There is a false and persistent myth that strong people are persistently, perpetually, perennially strong. That creative people are persistently, perpetually, perennially, creative. That people of faith are persistently, perpetually, perennially faithful. These people, so the myth goes, never run out of steam. Never have dry spells. Never experience self-doubt. Never contemplate giving up.
Such people do not exist.
The truth is there are days, weeks, yes even seasons, when the soul is on empty. Though deadlines loom, your mailbox is full, a new battle awaits you, your readers wonder where you’ve gone, the phone is ringing, and dirty clothes are piled high in the basket, you’re in a drought.
If it weren’t for the many psalms of lament in the Bible, I don’t know if I would have remained a Christian. It’s good to know that when I feel emotionally, spiritually and intellectually adrift, I’m in good company. It helps to know that I have not disappointed God when I feel empty and not up to the next task. God knows. Psalm 42 is my favorite psalm in the bible because I can empathetically imagine the psalter mumbling the words to the psalm to herself in a blues-like fashion as she kneads the bread for an upcoming ceremonial observance or as she gets up that morning to dress to sing in the choir.
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.
Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise the Lord,
my Savior and my God.
Thank God, droughts are seasonal. They are not forever, even though they feel like they are here to stay. Even though they make you think that you’ll never be strong again, that your creativity was a sham, and that faith is futile and everyone knows it except you. Don’t believe your drought.
Find some water somewhere and keep moving.
Turn off the computer. Unplug the phone. Go for a walk. Take a long drive. Read a book. Hold a baby. Take a salsa class. Take a long bath. Kneel at the side of the bed. Put on some music that makes you cry. I did. I’m feeling better already. So good, “I believe I’ll run on and see what the end’s gonna be.”