I could have thought that it was just my glasses, or - in days gone by, the
dreaded ‘isibhabalazi’ after too much whisky the night before - but
something was out of focus. My glasses, for once, were not fogged up or
smeary, my head didn’t hurt or pound - but something was clearly not right
with my world.
“Take a ‘time out’”, I thought, “and fix it”. So I did - but it didn’t. “Take a
walk with dogs, and tell them all about it”, I thought. So I did - but I found I
didn’t know what to say to them. “Go and say your prayers, you fool!” I
thought. So I did - and I couldn’t think of a thing to say, except how lost I
How could I get to this stage of my life and still feel so incredibly helpless,
so incapable, so needy, so…childish? Was I sick? Perhaps I hadn’t had
enough salt or something; perhaps my blood sugar was out of kilter;
perhaps I was quietly losing my mind.
Why did it seem such an effort to do anything? Hah! Bloody Covid again, I
expect! But no - test negative, and not like when I had had it before
anyway. I need a holiday perhaps - well, I knew that, but the whole idea of
packing up and going somewhere filled me with dread. I had become
Mental quagmires soon escalate into emotional quagmires, which will then
transmogrify into physical inertia from which it is increasingly difficult to
escape - like walking into deeper and deeper clinging mud, which I have
done, or walking into quicksand, which I haven’t, or I wouldn’t be writing
this bizarre meandering at all. Although I could imagine you might be
grateful for that.
I think what I might have been experiencing was a ‘crisis of the soul’. We
all get them, and though that doesn’t make it any easier, it does mean that
it is part of the human condition. The problem with us Christians is that we
think we should be immune to such things - they shouldn’t happen to us.
Unfortunately, that is a load of rubbish (I nearly had to make a donation to
the ‘Swear Jar’ there!). I cannot emphasize that enough. Indeed, I suspect
we are even more prone to this sort of mental fog and stagnation than
others, for the very simple reason that we feel we should be immune.
We - above all - should be clear in our sense of direction and purpose. We
have a mission to perform for Christ; we are called to his service - how can
we possibly be lost? And yet, here we are feeling sorry for ourselves, and
useless. I imagine Jesus felt just the same when he went out into the
desert for 40 days and was tempted to jack the whole thing in - and just be
a superstar, enjoying all the fame and women he could manage. I cannot
speak for his time in the first century, but I’m sure there were similar people
even then who attracted the adulation nowadays only afforded to hockey
players and rappers.
And at the end of his ministry, I don’t think that Jesus had a wild time in the
Garden of Gethsemane; it wasn’t a ‘pity party’ as ours can become if we’re
not careful, but he certainly had some doubts, anguish, and loss of focus -
“Really, Father? Do I have to do this?”
All we can do when we get into a mental funk is ask for the fog to dissipate,
so that our way will once again be clear to us. It isn’t always quick, and it
isn’t always easy - but the purpose of your life will come back to you. Don’t
take my word for it - take Jesus’ word; ‘The work of God is this - that you
believe on the one he has sent.’ (John 6:29). And the Psalmist said it
before him; ‘I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for
me.’ (Ps 57:2). So relax - Jesus is still holding you - always.