It’s not easy maintaining a positive attitude when dark clouds seemed stalled over our heads because there’s a lot of bad stuff going on in our lives. While there is a break in the clouds on occasion, mostly it’s overcast. God seems to have spread a gray sheet between Him and us.
Would you agree we all have days like that? Sometimes a number of them in a row. We’re not clinically depressed. We don’t need medication. We don’t need therapy. We just need a break from our unrelenting cloud-shrouded life.
I find when I’m under grey clouds it helps to remember the transient nature of clouds. Even today as I write, the sky overhead can’t seem to make up its mind. Will the clouds be given permission to part so the sun can shine through or will they remain huddled together in a solid mass?
I find I respond two ways to the dark clouds. If I’m already having a “reflecting” kind of day, I might actually prefer clouds. If I’ve planned a day to stay inside and pursue a creative project, I kind of like gray days. I think you know what I mean. There’s something that appeals to us when the sky matches our mood.
It’s like friends.
When we’re in the dumps we usually seek friends we know will try to match our moods in their manner of speech, and choice of words. We don’t need them to act depressed, of course, but we don’t want someone who acts too cheerful either. It feels cold and insensitive.
Sometimes a pep talk is needed but not in a “rah, rah” cheerleader fashion. I try to make sure I act appropriately as well when I’m the one listening. Something I experienced a few years ago brought that home to me.
I was in a meeting at church and I mentioned how fortunate I felt when compared to the rest of the world. One individual, (I learned this later) misconstrued what I said and felt I was saying I was better than other people. I meant my remarks exactly as I spoke them. I guess it’s all how you look at things, glass half-empty or glass half full.
I wasn’t aware that this person was struggling with some serious issues at the time. To someone who wasn’t feeling very blessed himself, my remarks must have felt like cold water splashed in his face. While I would say the same thing again I would be careful to explain what I meant.
I try to remember that while my clouds have moved for the time being, someone else’s clouds have just shown up. I wished he could have seen my past and the clouds that once hovered over me as well or the clouds that are hovering now. But even with the clouds I really did feel blessed. Undeservedly blessed.
But if I’m feeling really down, I don’t want the gray clouds; I want the sun. I want something to interrupt my mood and cheer me up. On those days, I remind myself that clouds, by their very nature eventually move. (Of course, if you live in Michigan as I do, you might have to wait weeks, not days.)
I keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually the sun/Son does break through. My mood gets better. I see things more clearly. It’s just the unrelenting nature of life.
Some days we have to look to the heavens and just wait for the sky to change.
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Spiritual fog is very much like a hike in the woods on a foggy day.
A path through the spiritual fog
I have spinal stenosis. This particular day, I was dealing with some sciatica pain and my husband wasn’t sure I would be able to take this route as there are hills. But I had no problem and this has now become my favorite trail ever.
Walk along and you’ll see why I find it so peaceful. (Excuse the pictures.)
The path starts to lead up a hill.
And it continues uphill.
Isn’t this chartreuse oss beautiful?
Finally, we reached here. I love sitting here and looking out over the cliff.
Hoffmaster State Park, Norton, Shores, Michigan
And then we reach Lake Michigan.
And the fog lifts.
Spiritual fog can be uphill and crooked
Sometimes life is just like this walk. Uphill and crooked. The path is steep and the weather foggy and we put one foot in front of the other hoping to find sure footing. Eventually, the fog lifts and we see our way once again. That’s what faith is like. God sets our feet upon a rock making our footsteps firm. Psalm 40:2b
We don’t quit walking though
We don’t stop just because we can’t see around the bend. The uncomfortable truth though is that we all do at times. If we don’t actually quit, we at least feel like quitting. We needn’t stop just because we can’t see around the bend. In fact, maybe that is a new definition of faith, walking forward when we can’t see around the bend.Tweet
I know I’m certainly not the first person that has linked fog with faith. It’s a common enough analogy. It isn’t about the fog anyway.
