Fighting Apathy

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During the first two days of “shelter-in-place,” I felt sad and anxious and a tiny bit fearful. On day three, however, my Enneagram 7 self decided to show up, and I made a “Quarantine Bucket List.” If we had to shelter in place, we might as well make the most of it! On the list were personal goals (read a book a week, try new recipes), household goals (clean out the pantry, organize closets), and fun family goals (make root beer floats, take Judah fishing). 

The first week or two, that list guided me. What’s something fun we could do today with the boys? What’s a productive goal for the weekend? Root beer floats were a win, and I have found the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. But then something happened around week 4, and I stopped looking at the list. I was tired–exhausted from attempting to work at home while parenting–and a bit lonely; I’m an extrovert who is bad at technology. Now I pass my quarantine bucket list and laugh at all the things I won’t be doing this week… I mean, who can try new recipes when even the best grocery store ever, H-E-B, is out of all of the things?!

The adrenaline of a new challenge that inspired me at the beginning of this pandemic has worn off, and now I just feel restless, bored, and fatigued. Each day feels like that movie “Groundhog Day,” a movie I’ll admit I’ve never even seen because just the premise of being stuck in the same day every day is beyond stressful to me, but now, ironically, it’s my life. 

I don’t think I’m alone. Life Groups that I talk to who felt motivated at the beginning to keep up community virtually have started to slip in their consistency and urgency. Zoom and FaceTime, which seemed such blessings in March, are now the bane of our existence in May. The “life update” portion of even my own Life Group causes us to laugh–who has an update?! Everything is the same! 

Unfortunately, the area I see this impacting most is our spiritual lives. At the beginning of this extra time, we made big plans for all the prayers we would say and all the Bible we would read. But now, we’re just not feeling it anymore. We miss our normal ways of connecting with God through corporate worship, in-person Life Groups, chats with friends about God over coffee (not Zoom), and the tangible ways of serving at our church that we loved. Without those, we just don’t know what else to do. We feel stuck in life, and so of course we feel stuck spiritually. 

I bet a lot of us would admit to being a bit apathetic right now about our faith. But what do we do when the “normal” ways we’ve connected with God for our whole lives change? How do we shake ourselves from this apathetic state? I don’t have all the answers, but here are a few thoughts. When we feel apathy coming on, we need to:

  1. Change It Up.
    • Think about it this way: when you’re getting to know someone, you don’t go eat at the same restaurant, watch the same movie, and play the same game every time you hang out, do you? No. You change it up, and by doing so, create new memories, learn new things about each other, and have some fun. Why is it so different when we’re trying to get to know God and spend time with Him?
    •  If you’re in a rut spiritually, try connecting with God in a different way than you normally do. This could be as simple as taking your Bible outside to read instead of reading from your couch, or it could mean prayer walks in your neighborhood, driving through Cameron Park with your windows down and worship music on, watching The Chosen (a TV series on the life of Jesus–watch it already!), journaling,… and more, way more. What do you like doing? What gives you joy? Do that with a worshipful heart. (If you can’t think of anything, ask your Life Group for suggestions!) Use this time to discover new and unique ways of connecting with God–you never know what you might find! 
  2. Confess It.
    • James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
    • Apathy towards God, the creator of the Universe, the Savior of our lives is a sin. It is. Everyone else in the world might be apathetic right now, too, but it is still a sin. Have you treated it like a sin? Have you confessed it to God? To your Life Group? If not–stop reading this and do it now. Ask for forgiveness from God. Have your people pray for you and hold you accountable to proactively fight this. Spend focused time praying against this apathy every day. Our enemy is crafty; he wants to win this battle for our souls, and apathy is the greatest way for him to do just that. Do.not.let.him. Confess it and pray against it regularly.
  3. Just Do It.
    • In 1 Timothy 4:17, Paul says to “discipline yourself for godliness.” We can’t ignore the fact that spending time with God is a discipline we need to work on. It won’t always feel fun to wake up early and read your Bible (even if you do read it with some good pour over coffee). It won’t always feel fun to turn off whatever Netflix show you’re watching in order to spend time in prayer. 
    • Even if you don’t want to, take some advice from Nike and just do it! I don’t feel like waking up in the middle of the night to take care of a toddler who had a bad dream, but I do it to be a good mom. I don’t feel like eating well and working out, but I do it to be a healthy person. We live our lives doing things we don’t want to do because we know it’s good for us. Why do we expect our spiritual lives to be different? Discipline isn’t always fun, but there really is no other way. Faithfulness isn’t sexy, but it’s what we’re called to practice as Christ followers. Discipline yourself and I promise, desire will come.

I know, I know, I just got a bit preachy in those steps. Please hear me, that I, as an energetic, enthusiastic, always positive person, have seriously struggled with apathy, discontentment, and negativity the past few weeks. Life is really hard and really different for us right now. It makes sense that we feel this way. There is so much grace, but we can’t allow ourselves to stay apathetic in our faith. Even when we are stuck in life, we can move forward in our relationship with God. It will take work, it won’t be easy, but it is possible because it is a promise from God: “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all of your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 29:13-14a)

By Kathy Davidson. Kathy is wife to Matt, and mom to 2 boys (with one more on the way). When she’s not losing wrestling matches with the boys, she’s probably drinking a Diet Coke and talking to college students about Jesus.

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