Finding time for God

I am too busy for my faith. It’s a controversial thing to say really, as I profess to be a committed and faithful Christian lady who loves God with her whole heart, and is grateful beyond words for Jesus and his saving death on the cross. However, I am too busy for my faith.

This does not mean it has gone anywhere, it means I am in a place where, quite frankly, I don’t have the energy to pray, read the bible, or talk to God. I am finding this current state of being exceptionally frustrating, mostly because the intensity of what I believe and the depth to which I believe it has not changed. I don’t doubt the existence of God, the fact that Jesus came to earth as man and died on the cross creating the opportunity for us to meet with God and have relationship with him. I believe it, I just don’t seem able to reach any sort of emotion about it.

It is a fantastical story, and Christmas has been a time of recognising just how huge the story is. However, despite the apparent absurdity of it I just can’t be bothered to give it the time it deserves. I can sit there and say that I miss it, but it doesn’t mean I do anything to change it. I am lazy.

The thing I doubt more than anything is myself. See the question is now in my head, how am I depressed? I know the story – it’s an illness, which means that it could happen to anyone. However, I have everything I want. I am happy and loved, and yet here I am, at the lowest I have felt in a very long time, with nothing seemingly able to shift it for over 2 months.

Am I just in dreamland? Creating some form illness in order to get away with being exceptionally lazy when it comes to coping?

I know the answer is no, but the longer this goes on with no improvement to my health despite my life getting better and better the more I feel like a fraud. This feeling has helped me to retreat. Church (this is any church, not a particular one) is where I feel the worst. I cannot sit still for the length of a service without getting anxious, so often I find a reason not to go. You feel slightly foolish if you are getting up and down 3 or 4 times in the length of time a toddler can sit still, and can’t help but feel people will be questioning your attentiveness, ability to listen and how committed you really are.

I have pulled back from a lot of my friends, not because I don’t want to see them, but because contact just seems like such an effort. How can you say ‘I can’t be bothered to call you’ without it offending? I am planning the wedding, and enjoying it mostly, and then going to work – and enjoying that. Then spending time with Mike and my family and that is all I can muster.

In the midst of all of this frustration, irritation, laziness and exhaustion I just don’t feel like going to God. What will he do? He will comfort me – he always does and I will come away feeling stronger, but no better. I am tired of being strong. I want to be weak or I want to be free and ‘better’ whatever that means.

I don’t really know what I want to say here. I don’t think I have a huge point to make. Other than the fact that in the midst of it all I know that there is hope to come. I don’t know what it will look like, or when it will come, but despite not talking to God, not spending time with him I know he is there. He is just sitting with me in silence.

20140106-141936.jpg I am looking forward to when I have the energy to find time for God, but in the meantime I will just get on with each day knowing he is with me and waiting patiently, with huge love as I plod on in frustrated depression. I do get the odd little glimmer of hope though. Whilst walking in the garden I came across this snow drop. I like flowers, they talk to me of a creative, imaginative and excited God, full of colour and delight. Seeing this just sitting amongst some very young grass in the middle of the winter, having survived the storms over Christmas spoke of hope to me. In the dark there is something that can bring the tiniest bit of light. Perhaps even enough to get you through a day.

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49 Comments

  • Such a tremendous piece of honesty here that I know many Christians can relate to. There s something so freeing about being self aware. It’s important to recognise your weaknesses as well as your strengths. It’s times like these that you acknowledge who you are… But more importantly WHOSE you are!
    Keep praising him throughout this storm, for this too shall pass.
    Peace be with you.
    Emmanuel. God WITH us
    Xx

  • “in the meantime I will just get on with each day knowing he is with me and waiting patiently” – sometimes this is precisely what discipleship looks like.

  • Excuse me if I ramble, I’m trying to think through a headache and it’s like wading through treacle.
    Sometimes I think depression is like having your brain unbearably busy and full of stuff, all sorts of stuff, and so it reduces what you can do. So that is when we need the body of Christ, so that someone who does have the brain space/energy can pray for us, can share one digestible piece of truth and encouragement, one verse. For the Bible I am finding David Suchet’s new audiobook of the Bible good for tired soaking the the Bible times, it’s on audible and I think is the best Bible audiobook I’ve ever heard.
    I’m sure no one minds you not being able to stay put at church, I find it makes me very anxious, Roger Carswell (who writes books and preaches and things) once spoke at our CU at uni about his depression and being unable to stay in church for ages.
    You can only do what you are able, I am trying so hard to learn this right now, I want to be powering off into the new year boldly trying new things and my body wants to sleep and sleep.
    Thank you for the reminder that God is there through it all, with us, Emmanuel – another message from Christmas.

