Monday, September 26, 2011

Spiritual Dry Spells, Part 1

Here we go. I’m going to write about three words that seem harmless... but when you put them together, oh boy, watch out! I’m talking about...

Spiritual Dry Spells.

It seems like you can easily slip into a dry spell without even realizing it, so the big question is: How do you get out of one?

I'll let you know when I figure it out.


This would be a really boring short post if I waited to share all of my wisdom with you all until I got out of this seven-months-long-and-counting dry spell. Lucky for you, I'm too verbose to do short posts when I set out to really write, and my posts are never boring... (right?)

So, I sat down to write this post on another one of those hard-to-fall-asleep nights. You know, the ones where you can’t fall asleep because you have such great thoughts running through your mind that you just have to write them all down so you don't forget them in the morning. As I was thinking about what to include on my oh-so-helpful list of how to get out of a spiritual dry spell, I realized that maybe one of the reasons why my current spiritual dryness seems to be never-ending could be partly due to the fact that I haven’t been taking the advice I am about to give you right now.

Internal dilemma ensues. Should I still write this post? What if I can’t remember all this great stuff in the morning? What if I do write this and people think I’m a *shudder* "holier-than-thou" hypocrite?

The battle waged for 3.7 seconds before I decided that I really needed to go to sleep. So I quickly wrote down what I needed to purge from my head, and went to bed.
And there those thoughts sat, out in cyberspace, unpublished to the world.

Until now. Most of the time, we, as bloggers, write about our experiences and things we have learned to share with our readers, with the hope that they will gain something from our experiences. Sometimes, we learn even more about ourselves in the process of preparing a post. This particular post, I admit, has some selfish motivations, because while I hope you all enjoy reading it and maybe even learn a thing or two, I'm hoping even more that writing this post will help me to become better at doing each of these things in order to grow closer in my relationship with God.

Without further ado, and in no particular order, my top ten list of things to help you in a spiritual dry spell. The first five are posted here, and the next five will be posted later this week.

1. Go to Mass more than you normally would
Vision of St. John the Evangelist

I used to go to Mass almost every day. It's not something I felt obligated to do, but something I looked forward to each day. I would sometimes come early and stay afterwards just to sit in quiet reflection or prayer, because it was something I wanted to do. When the dryness set in, I started praying even more fervently at Mass. I wasn't able to attend daily Mass as frequently due to my schedule, but when I did go to Mass, I would show up even earlier to spend more time in prayer, and I kept bringing the same petitions to the Lord. After a couple of months of that, with no "visible" results, I gave up.

I explained to one of my friends that I felt like I wasn't getting anything out of going to daily Mass anymore, and I found it difficult to focus on the readings and prayers like I had before. She not only reminded me that we don't go to Mass to feel something - but to worship and praise God - but she also explained that we receive amazing graces just by attending Mass. Just being in the presence of such a sacred mystery, abounding with grace, has got to scare the Devil, which means he will try whatever he can to keep us away! That's why it's so important to continue going to Mass. If you normally only go on Sundays, try to attend Mass a couple of times during the week. If you regularly attend daily Mass already, step it up a notch by arriving early or staying late to spend some extra time in prayer. I can say from experience that when the spiritual darkness sets in, you may lose the desire to go to Mass, which means you come up with every excuse in the book to not to get there that day... but if you do, God will grace you with His presence, even if you can't feel it.

2. Go say "Hi!" to a priest... in the confessional

Wussup, Father! I'm a sinner!
Spiritual dryness can be a heavy weight to carry, which can lead to us letting down our guard, opening up the floodgates to temptation and sin. Even if we don't realize it, being spiritually weary can be physically and emotionally stressful as well. A friend advised me that sometimes we can't do much to get out of a dry spell, but it's important to continue to remain in a state of grace so that we can continue to receive the Eucharist and be fully open to being a channel for God's grace. Even more, frequenting confession helps to protect us from spiritual attack... or at least better recognize particular vices that the sly one can use against us. 

From my own experience, my spiritual dryness has just been the icing on the cake, shall we say, with the other hardships in my life right now, which has caused a lot of stress and anxiety. I start to take this out on those around me, but especially God. I spend days building up anger and frustration with others and with God inside (yes, I even yell at God sometimes... in my head), and my patience was quickly diminishing much more rapidly than usual. It was when I was releasing all of this vented frustration to a friend that I realized I needed to take my soul to the car wash! The second I received absolution, I felt a huge weight lifted from me. The anger and impatience I had been feeling for days was gone. While I still had to come home and deal with the same frustrating situations, I was able to handle them more charitably and with loving patience. There have been a few times where I have walked away from Confession and physically felt a weight being lifted. Experiencing this feeling of God's love is always important, but especially when you are suffering from a dry spell, because it can be a much needed consolation that God's grace is still present in your life.

