our bodies need rest in times of sickness or stress in order to heal. Resting is not easy, especially when the world around us keeps moving, but it is a God-given gift. This has been difficult for me and again, has required a lot of self-talk. I have had to give myself permission to be unproductive and most importantly, I have had to consciously turn my trust to God. I have to trust that this season will pass and God will make everything beautiful once again. Again, I have to focus on God’s faithfulness in my past experiences- He has always come through for me!
The good news is light rays are beginning to break through the dark brain fog and I have even managed to make it several days this week without a nap. I’m not operating at 100% yet, but am doing much better. Just last week, I was incapable of writing a sentence, so having written this blog post feels like an absolute miracle. As I look out my window, I see a few leaves are turning, and I know in a week or so, the other leaves will come around and I will once again have a beautiful display of fall colors. I fully trust the same is happening in me! I have resolved to embrace this season as I find the balance between restorative rest and actively moving forward.
I would love to hear how you navigate times of feeling stuck. Share with us your ideas in the comment section below or on our Facebook Group, She Rises.