  • A very honest piece – thank you for being so real and open.

    I recognise so much of this – for several years until this summer I found myself disconnected from God, but I knew He was there all the time.

    I went to Church each Sunday – but that was the only time I could pray. Those prayers mainly consisted of apologies for not praying since the last Sunday, which meant I couldn’t get to the heart of what I wanted to say, and it was a downhill spiral.

    What changed? Well it wasn’t forced – my only advice would be to keep an open mind and know God will keep trying ways to connect with you, and finally you’ll be able to see a crack in the door he opens. Keep pushing that door open and things will improve.

    For me it was a visit to a Cathedral (not a religious visit particularly – an architectural visit with an atheistic friend), and I got a sense something was different. God kicked me out of my comfort zone a little, and the more I let him into my life the more easy it became. I now bookend my days with the Daily Office, and praying any time of the day – in many ways – is a joy. If you’d told me this would be the case six months ago I’d have never believed you.

    That’s the great thing about God – he finds us and, as long as we’re listening, we can connect with him as easily as with a closest friend. When you look back on this period you’ll see ways in which you’re connected to God that you don’t even realise now, and how often you turned to him and he helped you – perhaps without you knowing.

  • Great post. Many of us end up sacrificing the urgent (God, friends, healthy time for onesself) at the altar of the urgent. Don’t know if you’ve read any St Ignatius, but his stuff (or rather the stuff which comes from his works) speaks to me a lot about the spirals of consolation and desolation – about how things can feel tighter, and quicker in desolation than they sometimes do in consolation. There’s a page about it here.
    http://www.loyolapress.com/discernment-consolation-and-desolation.htm

    Well done for writing this, and thank you.

  • My husband once said, when I was very down and asked him why he stuck with me, when I was no longer the person he married, that he still loved me, and would wait until the person he married came back. That gave me huge encouragement then, and I would imagine God would say the same to you.

  • When one is clinically depressed, this often presents as a form of lassitude/inability to undertake anything, whether potentially pleasant or not. Sometimes this is more than the victim can deal with – and that’s where medical science comes in. Hope you find a way out and an increased awareness of God!

  • Thank you for this. It resonated with me a lot, and it’s so encouraging to know that I’m not the only one who knows they love Jesus but feels pretty disconnected at the moment! (I know that’s not the case, but it can definitely feel like it sometimes…) This is when we just have to trust in Jesus and in His promise that He will never leave us, and that He could never love us any more or less, whatever we do (or don’t do). Thank you again – this has made my day (and possible week).

  • Remember the Pharisee in the Temple – “I’m so holy I do all this stuff unlike the low-life next to me” And which one is favoured in the sight of the Lord? Not the one boasting about all his holy “business”.
    I have also had a very dark 18 months – I’m a Lay Minister (Reader) and I completely empathise with what you’ve gone through. It’s very tough. I resigned ministry in Sept 2012 and haven’t yet felt able to return.
    Remember we are justified by faith, not works. Praying and Bible reading will come back. Mine haven’t yet but I live in hope.

  • Absolutely right! God is always there and eventually you will find the energy you need!

    Knock and the door shall be opened!

    Good luck

  • Thankyou for sharing. I believe God wants to know the good, bad and the ugly parts of us – part of the problem I believe is we are taught to pray and worship with a smile on our faces, when in reality God wants us to shout, cry, swear, and communicate with Him so that we share every part of ourselves with him,
    This means is fine to not feel like praying etc, tell God exactly that and simply say “look God I love you but I dont feel like spending time with you or anything, infact I feel like crap right now. thankyou for loving me anyways, speak soon” etc etc
    anyways probably talking rubbish so ignore me,

  • Bless you Katharine! Indeed God is always there, He is constant and He knows our circumstances even if others do not and can be vulnerable to prejudice. Peace.

  • Depression is so very exhausting and God understands that. I recognise so much of what you so honestly describe from my times of real depression. Church was the hardest place to be – I couldn’t cope with it. Family and close friends who prayed for me when I couldn’t were a gift from God. I did alot of desperate ‘arrow’ prayers and wordless cries to God – I didn’t have the emotional energy for anything else. I didn’t feel close to God but can look back and see he was there. Don’t pile pressure and guilt on yourself – try to rest in the promises and love of God. Hope you feel better soon.

  • So many of us suffer depression. There is no “answer” that’s easy to put down on paper. The Psalms appear to echo the dreadfullness of the condition. My thought for the day is that at the wedding at Cana, it was said that the host had kept the best wine til last. I am older now and after 35 years of travail, the wine is certainly tasting sweeter!

