On Funks and Humanness

I’ve been in a funk for days now. One of those unjustified funks. You know the type, where you can’t really name what it is that has you so irritable? Sure, a good guess would be that I’m not setting my heart on the things above and I am getting bogged down in world (past, present and future). This malaise has had me unwilling to “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3). This uneasiness has me stuck in place. And the place ain’t pretty.

The recent celebration of Easter should have given me heightened awareness of the power of his resurrection. That power gave us our own resurrection. Right?  (Eternal life and abundant life, here and now).  That power has even given us the ability to participate in his sufferings without losing hope.  Resurrection life is not one of the products of funks.  Hope is not one of the products of funks. Nor is thankfulness.

I’ve got a boat load full of things to be thankful for in my present circumstances. Those things are not getting the attention I’m giving my worries. Whether I name my mood a funk or a malaise or unease or irritability, it’s interesting how something so paralyzing can light a fire to worry.

As I catch myself worrying, I’m fully aware that there have been times in the not too distant past, where I thought I had a handle on worry. Every little saying and every verse from scripture on worrying made perfect sense to me! I confidently thought that I knew the bottom line: worrying is useless. Well, woe to me whenever I think I’ve got a handle on something!

Pressing on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of me takes holding onto nothing but Jesus. Allowing myself to be stuck in this funk has been a choice to not take hold of Jesus. It has felt like emotional paralysis, but the truth of Easter is Jesus made me a participant in His resurrection. His resurrection is my resurrection. There is no paralysis in that truth.

So, I haven’t been fully living in the truth. I’ve been kicking around in gutters and behaving like I don’t have the legs to step up to the sidewalk and move on.

I do have those figurative legs. But when I go too long without opening my Bible or get sloppy with my prayers, those legs get weak. It’s really no surprise that I let time go by without doing something I know benefits me. As much as I love going for walks I often don’t take the time to go. No rationale. Just human.

I think I’ll sit with those last two words for a moment. There’s grace in those words — just human. So, I’ve been in a funk for days now. It’s passing. I’m human. And this human has hope. This human has Jesus.  This human has resurrection power.

Hebrews 2:17-18  For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Things I Say That May Be False

A list of things I say that may be false is coming to my mind at a rapid rate!

When I don’t get something I want: “He’s got something better for me”.

When I’m worried about finances: “He’s always provided for us in the past so he’ll provide in our future”.

When I fear the direction our society is headed: “He’s in control”.

When someone I love is struggling: “You can do this”.

All of the above may be partial truths, but they are also partial falsehoods. They shouldn’t be taken on face value.

That house I wanted? The house I end up in may not check off as many boxes on my list of desires. But, God can make it better for me in his promise to grow me up and use me for his purposes.

That retirement we’ve pursued? It may come sooner than we hoped and our budget may be tighter than we hoped. But, God never breaks a promise. He will provide us with the ability to be content. It’s up to us to seek and use that ability.

The direction our society is headed? Apart from God, it’s never headed in the right direction. And a few truths come to mind: there will always be people who choose to be apart from God; even those of us who’ve invited Jesus to live in us, still have our moments (or seasons) when we choose to be apart from God; God can control anything, but He chose to give us free will; He’s told us the last days are not going to be pretty.

That loved one who is struggling? They may continue to struggle for far longer than we’d hoped. They may always struggle with the challenges they live in. But, none of us are meant to live by our own power. We’re all meant to cooperate with Jesus. On their own, they can’t “do this” well.

It scares me a bit that I can so quickly think of things I say that may be false. Jesus, forgive me for the times I’ve led others astray. Holy Spirit please continue to show me my wrong thinking and help me to hold my tongue.

“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”  Psalm 25:5

Desperate For (Because of) Help

I stepped out onto the sidewalk in front of our building and was instantly filled with, all’s right with the world, take a deep breath, take in the beauty of spring, the endorphins are coming, joy! I picked up my pace and was a short block from my home when I realized that I hadn’t put on my FitBit. This is when the craziness tried to sidetrack me from my joy! “Oh bummer,” I thought, “I won’t get my step count for this walk. Should I go back?”

And just as quickly I thought, “If I’m a slave to the things that are suppose to HELP me, Lord help me from the help”!

Geez! Our gizmos and gadgets can become the ends rather than the means. I asked for the FitBit as a gift to motivate me into a healthier lifestyle. And, I thought it would just be fun to know how much I actually walk on my favorite paths. Setting a goal of 10,000 steps a day has become the latest health fad. But 10,000 steps isn’t the prize itself. It’s a goal meant to help me reach the prize(s). The prizes for me are greater health and being renewed by the beauty of the great outdoors.

Have you ever set goals with your spiritual life? Maybe you’ve decided you’ll read through the Bible in one year or start out each morning with prayer. Maybe you’ve thought of helpful strategies like avoiding your phone and computer when you first wake up, so that you’re not distracted away from that goal to read scripture or start the day with prayer. Those strategies can feel empowering! But Lord help us when we receive an important call as soon as we wake or we oversleep and have to rush off to an appointment! Suddenly our strategies meant to help us, just serve to shame us or discourage us.

The purpose of any spiritual discipline should be greater intimacy with Jesus. When we start emphasizing the way(s)/means to that intimacy we’ll start behaving as if all is lost and believing we’re not going to reach the ends unless we’re a slave to the means. The helpful truth is that choosing to turn to God when my day is not going in the way I planned often brings me closer to him than a smooth morning which goes as I planned.

So, I didn’t turn around for the FitBit. I took another deep breath, continued listening to an inspiring podcast, continued enjoying the blooming trees of Spring, and lo and behold, the spiritual and physical endorphins came to the rescue! The weather even cooperated by sprinkling a cooling mist on me as I explored new neighborhoods.

I’d like to stay aware when help is making me helpless.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21