Surviving the Slump
We've all been there. The Slump. Here's a post about how to get out of it! You can listen to the full audio of this talk presented at  Student Night on 10/11/17. The audio includes many more laughs and a commentary on brunch with Jesus.
October. The homeland of the Semester Slump. We've all been there--most of us are there right now! In August, we are all gung ho to make this our semester. This is it! This is my semester!! I'm going to go to bed early, get up early, workout, pray, drink more water!
Then September comes around and life happens. It's hot. The new seasons of all your favorite TV shows are starting. People are good looking. Alcohol is delicious. We limp our way into Fall Break, exhale, and then WAIT---we have to do this all over again until the end of the semester. Another telltale sign that you are in a slump is using words like "If I can just get through _______." Fill in the blank... this test, this project, this deadline, this month, this semester, this year... then... maybe then....
We Are Exhausted.
Even when we do get a little break. A long weekend. Some "extra" time. We waste it worrying about wasting it, or we fill it with catch up work, or we scroll the day away and get social media "refresh" thumb. Travel is a treat... but it is tiring, visiting family is beautiful... but it can be bring up emotional turmoil. And when we get "time away" we rarely use it as extra prayer time--we often seek out time away from our spiritual activities as well. We cannot find peace if we are not finding time for Jesus.
We Have the Don't Wants.
There is a certain amount of self-loathing that comes with the don't wants. Because it is a paralyzing place to be! Procrastination, living in survival mode, bargaining with yourself about how few hours of sleep you can actually survive on because you stayed up all night reading AskAuntKatie.com posts, and just a general neverending malaise. When I have the Don't Wants or the DWs/DDubs like we say in my office... that couch hole becomes really deep. I'm uncharitable and easily offended. YES, Netflix, I AM still watching! And I no longer want to show up for my responsibilities... deadlines get missed, due dates, putting up the laundry? HA.
Why does this happen?
I think it is a Three Step Process.
Step 1. We are tired. [See above. I'm too tired to type this again.]
Step 2. Apathy sets in. We skip this, we don't show up for that, we definitely aren't praying. When we are tired and apathy begins to set in, we become very susceptible to temptation. When we're tired, we don't remember how to say no. We seek out comforts because we "deserve this" or we're "bummed out" and just need a little something to give us a boost. Comforts we should be seeking in the Lord we find in unsavory places.
Step 3. We stop desiring the good. We let go of self-care, care of others, and we end up hopeless. We have a innate desire for God, therefore an innate desire for the good... but after we're in a slump we sort of quit caring about it after a while. We start saying "What's the point?" and we're on a fast track to despair.
These symptoms are the opposite of a holy life. The Saints were FULL OF DESIRE! The saints were bursting with it... striving, focused, goal-oriented--the goal being Heaven! The saints connected with the Lord through Prayer. No saint some how magically became a saint by skipping prayer. So how can we do more to pray? Let's turn to a modern day philosopher for a way out of the slump: Stop, Collaborate, and Listen.
That's right. Wise words, Vanilla. We have to STOP and pray when it crosses our minds. If we utter the words "Later" we will never do it. "Later" is a death sentence for our prayer lives. "Later" is like when your parents used to tell you "Maybe." Spoiler alert: It's not happening. STOP means we give the Lord 5 minutes right then and there. If you can't do 5, try 1. An Our Father usually takes about 20 seconds. Take a deep breath, spend 1 minute really praying that Our Father, and resume your activity. If we don't force ourselves into prayer sometimes we will never get out of the slump.
COLLABORATE. Father Jacques Philippe tells us in Called to Life, "The Spirit educates desire." If we are lacking in the desire for the good, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us. This takes time, but we have to start somewhere. Father Jacques Philippe goes on to say, "But we must be realistic. To educate one's desire is long, difficult work requiring struggle and renunciation inasmuch as the wound of sin has left desire disoriented and fragmented.
LISTEN. We do a lot of talking. I've been doing a lot of talking right now. When we stop and actually pray we have to also listen. Jesus has so much grace that He wants to give us, but we close ourselves off. And when we do finally sit down to pray we rattle off a list of intentions like an auctioneer. We have to also be quiet. Let the Lord love us.
Stop, Collaborate, and Listen ...may just get us out of the slump. Let's close by praying the words of Father Jacques Philippe from Called to Life:
Let us ask God to help us discern and undo our refusals to live.
Sin somehow is always such a refusal, though it takes many forms: lack of hope, attachment to cramped projects, rejection of suffering, turning away from God and others, failure of confidence in the unique grace that accompanies our existence.
Let us love and accept our lives--not imaginary lives--but the ones God offers us day by day, uncovering hidden riches for us as He does.
I don't know about you, but I need to go pray, I'm missing out on some amazing grace!