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 And there those thoughts sat, out in cyberspace, unpublished to the world.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!|
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?!|
4. Go on a retreat
|Kairos - Live the Fourth!|
5. Serve others
|I'm going to guess that she sees Christ in that sweet baby face.|
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!