When Faith Flatlines

16 Feb

If you’re prone like me to an artistic temperament, there are days when you’re really up and days when you feel your faith flatlining. So where do we get the crash cart when that happens? Who or what resuscitates us? How do we keep our minds from going straight to a gutter of negativity and our hearts from plunging into depression and despair? If “those without hope perish”, how do we keep hope alive? How do we fan its flames from bare embers?  

I don’t think it’s an easy endeavor. But like throwing out a life preserver, I think there are a few things that can help. 

They say faith is a matter of perspective and it most definitely is but once that perspective is tainted, it becomes hard to shift. This is my issue with cognitive behavioral therapy, which in my line of work is all the rage. The idea with this is that if you change your thought, you change the feeling and behavior. This is all good and dandy when YOU CAN change the thought. But what if you can’t? What if you try but you hit a brick wall? Likewise, we often have insight but that doesn’t always mean we change the behavior or feeling. What happens then?

I think there is a point where will power doesn’t always work. Where mind over matter fails. And that is where we have to surrender and turn to God. We have to say, “Please, God. Help me. Heal me.” Or we turn to someone who has faith and say, “Please, intercede for me.”  

If the opposite of faith is fear, it’s important to move away from its breeding ground. What helps me do that is art because it fosters possibility vs. limitation. Creativity jump starts my mood like jumper cables do a car. It helps replace depression like an antidote to poison. Healing doesn’t come from focusing on the negative; it comes from transmuting the negative – moving through it into something Higher. Something beautiful. Something worthwhile.  

When my faith flatlines, I ask for help. But then I often have to just put one foot in front of the other. Like the Nike commercial, I have to “just do it.” Put on the sneakers, hit the pavement and wait for the God endorphins to kick in again.

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3 Responses to “When Faith Flatlines”

  1. Stephanie February 16, 2009 at 10:19 pm #

    Amen! Beautiful, Lise. We can’t do it without Him. We AREN’T strong enough to do it all on our own. Hills and valleys will come, but there is always one constant – His love for us. He is always there, even when we feel all alone. This is one of my greatest struggles, but also my greatest hope. Love you!

  2. bub February 18, 2009 at 10:57 am #

    I think what’s helped me is trying to establish some spiritual routines that I try to stick to. I say try because I allow myself to skip or miss every once in awhile. Otherwise, it would just become monotony to me. I have found that when I’m practicing these even when I don’t “feel” it, it buys me enough time until I let God step in and take over.

    I also agree with you about that point where willpower fails me. I’m sure that you saw it with your parents how someone so fantastic in other ways could continually ruin their life with their addictions. I really believe that without God we don’t have much of a chance at changing. AA and NA talk about a spiritual awakening that their 12 steps give you. I think taking their 3rd step (and actually coming to Christ and accepting His Grace)about turning their will and their life over to God (as they understand Him)was the turning point in my own battle with addiction.

    Gosh, I didn’t mean to write a novel but one more thing. When I’m playing music (my art) I’m pretty sound. When I’m not, I seem to struggle. Thanks for the great post!

  3. lisesletters February 18, 2009 at 3:09 pm #

    Steph, darling. We just talked the other day but thanks again for posting. Love you back.

    Bub, So glad you wrote a lot. To me the whole point of having a blog is to foster meaningful dialogue and connection. You know it’s funny. Here Ed gave this great talk on faith last weekend and I couldn’t have been more faith dead. I don’t know what happened, but I hit a pot hole big time, which is why I wrote that piece. I agree whole-heartedly about routine. That’s what I mean by the “Just do it!” theory. Like kids, we too need structure. But when I’m really really down, sometimes I think art is the only thing that helps (and swimming). In many ways the God thing is more new to me. It sounds like you’ve had God and the steps in a profound way. But I have always found God in art. How cool that you have music.

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