Go ahead and admit it, we have all been there in that stagnant place called the “doldrums.” I bet you even recognize the symptoms. Sluggishness. Lack of Energy. Listless. Low Spirits. Boredom. Dragging your body not only out of bed but schlepping through the entire day.
A cup of coffee will help, no doubt. So you pour that soothing elixir, and the first sip begins to send a warmth through your body, slowly awakening your senses. Then reality sets in, and you process the day ahead of you…..and all you can muster is “UGH”.
The “Doldrums” originally referred to the region of ocean around the equator, between the two belts of trade winds. Ships traveling through this area were caught and unable to move due to the lack of wind activity, sometimes for weeks at a time.
The term very effectively describes those same periods in our own lives when we are unable to move forward, grow or thrive. Often we find ourselves thrown into the doldrums following a crisis or a loss. Sometimes it even occurs following a time of great busyness and productivity, when all activity ceases, and life becomes still and quiet.
During these times, our faith can wane and become dull and lifeless. We can feel as though we are caught between the reality of the situation and where we want to be, yet powerless to get there.
The ships caught within the Doldrums in the 18th century could either decide to wait it out until the wind picked back up again, or they could do whatever was necessary to make even a small amount of progress by rowing and rowing and rowing.
We have the same choice. There is no yield, no reward for remaining in the doldrums. We must choose to do whatever is necessary to make even a small amount of progress, all in the midst of waiting on God to work and move in our situations. Often taking time to change things up a bit is all that is necessary to create that tiny movement forward.
Try these ideas if you find yourself in the doldrums, particularly where your faith and joy are concerned
- Focus energy on meeting someone’s need and watch your joy grow.
- Set aside a few minutes each day to take a walk and breathe in contentment.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal and begin the practice of remembering God’s presence.
- Begin a routine of physical exercise and feel your energy and outlook improve.
- Make time for friends to nurture relationships.
- Create a play list of songs to lift your spirits.
- Make time for hobbies so creativity can give birth to joy.
- Step outside of your comfort zone and try something new, even if just for a day.
Of course this list is not extensive, but it serves as a great place to begin rowing. Take heart. Hitting the doldrums is a natural course of life, and it will not last forever. Recognizing when we find ourselves there is the first step to getting out. Regardless of how “schleppy” you feel, start rowing, resume smiling and remain hopeful.
It may take a second cup of coffee, but things will change!
“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:23