Thursday, January 10, 2013

When You Have a Case of the Doldrums

Do you ever feel like a pendulum? One moment you’re filled with thankfulness for God’s good gifts, and the next moment you’re complaining? One day you’re excited about life, and the next day you’re in the doldrums? This January I feel like a pendulum.

Excited About Life

One of my favorite things to do at the turn of each year is to look back and reflect on the year behind me.  As I looked back over 2012 in December, I was amazed and filled with gratitude over God’s blessings:

  • A wonderful furlough: We had the best time ever with family and friends.
  • Tres Dias Retreat: God spoke several things to my heart at this life-changing event.
  • The marriage of my sister to a wonderful man: a longing fulfilled after years of praying.
  • Growth in our team and in our church plant: After a year and a half of starting slow in hard mslm soil, we turned a corner!  God added a new couple, whom we desperately needed, to our team and a new believing local couple to the fellowship. The flavor of our meetings became more joyful and encouraging with more believers and frequent visitors.

The month of December was a time to thank God and celebrate these gifts.

Suffering a case of the doldrums

But as January starts, I find myself getting into a rut. Gifts that seemed so wonderful and awe-inspiring now seem common place as I start to take them for granted.
  • Our furlough and wonderful connections with family and friends seem long ago.
  • I don’t see my sister quite as often now that she’s married. (Of course!)
  • Planting a new fellowship is still a “three steps forward, two steps back” ministry.

Real life rears its head. Home school starts back with a vengeance after the vacation, and I struggle to keep the house clean and cook. My kids are dealing with issues related to school and living in Turkey, and I feel unsure of how to support them. The ministry I was encouraged about last fall looks daunting now. And pretty soon I am stuck in the doldrums.  How do I get out?

That’s when it’s time to "breathe deep, take the next step and keep thanking God."***

Last Friday, I decided to be proactive to combat my January doldrums. I called several people to encourage them even though I felt discouraged myself.  Despite the cold, I went on a walk and got out in the sunshine. I started thanking God for everything I could think of.  I reviewed a memory verse: “Let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.  Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs…making music to the Lord in your hearts. And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father...” (Ephesians 5:18-20 NLT) 

I took a deep breath and said, “I can do this. I can focus on today and praise God and give Him thanks. I can embrace the life He’s giving me today.” And pretty soon I felt different. More hopeful. More joyful.

What do you do to combat a case of the doldrums?

***Note: This phrase is a quote from A Holy Experience, but I can't find the exact link now.


Phyllis said...

THANK YOU! I am absolutely in the doldrums. Ugh. So tired, so overwhelmed, my whole family sick.... I'll start by being thankful that I'm well!

I don't know how to answer your question about what to do, but just reading this was an encouragement. I think I'll work on my thanksgiving list now. And I will go for a run this afternoon.

OliveTree said...

Hang in there, Phyllis! The only good thing about the doldrums is that sooner or later, they have to leave!

~Karen~ said...

I have a cold that I can't seem to get rid of, so I've been stuck inside. Between that and the endless overcast sky, I have very little energy.

I think that knowing that this too, will pass, helps, like Olive said. :) I'm trying to do a few things to help myself - eating right,taking my vitamins, getting enough rest, doing some stretches and exercises indoors, reading, family time, and praying for and encouraging others.
I also try to sit near the window, even on the overcast days. That little bit of light can and does help! :)

OliveTree said...

Sitting by an open window is a great idea, and remember that "This too shall pass." That's one of my favorite watch words! I hope you're feeling better soon, Karen.