Brittany Lee Allen

Spiritual Weariness and Chasing a Feeling

I did what they told me to do. I left my phone lying around forgotten, I read more, I tried to be present, I took naps. But at the end of vacation, my eyes were wet with tears as I poured out my heart to my sweet husband. I was both longing for the normalcy of home and dreading it. I didn’t feel inspired or ready to get back to work. I’m still burnt out. 

This summer, I’ve read more posts than ever about the rest people find in doing these things. They make it seem like the key to rest is getting off social media, trading in your phone for a book, and savoring what’s in front of you. These are great disciplines. But it left me wondering why it didn’t work for me? Why do I feel like my soul can’t quiet itself? Why, after a beach vacation and nearly zero screen time do I still feel restless?

Certainly part of the problem is that I spent most of vacation in a flare up of chronic stomach pain. It’s hard to rest when you feel weary physically, mentally, and even spiritually—maybe spiritually most of all. But I don’t think it’s the only reason I struggled to feel restful. 

It seems I had no idea that my heart was chasing a feeling. Looking at the ocean made by the very Word of God, I felt unmoved. And I wanted to be moved—moved to worship, moved to awe, moved toward God. I wanted to be reminded that he sees me. And that he cares.

These last couple of years have been beautiful, but they’ve also held some really hard things. Things I’m still trying to understand. And I guess I’d hoped maybe as I looked out into the deep sea, I’d find clarity there among the waves as I have so many times before. But I didn’t. 

The beautiful truth though, that’s been nestling itself in my heart lately, is that God remains the same, even when I’m confused, unmoved, and struggling to understand the “why’s” behind his plan. Do you know how freeing this has been? To know that no matter how fickle and emotional I am, he never leaves me. That he has bound himself to me forever because of the gospel. The gospel is good news for those of us who are spiritually weary. It tells us that we are accepted by grace alone through faith in Jesus, not by how perfectly we trust him or how joyful we are. 

I’m home now. And I’ve been dwelling on this truth for days. I’m thankful that instead of finding the feeling I was chasing, I found a reminder of the gospel. I wonder if maybe you need that reminder too? (Who doesn’t?) So here it is: There is no amount of righteousness, joyfulness, trust in God, or feelings of awe that could ever earn a right standing with God. We are saved and justified by Christ alone. Even as we struggle (and all of us do), we are secure in him. We are often faithless and faulty, but he is faithful. That’s the point.

What a truth we can rest in. So, rest my soul, rest.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:26 ESV)

9 Responses

  1. Brittany, you and I are kindred spirits as I said before. That feeling I get I call angst. I think people can go thru about anything as long as they know it’s for a reason. You writing this blog was the reason for your vacation woes. What you thought was uncertainty, weariness ,was actually Christ forging these great truths you wrote. I’ve used my art many many times like this. What is inside of you and your talent to express it is what makes you such a special person. GO GIRL GO.

    1. Ross, these words nearly made me cry. Praise the Lord for how he works! Thank you for your encouragement.

  2. I recently started reading Ragged by Gretchen Ronnevik. I’m not sure if you have read it but so far, the book sounds much like your post here. 🙂

  3. I think what we sometimes say should be restful for many isn’t restful for all of us. I’m an older single woman, no kids of my own, but tons of them in my classes. I also teach at my church. I’m constantly prepping. Even during my quiet times, I jot down notes if I think what I’m reading or have prayed about might be useful to someone else. The brain is always on the move (and I am extremely nerdy). My way to decompress is to read and think. Give me a Saturday and a stack of books (or sites on my computer), and I am very happy and relaxed. A good friend gave me a book years ago about margin, needing to garden, tend my goats, etc. and I almost had a panic attack. I never met a plant that I didn’t accidentally kill! I think we need to realize that we are all unique creations of God, with different ways of dealing with stress. If it’s not contrary to God’s Word and it works for the person, I think we need to encourage them in that endeavor. I also think we need to understand that it take a long time to process the traumatic events in our lives, even when we have taken time to “recover.” The past 18 months have been hard on all of us. Thankfully, as people of faith, we have a big God who carries our burdens and consoles our hearts, but there still may be the absence of a loved one who died, the discomfort at trying to get back to regular routines, the fear of returning to full classes of masked, unvaccinated children (that would be me)–but God is big enough for all of it as I walk with Him in the quiet and the busy times.

  4. Thank you so much for this reminder, Brittany. I identify with your experience so strongly! To long for a feeling, an emotion, an atmosphere, something to immerse and envelop me and let *that* be what convinces my heart of the truth. When really all of those things, whether pleasurable or destructive, are fleeting. Temporary. They’re clouds and vapor, as we are. As the scripture reminds us God *isn’t.*. Thank you for this reminder of the reminder.

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