  • Thank you for writing this. I see huge hope and a way out in every line that you have written. I want to encourage you that even by ring bothered to write, you are doing more than you may understand. Depression is hole which runs deep in the mind, and one of the ways to begin to climb out of that hole is to understand that the devil wants you to become ignorant of the hope that is around you and within your grasp. In other words, don’t just use God as the comforter, ask Him to show you what a warrior He is! I think He is waiting for us to claim ground in His name. Your ground might be the grabbing of the good hope that hangs down like a life line in the hole, and saying I will not just sit here anymore, God is strong and mighty to save, and He will pull me out. Even if you struggle for a whole to see the change, you training your mind to believe that this will happen is! God Bless

  • You have just described my life for most of last year to a tee. Extraordinary. Thanks for sharing and I hope you feel better soon. It’s good to know others go through exactly the same, helping me accept it’s an illness and not just me being lazy etc.. for me anti depressants and psychotherapy are helping enormously. Still too busy for God though, which I need to change.

  • Thank you Katharine. I too have been there. But I think God speaks in the snowdrop and the flowers; in the love of family. Simple and profond messages without words. And He hears the words in your heart and the true message of your blog.

    Great love means sometimes sitting with someone in silence. Only someone who know us, and loves us deeply can do that with joy and understanding. God does not put upon is the demands of this world, or indeed of ourselves

  • I have depression and anxiety and am SO scared about going back to church. Not least because others can’t tell. Or can they? It’s challenging to have a story that’s different to what culture tells us experiences of church should be like. There’s something vulgar about needing God. But that’s how I feel. High emotion and no emotions don’t fit into the Sunday slot easily.

    On a more hopeful note, your TV interview, via Mind, was recently featured in a lecture series from John Hopkins University, through Coursera, as part of a taught course called, “Major Depression in the Population: A Public Health Approach.” The clip fitted in well with the week’s themes and was refreshingly human amongst all the science and epidemiology. As someone who has depression, I could recognise myself in your story and was surprised by the compassion I felt toward me. It would be great to find a church with the same attitude.

  • Katherine, we hear the cry of your heart and all I know is that ‘church’ is good, but taking yourself outside church to listen to the lost, the poor, the lonely, the sick and dying and the TRULY faithless, will reveal to you the heart of Jesus again.(this worked for me, as I am now a member of the ‘Canterbury Healing on the streets’ prayer team. (canterburyhots@facebook.com) H.O.T.S is a cross denominational outreach prayer ministry that can also heal the team members as they step out to pray for a hurting world. We Christians are called to step out in faith even when we feel faithless! Reading Robby Dawkins book ‘Do what Jesus did’ could also put that fire back in your life!
    Blessings, Steve

  • In the emptiness and in the doubt that is where our saviour reached out to meet us
    May the blessings of this new year search out you and your family

  • Hi Katharine! I’ve been through feelings i feel are similar to yours. When i was in my teens i had huge problems with family and friends and the future that made me self harm. It changed the way people interacted with me, people called me a “sell out” and generally laughed and looked down on me. Aside from the meanness of those people though i know life is a wonderful creation and there is beauty yet to be beheld. I feel that the pursuit of God is the way to see the beauty in the future, but it is just so hard sometimes not to have faith in God, and hard to resist temptation. I know though that God has work for us to do in our time on Earth, maybe together people like us can make the world more bearable and loving place!

  • When the paralysed man needed to get to Jesus, he was carried by friends. I too have been ‘carried’ by friends (stretcher bearers) at times of being paralysed by any number of things, and now thankfully, can repay the gift. I would suggest that your family and true friends are carrying you also until you regain strength, which I am sure you will. My thoughts and prayers are with you

  • Dear Catherine

    I love your honesty I believe you are similar to me.
    When you think,reflect and question this is communication, kinda with yourself but also with God as he is alive inside you.
    Questioning is good, doubts are part of our journey but always hang on to hope.
    Be patient and kind with yourself.

    When you feel like reading the bible again 1 Corinthians 13 is always kind.

    Remember God is rich in mercy and always faithful
    Just keep on asking him to continue loving you and guiding you

    Faithfully
    Marius’

  • You have really said yourself here Katherine. Ultimately, hope is the key. And a sense of expectation. An expectation that you are not yet all that you can be. It allows us to live in the moment but not be tied to the moment. Or be defined by it.

