Sunday, 11 May 2014

Shifting the cloud.

Yesterday was a 'blah' day. I felt rotten and couldn't shift it. I don't know why but I woke up feeling very sorry for myself. I had no motivation for anything, I resented my role as a pastor, bemoaned the difficulty of trying to share the gospel with people and slumped into a sofa staring into the middle distance at any opportunity. Days like this aren't uncommon but they haven't been as regular an occurrence as they used to be. In the past a moody day like this has turned into a moody week and in some cases I've been racked with doubts and anxieties about faith for weeks or months at a time. On this occasion, that isn't the spiral I went down. Instead I was thrilled to find that only 48hrs later I was back to trusting God and pursuing him in prayer.

How I got out of this pit:

a prayer meeting : 
That evening I was due to lead a prayer meeting. I didn't want to. When it was time to begin, I still didn't want to and once the prayer mtg was going, I didn't want to be there. I wanted to leave, but I didn't; I prayed and led as best I knew how to and I told the group about how I was feeling. Some friends prayed for me. Nothing shifted there and then but it certainly helped.

a devotional Bible study in Gal. 3:13
I'm studying Galatians in preparation for a days teaching I'm doing on it on Impact but this morning I thought I'd use it as my devotional guide. I read about how Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law and I realised that I'm cursed whenever I look to anything to justify me or emotionally satisfy me other than Christ. I had been feeling low ever since church and realised that my feeling was due, in part, to my looking to ministry to fulfil me. Anyone who looks to anything in that way, is cursed Galatians tells us - and Jesus came to take our curse upon himself. I started to feel the cloud lift.

telling Amy what I read in the devotional
Writing my reflections in my study journal helped but speaking them out, even in a brief 30sec conversation helped more. Putting into words what I discovered in the Bible and hearing myself say it, made it real and brought me further freedom.

a conversation with Amy in which we both revealed similarly self-destructive thoughts
We'd both been feeling pretty low and had separately been contemplating the probability of personal tragedy in our lives. The contemplation led to us both feeling slightly more anxious and hopeless about life. The significance of us talking about this was that it opened me up to the possibility that this mood and moment was something other than just 'bad pizza' it was spiritual. The enemy was trying to intimidate us and once I see traces of him at work - it motivates me to act!

a meeting with the elders in which I told them how I felt
In our review of the weekend meeting scheduled for the day after my dip I told them how I felt. I was honest about my feelings of utter inadequacy and my insecurities about 'not being the leader I think the church needs'. They encouraged me and tried to strengthen me. I felt better after this. I had 'breathed out' enough of the junk that I could now 'breath in' some life giving truth again without my heavy mood simply batting it away.

reading some accounts of the power of prayer
The afternoon was spent preparing a sermon for the weekend. As part of my research I read about accounts of God moving in revival in response to prayer. I was strengthened by the reminder that God works powerfully and that prayer, whether by few or many, is powerful. My heart began to sing again as my mood finally lifted.

being reminded that God is engaging with me and weaving a story with my life
This was a major part of what I was preparing to preach on and it was thrilling that before I preached it to the church, it did its work on me as well. I am part of a story, God's story. I'm playing my part as a loved and accepted child, and as someone who needs to learn from him as I go through all of life.
Nothing is wasted, nothing is inconsequential.

Those are some of the key turning points for me in throwing off a feeling that could have lasted all week if I'd have let it. The thing features in it I think are:
'exhale' junk honestly and vulnerably with close friends where possible.
'inhale' truth and find ways of getting it to 'do its work' whether through journalling, speaking it out or reading it carefully.

I know that this experience isn't typical for most people since most people aren't given the luxury of reading great truth in preparation for a sermon but I'm sure there are probably some tools in there that can be useful to people.

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