3. Try to do a Holy (Half) Hour each day

This makes me giggle. 'Sup, Jesus?!
The purpose of this is to make a point to set aside a little bit of time each day to focus on God. Can't do a holy hour? Try a half hour. Try five minutes, even! It can be spent praying in a chapel (or my latest alternative, sit quietly and try really hard not to go over my to-do list in my head), going to Eucharistic Adoration, reading some verses from Scripture, reflecting on the daily Mass readings, checking out some spiritual readings by the saints and other great Catholics... even just lying on your bed and thinking, "Are you there God? It's me, [insert name here]" is better than the alternative - ignoring God. When we (I) fail to do this, we start to use noise and toys and the shiny things of the world to distract us from what is really important, which is working on growing in our relationship with God. Would you not take the time to talk to or hang out with your best friend for long periods of time? Nope! Pretend that God is your best friend by spending some time with Him, because, well, He is your best friend. As with all relationships, a relationship with God has to be a two-way street. God is most likely holding up His end of the friendship, so we have to be willing to put in some effort as well.

4. Go on a retreat

Kairos - Live the Fourth!
I've heard that it's recommended for Catholics to go on at least one retreat a year to work on deepening their relationships with God. If you're in a dry spell, now is the best time to set everything aside and devote all your time to God. It makes a profound statement that you are willing to sacrifice time, technology, work, and other things of the world for a brief period in order to be only with God. While it may not end up being the mind-blowing experience you expect, you will most definitely receive certain graces by reflecting on your faith life and living on God's time instead of your own time. The biggest challenge for me - and many others - is taking what you learn from your retreat and putting these things into practice in your daily life, but it can be an important first step.

5. Serve others

I'm going to guess that she sees Christ in that sweet baby face.
Blessed Mother Teresa felt silence in her prayer life from the moment she answered God's call to open the Missionaries of Charity. Yet, she persevered and didn't give up on her relationship with God. She didn't stop going to Mass, and she received the Eucharist daily. She didn't counter God's silence with the cold shoulder, but instead persisted in her prayer. Most importantly, she continued to follow God's will for her life through serving the sick and poor each and every day. Through this service, it cannot be denied that she found Christ in each face that she saw, even if she couldn't find God in her prayer life. She may have suffered decades of silence, but by serving others, she remained close to God. I'm just going to take a guess and say that's probably one of the many reasons why she is now Blessed Mother Teresa. It's definitely worth years of silence in prayer to spend eternity in His presence.

We discover (or re-discover) our spiritual gifts through serving others. Furthermore, we grow closer to Christ by becoming more like him through service. To become more like Christ, whether it is through serving or suffering, preaching or silently evangelizing, is to grow a little bit further away from the darkness and closer to God's all-encompassing light.

I know that for me personally, I feel closer to God when I am able to use the gifts He has given me to help others. Whether it is cooking a home-made meal for college students away from home, baking a treat for Bible Study, offering free tutoring to friends who are struggling in their chemistry courses, or trying to be a positive, Christian witness to my pre-teen Girl Scouts, I feel more at peace even amidst the dryness in my spiritual life. I know that one of the more difficult struggles for me these past few months has been figuring out how I can continue to serve as my life is in a constant flux. When I felt like I had lost my outlets for utilizing my gifts to serve others, I began to feel a bit worthless. This is exactly what the Devil wants - the more worthless we feel, the less we realize how unique and special we are in God's eyes. This is why answering Christ's call to serve others - in whatever way we can - is so crucial, because it not only helps us shy away from the darkness of the Devil, but it makes us more like Christ which ultimately brings us closer to God.

Have you ever been in what seems like a never-ending dry spell in your spiritual life? How did you eventually pull through?

For other great blog posts about spiritual dryness, check out these great series by Julie at The Corner with a View and Jen at Conversion Diary.

Check back later for my next five tips, which will be posted later this week!


  1. Great post! I you feel far from God, just come closer.

  2. Thanks for commenting! Yes, I agree with you - it can just be difficult to take those baby steps to come closer to God sometimes, but we have to keep trying!


I l.o.v.e. reading your comments!

I would love even more to be able to respond to them, so pretty please link your e-mail address to your name!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...