It’s about the walk
Sometimes, our walk through the clouds is long. Sometimes our walk is short. And our “fog” can be anything. It can be disappointment, anxiety, depression, stress. Sometimes it’s illness or grief.
It may have come upon us suddenly or have evolved over time. While it might be important to know the cause, for right now, you just have to keep walking through it. You can examine the cause later.
Aspects of spiritual fog
I thought I would feel excited at this point but mostly I’m scared. It is an honest book. It’s been written for years. I changed the format and left out a lot of material because I wanted to keep the book’s price within reason. As is it, I feel it’s too expensive but I have no choice with publisher.
I managed to get it down from 332 to 206 pages by changing the formatting and deleting a lot of material I really liked. Needless to say, I have a lot of leftover material for the next book.
Life never consistently runs smoothly. We all know that. And it helps to reconcile ourselves to it instead of expecting every day to be glorious. We are always drifting in and out of fog.
Foggines can occur after we’ve met a goal. It’s a natural let-down. We’ve been working so hard and all of a sudden we find ourselves discombobulated. We don’t know what to do with ourselves.
I’ve had to be so focused for so long and now I don’t. It’s like I’m in a big field and don’t know what direction to take. So, I feel “foggy”. I would worry about it except Beth Moore (author of many books) wrote about this very thing that happens to her after she finishes writing a Bible study. It’s like Satan throws every arrow he has against her to make her doubt what she has written. Other authors say the same thing.
A spiritual fog will not be lifted until we recognize our part in the process. I would suggest that as Christians we often bring on the fog because we don’t practice the spiritual disciplines. You may not even know what they are but they are the only way to truly know God.
Richard Foster has perhaps done the best job of explaining the spiritual disciplines, in his classic book, Celebration of Discipline. Other pastors, authors, and scholars have added to these but I feel that these additions all fit under Foster’s original six: prayer, bible study, meditation, silence/ solitude, fasting and service.
While these are simple-sounding, they are not easy. Not by a long shot. And they require consistent practice.
But even when these are practiced, we can bring on our own fog. However, because these disciplines are practiced, it also means we will walk through our fog and come out on the other side.
Here’s my personal fog story. It’s about the fog that showed up after I finished my book.
My book was actually completed a few years ago. All I have been doing this last year has been trying to reword it so it would fit as a devotional. The content has never really changed. I see that as good because it means that in all my rereading I’ve still come back to the same message.
It’s very, very close now to showing up on Amazon and other booksellers. I’m expecting one more edit and then it will be “live”. I wish I could say I was done at that point but, alas, there’s all the marketing after that. The actual book launch will be a few weeks from now. I guess this is more of a soft opening.
Writing the book was relatively easy because I love the research and the whole process. All the rest has been extremely stressful. At times, I lost the joy that obedience to God brings. Last week I sent in what is probably the final, final manuscript for one last look and one last approval.
Having said all that, however, I am definitely writing another book. Just not with the same publisher.
But God leads us out of that fog
It feels like I’ve given birth. I guess you could call this post-book depression. So as I think of the day I first walked that path and remembering how the fog cleared, I know this will, too. God holds onto me in the fog just like he holds on to me in the light. He’s ahead of me walking and clearing the way and beside me enabling me to take the next step. He’s behind me when I need a shove. Just like he is for you.
In a fog is not the time to put aside the spiritual disciplines. In fact, we may need to hunker down and apply them even more. Feeling bad is no excuse for ignoring God and I would imagine God is hurt when we ignore him at these times and try to handle it ourselves.Tweet
Remember, when your fog appears, God is still present. And, eventually, the fog lists. Because that’s what fog does.
God bless you today as you walk your own path.
CONNECTING THE DOTS OF YOUR DAY IS IMPORTANT
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Connecting the dots helps you analyze your attitudes. Take a few minutes at the end of the day. Think through your day. How would you define your day, good, bad, or just so-so?
