I have been silent here, mostly, over the last few months. I keep having things to say, or thoughts that are trying to get out of my head, but just haven’t been able to say them. And I’ve wanted to articulate so badly the why, the reason for the silence, but I haven’t had the words, and if you’re a words person you know that not having the words feels like a noose.
A few days ago one of my friends shared in a group that she hasn’t posted on her blog for months because she’s been struggling with depression and it’s killed her joy for the things she loves. She asked how to explain that to her blog readers, especially since she relaunched her blog right before hitting the ugly wall of depression. I told her, “Write down your story for you, not for your readers.” Because when you’re struggling with where to begin, sometimes the only thing you can do is begin where you’re at, right in the middle of the mess.
Hi. I’m Krista. I am starting in the middle of my mess.
The most simple way to tell you why I’ve been gone is because I’ve been gone because I’ve been apathetic, about everything it seems, but especially in my relationship with God, and when your blog is about you living a life full of purpose — well, apathy pretty much laughs in the face of purpose.
My reasons for apathy are complicated and personal. No one did anything terrible to me recently. In fact, 2015 was basically a banner year for me — had I tried, I could not have made it any more amazing. That is where things got dicey up in my heart, though. I couldn’t see that some old behaviors and thoughts were sneaking their way back in because there were so many great, big, amazing things happening that I didn’t bother to take care of myself and my soul. I was able to forget that those things matter because I had so much to look forward to, and then the end of the year came around and BAM. I felt like I had been smacked in my spirit by a thousand barbed sticks.
I’d been feeling snatches of this feeling for months, but it was fleeting and I always managed to push through it, so it took something big to make me see it for what it was. I knew in early January that something was going on, that my heart felt gross and not connected with God, but I still couldn’t name it.
It wasn’t until Sunday, when the message was about three attitudes toward God (adoration, anger, and apathy) that I realized what my deal was. I looked at God, and the Bible, and the Gospel, and my head and heart both went “Meh.” I believed those three things and I knew they were true, but I just didn’t care. Our pastor talked about how the wise men had to travel hundreds of miles to see Baby Jesus and they did it, but the religious leaders, who were only seven miles from Jesus and knew where the Messiah would be born because they knew the Scriptures, couldn’t be bothered to go. They had no passion to travel the short distance to see Jesus.
Sometimes lately I have been lacking the passion to pick up my Bible and read a few pages, to close out the distractions of the noisy world and spend a few minutes with God. It has felt like such a burden, and that is such a gross lie.
On Monday night, I met for the first time with someone who is now my mentor. It has been a long time coming (because I love to ask God for something, and when He gives me the same answer for 18 months in a row, I like to pretend that I didn’t hear Him and I flail and find myself in this apathetic place instead of growing) and I was telling her about how when I was in grad school, I freaked the heck out over getting an A- in my group counseling class because it would have prevented me from getting a 4.0 GPA, which was my goal. I emailed my advisor and then when she told me there was nothing she could do because grades are so subjective, I emailed the instructor and ranted to her about how I didn’t deserve an A-. I was trying to explain to my mentor that the older I get, the less I am like that young woman in grad school, striving for perfection, the more I can just be still and relax. It felt so right and so confident to say, but I realized something today: that is totally not true. That part of me is not turned off at all. I am still competitive and driven to perfectionism and I hate that I get so caught up in that.*
Realizing this has made me see something about my apathy that I couldn’t see before: I think I have been apathetic because I have longed more in the last few months for perfection with God rather than a real, healthy, intimate relationship with Him.
That makes me feel so gross to type, but it’s true.
When I first started coming to church, I constantly prayed that my pursuit of God wouldn’t become something that was focused on obtaining knowledge. Because I like school. In fact, I LOVE school. Although I am pretty sure I’ll never take more college classes, part of me looks back on my time in college and grad school with such nostalgia. I loved every stressful minute of research and reading and writing long papers, of spending hours with my fingers aching after typing and scrolling, my eyes crossing from the glare of the screen. I loved the ink that stained the side of my hand and the in-class essays for midterms. I loved it because I was so good at it. Being the best was hard, but I knew I could do it successfully every time. I could put my name on something beautiful that I made and no one would see the crap I was dealing with in my normal life.
Recently I read a journal I kept on my computer during this time. In it are snippets of letters of recommendations my bosses and professors wrote me for grad school and one of them blew me away. It said that I rarely talk about my story, that I simply accept the hand that I have been dealt and fail to give myself credit for the unfair disadvantage I came into life with.
It blew me away. I had never looked at my life story that way before, but those words must have had a great affect on me because it’s right around that time that a couple of things happened. One, not long after that I started earnestly following God again. Two, I began to talk about my story and I have refused to shut up about it. And three, I think I realized I needed to work through a lot of stuff. I don’t think it’s hyperbole when I say “a crapton of stuff.” I worked through so much of it with God by my side and He did some great work because I knew so desperately that I couldn’t change all of those things about myself — that I only had limited ability, but God’s ability was (and is!) limitless.
And now that I’ve gotten comfortable with the change He’s brought, I find myself slipping into an apathetic place. I see myself falling into my old ways where I don’t want to deal with stuff so I pile on the perfection. Except now I’m not in school anymore and I don’t have a place to funnel that desire to be perfect, so I put it on God. I’ll learn the verses, I think. I’ll learn the right things to say, I think. I’ll pray the right prayers with others, I think. And then none of this new stuff I need to deal with will come to light because I’ll just hide it really, really well.
Clearly that is a TERRIBLE PLAN because God is the one who sees through all of those sneaky things I do to make the world see that I’m good — yet somehow I tried to convince myself I could trick Him. He has shown me over the last week that my apathy is abundant when I use to be full of adoration.
So here I am. I’m working on some stuff to fix this funk. I’m telling God, “You do this. I can’t.” I am submitting to Him over and over, a thousand daily deaths, like it’s my only job. And it’s hard and messy and sometimes I cry (which doesn’t mean much because I’m wont to cry at pretty much anything!). I’m excited because I know that He does the hard work of repairing us. His Word is gonna do the things that I cannot. I read this last night in a Bible study I’m leading and once again I marveled at God’s perfect timing:
“God’s Word is a sword for battle and a scalpel to separate truth from lies in the most private places of our hearts.” — Open Your Bible
Come keep my company while God does His thing. Don’t know where to start? Just start in the middle of your mess. You are in good company.
*(In case you care, the teacher claims she made a mistake in entering the grade and she changed the grade to an A. But I was stressed out every day that I checked to see if the change had posted. And yes, I earned a 4.0. Guess what? I still have the same amount of debt as I would have had if I’d gotten a 3.0.)