Apathy – lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern; detachment. Can be associated with depression.
This, unfortunately, describes my current state of being. I’ve actually been stuck here for quite some time. The funny thing is that apathy, for me, isn’t a result of me not caring, or being unconcerned about things.
Quite the opposite: it is a result of being burdened so heavily that my mind has now decided to compartmentalize everything painful, so that I can actually function, somewhat, every day. I wouldn’t say I even feel all that functional, but I’m getting the main things done, and I’m not falling apart in the process, so, that’s something.
Apathy can be a means of self-protection – at least, that’s what my counselor tells me, and I think she is right. Some of my more religious friends will say, at this point, that self-protection is a sin…or really close to it. I’m toeing the line between letting God be God, and trying to be my own God and my own savior. I just need to have the right kind of faith and all will be well.
These are the same people who won’t let people have any negative emotions, such as anger or fear or grief. I have zero interest in what they have to say, in case there is a question in your mind, and will give zero attention to that kind of talk. It is not reality based and it isn’t even Bible based (see the entire book of Psalms).
You don’t manage “negative” emotions by outlawing them. That just drives them underground and announces to others that you are not a safe person to talk to. There are better ways to handle them, which I won’t get into today.
The truth is that it is God who made us and designed us with the ability to manage and survive trauma and difficulties. We don’t want to stay in these places forever (places like apathy, detachment, dissociation, anger) but they serve a purpose. They divide up the load so that we don’t become overwhelmed, and then piece by piece, when the time is right, we are able to unpack and let Him help us figure out what to do with each part.
He heals them, He grieves them with us, He repairs cracks, He might throw one as far as the east is from the west, and He might want us to hold another one close, to be used in our own ministry to others.
What I’m saying, in a sort of unclear way, is that I have had a hard few years. I have experienced a certain kind of trauma – religious/spiritual trauma (that may or may not make sense to some of you, and at some point I might take a deeper dive into it, but for now I’ll just leave it at that). There are major relationship struggles. There are things from my childhood which I thought were not a big deal, which actually affected the trajectory of my life and my ability to trust people. I have concerns about a couple of our kids and am trying to understand their individual needs and how to meet those needs.
Basically, everything feels really heavy.
Sometimes I feel guilty for my inability to put on a front or say all the right Jesus-y things. My programming tells me I should be doing better by now. I should be looking better. Chin up! You’re making the Gospel of Jesus look bad!
But, what is the Gospel of Jesus? Did He come to make me less bad? Did He come to make me a better faker? To give me a new false self? What is the good news?
The good news is that Jesus has come. God revealed Himself to us in the flesh. We saw what He is like. There is a new kingdom available, here, now. He didn’t just die so we could go to heaven. He came to be with us. We still need Him to be with us, even though His work is done. (This paragraph isn’t meant to be a complete dissertation on the Gospel. Thank you in advance for understanding.)
This ain’t heaven, y’all. This is what I like to call, “the Crapside of Eternity” (consider that phrase copyrighted, because I have plans for it ;). Kind of irreverent, but it’s true. Crap still happens here. And God is still good. There’s more than one kingdom at work in this vast universe. There’s the kingdom of God, and then there’s everything else – the darkness we all are very aware exists. They sit right alongside each other.
He didn’t fix every broken thing. Christians are all just a bunch of people in the process of becoming more like Him. We aren’t there yet. And, Jesus told us – we will suffer. That is part of what it is to become like Him. It’s part of the process.
So, in my process of suffering, I could waste time feeling guilty for being apathetic (which I have). For feeling numb. For wanting to quit everything, and run away, sometimes. For wanting to hide.
I can keep wondering why it won’t go away, even though I’m doing all the right things.
Or I can ask Him to be with me in it. I can trust Him to be a safe place to go. I can relax and take my time, and surrender to the process, because something is being worked out in me. I can trust God’s timing.
I can remember that He has experienced what I experience. I can trust that He is not mad at me, but wanting to walk me through to the other side of it. I can believe He will use this in a unique way in my ministry to other people. I can believe He is forming me.
There are very few quick fixes in this life. We have go through things to get through them. There is no shortcut.
I am incredibly uncomfortable in this place. It isn’t fun, and sometimes I feel less-than because I’m here. And, also, it won’t last forever. I believe that.
I share all of this because I know I’m not the only one.
If you find yourself in a similar place, or in depression, or anxiety, or whatever, don’t be a hero. Find the support you need. Pray, listen to music, go for a walk, sit in the sunshine, talk to friends, find a counselor, and yes, you might need support, for a time, from medication. There is no shame in that. I don’t care what anybody says.
Just don’t give up. Do what is necessary. Take care of yourself. You’re the only one who can make decisions for you.
And, remember, God is good and He is with us in every circumstance.