How do you label your days?
The thing about connecting your dots is that it really helps you analyze why you labeled your days the way you did. For example, did you label a day as good because everything went right or because you finally solved a big problem? Did you have a bad day because you worked hard all day on a project? Why would you label that as a bad day? What would be your criteria for a so-so day?
Ask some intentional questions
And then if you ask yourself some questions, like these below, it might help you decide why you label a day the way you do. For example, I have worked three days on the computer working on my book. I am exhausted. Some might label it a bad day because I was chained to the chair. But I thought it was a great day.
It was great because I was thoroughly engaged in what I was doing. I was constantly practicing the disciplines of faith. Yes, I felt frustrated and confused but I found myself constantly going back to the well and drinking living water. It was mind-boggling but if someone asked me if I had a good day, I would shout, “Yes”.
I refused to let my joy be swallowed up because I was tired or confused.
I know some people who, when I learn how they spent their day, I’m often surprised at how they label it. It’s that half-full, half-empty thing. But think about it. It’s the exact same amount in the container, isn’t it? It’s such a tired phrase but it’s really true. What WE THINK ABOUT determines how our days go.
There are some days we have a “so-so” kind of a day. Nothing stellar but nothing bad either. We meander willy-nilly through our day. never deliberately choosing anything. We let life just swallow us up. I prefer to go to bed knowing I was a little more intentional about what I did that day. That’s not to say I don’t have some willy-nilly days but I usually plan for them. And, yes, there are some days that are not planned. But most people, including me, do better with structured days.
Develop a plan
Tailor your questions for yourself. Maybe you could write out your questions and put them on your bed stand. How about on your phone? Maybe they won’t even be questions. Maybe a chart or just some bullet points. It’s just a way to track your day, to connect the dots of your actions and feelings.
- Who did you spend time with?
- How were your health habits today?
- How often did you find yourself using negative words?
- Did you practice your faith’s disciplines?
- Did you do something you really enjoyed? (I beat my husband on “Words with Friends by 100 points and he never loses so I really enjoyed that.
It’s whatever works best for you. You might prefer just to take a minute or two and reflect. You might be a journaler. It’s a good thing to examine your life, not morbidly just reflectively so that tomorrow will be better than today. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
Since I have been using my BUJO (Bullet Journal), I’ve really managed to come to the end of each day and feel really good about them, even days where I didn’t accomplish a lot anyone could see but I spent quality time in prayer and Bible study.
Labeling your days is revealing
Seriously, there’s nothing wrong with looking back over your day and then labeling it. Because those labels say something. If you’ve been labeling most of your days on the negative side, and nothing bad has been going on, you might want to ask why. And, believe it or not, if you’ve been labeling most of your days on the positive but a lot of negative things have been going on, you might also want to ask why? I say that because:
Aids in reflection
It’s just as .bad to be consistently “yay, yay” as it is to be “nay, nay” about life. There’s nothing wrong with saying you had a bad day or just a so-so day. That s not the point of this post. The point of this post is to just connect the dots of your day and be reflective about.Tweet.
We don’t have to be rigid about this. We don’t have to do it every day. Start seeing the pattern, and the words you use
God bless and have a good day.
Boy, can I tell I’m am busy finishing up this book. You have heard me say this for months but it’s true. There have been edits on top of edits. But this time I’m really close to the finished line.
I submit this edit I’m working on and then its submitted back to me for my final approval and then it goes to print almost immediately. Finally! I feel like I’ve been giving birth for over a year.
So I hope you will forgive me for this morning’s post when I had a sentence that ended with ??????. I completely forgot to go find the paint color and insert it. The question marks were to remind me. I was working on my final edit and those question marks just popped into my head and I thought, “Oh, no!!!!” A little too late.
Anyway, I have made the correction.
I will be so glad to put this project to rest. I am so excited about this book while at the same time overwhelmed.
So, I apologize.