Written by Tyler Wright. Media by Jonathan Bremer.
There are times, even on a thriving Christian campus when anyone might hit a rough patch. No one is exempt from this notorious slump. Right around this time of year, the busyness of the new semester sets in and the winter weather leaves us with far less energy. The motivation from the new year has curbed and any forward momentum seems to have stalled like a student driver on a stick-shift. Mentally, it becomes hard to focus. Physically, it gets hard to stay awake or stay active. Emotionally, we constantly feel drained, short-tempered, or closed off towards others. Spiritually, we may feel empty like God is far away.
But what if God isn’t far away, we’re not so dysfunctional as we suspect, and joy can be chosen even on the darkest of days? If you find yourself caught in one of those rough patches, and a cup of coffee or night of relaxation isn’t the only fix you need, take a look at these tips to get through and make the most of a slump.
- Don’t isolate yourself.
- When energy comes at a premium and stress abounds, it can be tempting to close off, even from your closest friends. When you find yourself saying, “I just don’t know what’s wrong with me,” it can be easy, but dangerous to put up walls. If you think you may be in one of those funks, do the counterintuitive thing and tell a trusted friend. Somewhere in the midst of the busyness, schedule a hangout time with friends. We are not meant to live in next-door isolation with our community, but to bear one another’s burdens.
- Remember the stories of God.
- This can mean many things. It would certainly be helpful to remember the stories in Scripture about all the ways God provided for His people, even amidst their greatest doubts and darkness. It is important to see the recorded stories of how God is the business of leading people through wandering and confusion into rest and peace. But sometimes, it may be impactful to think simply about your own life. Are there stories of times when the situation seemed dire and hopeless? Yet by grace and mercy, God has led you to where you are today! If you’re in that place of darkness today, keeping these stories in mind helps to remind you that God is leading you to peace and rest.
- Create a rhythm.
- One of the worst things about slumps is the apparent lack of structure and stability. Granted, in American culture, we’re far too attached to our illusions of certainty and control, but regularity simply is a good feeling. Find something small that you can commit to doing every single day, and do it. Maybe it’s making breakfast every morning, or getting a cup of coffee while sitting and reading some Scripture or another book. Possibly pray at a certain time every day. Creating a rhythm brings some stability to your slump which helps ease the internal tension.
- Remember your faith and emotions are not necessarily inclusive.
- Your faith and emotions do not have to dictate one another. Often, at the high points of our faith, we feel happy and at low points, feel stressed or sad. Scary enough, it’s also possible to feel totally happy and oblivious when our faith is nowhere to be found. But it is quite possible, common, and totally normal to feel sad and stressed when our faithful discipline is just fine. Don’t panic!
- Choose your position, even though you can’t always choose your circumstances.
- Circumstance happens. Many things influence them and bring them about. Often, you simply cannot choose how your life will go on a given day. What you can choose is your position. You can choose a patient, faithful, calm attitude even on the worst days. This is called joy – a place of confidence in the power and faithfulness of God, no matter the situation. This is available for you to pray for and choose, every single day!
So pray for yourselves and those around you who may be in a certain kind of slump. Know those people need a patient friend. Through prayer and the joy of the Lord, we will see bright days again!