Last Friday, I had one of those days. I just was not feeling it. I did not want to spend time with God. I did not want to pray or read the Bible. I was grumpy, “sideways” with people, selfish and self-centered. And I was fully aware of it.
Ever feel like that – when you’re not feeling it?
I know that most of our Whole Life Worship blogs are positive and upbeat. Sometimes we deal with issues of darkness. But seldom do we look at those days that are “just a little off.” And, I think that those types of days come our way more often than not.
Without going into the psychology of “why” we have those days, I want to look at ways we can deal with it. So what do we do when we’re not feeling it?
The first reaction is either to change it right away or to ignore it altogether. I think there is something better: noticing it and naming it.
One of the amazing aspects of the Psalms is how well the Psalmist notices his emotions and names them. Whether it is positive, negative, joyful, sad, upbeat, angry, discouraged, distressed, overwhelmed, disgusted, hopeful, or hanging on by a thread, the Psalms aptly identify – not fix or ignore – our human emotions. The Psalmist understood that noticing and naming emotions helped him to understand his soul and what he really wanted to ask of God.
The second reaction usually makes a decision about spiritual disciplines: either to do them (by going through the motions) or not do them (because going through the motions seems phony).
Again, I propose something a little different, which is, to “do something different.”
While routines are good (because they produce rhythms), sometimes we need to take a break from routine. So if your usual practice is to sit at your desk while you pray and read the Bible, why not go outside and take a walk around the block? Or sometimes I just need a 5 minute power nap (a lot of my grumpiness comes from fatigue and stress), before I engage with God.
I believe it is important, when we’re not feeling it, that we engage it with God. The temptation is to avoid God, which is precisely what the Devil wants us to do. Ignoring or turning away from God, even when we’re not feeling it, is unwise and can be dangerous. Taking a break from God can turn into a “habit” where we base our relationship with God on our emotions, rather than on our covenant commitment (which He paid for with His blood and we respond to with our lives). Worse, it can lead us down a dark path to poor decisions and sin (believe me, I know this from experience – and I think you do, too).
Some of my most significant encounters with God took place when I was “not feeling it.” It required me to turn to God and ask Him, “Lord, I’m not feeling it. What’s up with that?” More often than not, I’ll write in my journal. It’s always hard at first; the words don’t flow too well when I’m not feeling it. But as I start getting it out (my emotions and thoughts, the circumstances, details that seemed insignificant at the time but become prominent as I reflect on them, questions that I have for God) the Spirit eventually leads me to those places where I need His touch.
And, nine times out of ten, I start to “feel” it again.
Of course, there are those “dark nights of the soul” (seasons where you don’t feel anything that usually precedes profound spiritual growth and transformation), but that’s for another conversation.
Oh, one last thing. It’s always good to contact a spiritual friend when you’re not feeling it. Their prayers and encouragement might be the boost you need to move forward in the journey of Whole Life Worship.