  • Katharine this is amazing, it could be me speaking at various times over the last couple of years? I have a devoted husband, four wonderful kids, supportive parents who live very close, a wonderful church family……the list goes on. As a Christian since the age of 12 my faith is as deep as ever but I find myself strangely detached from what’s going on around me at times? There is a “gloom” which can settle for days/weeks/months at a time and which no amount of prayer can seem to shift (it comes and goes for me at the moment)? I have a deep dissatisfaction with “modern life” and “busyness”, it is as if there is no room for people to just “be” anymore.
    The only thought I can really offer is that when I do find energy to talk to God I am now brutally honest & let things pour out. Sometimes this helps me feel better and other times it just doesn’t! I will follow your blog with interest in future.
    Alison G

  • The best thing humans can do is be honest with everyone. I come across so many people that go to church just for the sake of their partner and nothing else. I admire your honesty, and I don’t care if you pray or not, as long as you love others just as Jesus tells us to love everyone. God bless you and have a blessed day.

  • Enjoy God sitting beside you in companionable silence, quietly loving you, and maybe sometimes reaching out to put his (or is it her?) arms around you to reassure you of his/her love. Enjoy God quietly there at the core of your being also, that ‘something of God in everybody’ there in you.

    God shows you infinite patience, infinite kindness and total compassion. God understands you better than you do and forgives everything, knowing your desire to truly repent. God keeps on believing in you and does not give up hope for your future.

    God bless you

  • thanks. I wish I had better words; but was extraordinarily helpful to me at this time. For me also, church is where I feel worst – yet that is not how I want it to be.

  • By far the most helpful advice I ever came across was from a video I got from the public library by Dr Claire Weekes. Basically it assumed that we can escape from a cycle of fear/anxiety/ depression etc by using four simple steps:
    1.Face whatever you are afraid of (sorry to say I often skipped this step)
    2. Relax and remind yourself that the feelings (including physical sensations) you have are only feelings and they don’t reflect reality.
    3. Imagine youself floating on the feelings as you might float on water.
    4. Give it time. Don’t worry about how you feel. Just get on with whatever you may be doing.

    My experience was that I didn’t feel massively better immediately, but these steps stopped me worrying and helped me cope when I felt bad. Also, over time, and with the 4 steps repeated as often as necessary, it really helped more than anything else to make me feel much better.

    She was practising in Australia years and years ago (1970’s I think) so the video looks pretty old fashioned, but it is still on sale as a DVD from http://www.drclaireweekes.co.uk/index.htm (though you have to print out an order form as they don’t sell directly online). You can also see snippets of her talking if you search for her name on YouTube. There are also books available by her from Amazon.with the four steps described in more detail and giving more of her thinking.

    Hope this is useful to someone. P.S. Church and praying was also particularly hard for me then.

  • Hi Katherine,

    I enjoyed reading your article with interest.

    However, if you’ve ever seen the MATRIX you’ll appreciate that what we see is not necessarily real:)
    Why can we say that?
    2 Cor. 4:4
    “among whom the god of this system of things*+ has blinded the minds of the unbelievers,+ so that the illumination* of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God,+ might not shine through”

    This has to be one of the most underestimated scriptures in the bible as it identifies an enemy who doesn’t want us to find the real truth about what the scriptures really say.

    When I use to go to school (I’m 54 now) we had to sing at school a song which went along the lines of “he’s got …….. the whole …….. world in his hands,,,,,,,,,,he;s got the whole world in his hands”

    Remember?

    Who are we talking about here?

    It’s obvious that it’s God?

    Or is it?

    Let’s see what the bible has to say:

    1 John 5:19

    Yes we have to understand the surroundings we live in and who is really responsible for the circumstances that can affect our faith.

    Then again we have to ask ourselves what is FAITH

  • ‘Pray as you can, & do not try to pray as you can'(‘ van English Benedictine monk, I think)
    This has brought me great hope and comfort over the years. God will be with us wherever we are, & will accept our prayers however they are offered (even if we feel they “fall short” of what they should be).
    It is through praying as we can that I think we learn to (re)enter more deeply into a life of prayer.

  • Thank you for this post. I was in the very place you spoke about so honestly. I sensed that in fact what was happening was i was being beckoned to the desert (again) and in some way was refusing the invitation. I needed to keep going! To keep busy, depression is a cruel master and i was terrified that if i stopped for a moment i wouldn’t get up again. A few dayd ago i listened to a sermon by Revd. Mark Oakley about embracing the shadows within and being held by God’s all embracing love. The truth of it knocked me for six and I was floored, couldn’t stop crying to be honest. The desert is the path to God, his all embracing love for us RIGHT now, his compassion, our wholeness in him is our goal. Keep going, do just whatever you need to do to get through each day. God is found in even the most mundane activities, even if he feels like he is just in the next room, he is still there. All God’s blessings, pax

  • Reblogged this on sando and commented:
    I am thankful for people who are so much better than me at expressing how they feel about their illness and how it affects their faith, or daily walk with God. Totally in love and addicted to this blog. If you want to find out more about depression, you’ll learn lots from Katharine.

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