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  • Stacey Sumereau

When You Just Can't Get Out of That Rut

Have you ever been in a spiritual rut? Do you ever feel that the mass just isn’t interesting, that you don’t get anything out of praying, and that no matter how many resolutions you make to kickstart your spiritual life, you just can’t motivate yourself to follow through? Actually, let me phrase it this way: Who hasn’t ever been in a spiritual rut?

Being a Christian is hard. When you’re not riding high on a wave of motivation it can be a chore to live like a Christian. Even Mother Teresa went through years and years where she couldn’t feel God’s presence. If she didn’t feel the Holy Spirit movin’ and groovin,’ then those who are plodding along on a lower plane of holiness (aka, er, me,) are sure gonna get stuck in ruts too. I am a Catholic speaker, and I sometimes wonder- Am I a fake because I speak to large audiences about spiritual matters of the heart that I don’t feel all the time?

I know dry spells are supposed to happen- a natural up-and-down according to the seasons of life. Motivation to pray and do good will wax and wane and that’s fine. What’s not fine, though, is how I act less virtuously when my motivation wanes. I forget to pray until I put my head on the pillow at night, at which time I try to ignore a guilty feeling and gush a quick patch-up prayer before drifting off to sleep. You with me here? Sometimes, yes?

My focus in dry times becomes the pursuit of comfort instead of greatness.

During her dark night of the soul, Mother Teresa still gave every hour of her day to opening new orphanages and poorhouses. I can’t boast of the same… my fantasy imaginings are Caribbean cruises with my husband, sans kids. I can hardly wait til my one-year-old is asleep to reward myself with a glass of wine or tool around the internet. When I’m not thinking of anything else, I build my ultimate dream house of comfort and convenience in my mind. This focus on comfort lessens my appetite for Heaven. I find it incredibly easy to justify my habits with excuses- “I’m still adjusting to motherhood” or “I had a hard day; I’m sure God will understand if I don’t pray.”

What can we do to rekindle our passion for living out the Faith?

Remember that at the end of the day, Christ has given us his heart and we get to choose what we do with that precious gift every moment. When I examine my conscience, he asks me, “How are you taking care of my heart?” Just as every marriage and important relationship requires work, the same is true of my relationship with Christ.

I got really tired of being lukewarm today. I don’t want to be spit out of God’s mouth at the final judgement. (Ew.) Furthermore, when my focus becomes comfort, everything is rather dull and hopeless. That’s an indication that it’s really, really time to move.

I always feel paralyzed when I’m in a slump, but if I just go ahead and take action I’m always glad I did. JP II gives me shivers, he’s so good: “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” Yesss. Get it.

Greatness comes from habit. Each day is your building block toward habits of greatness.

I love this quote from Gladiator: “What we do in life echoes in eternity.” Do, regardless of feelings.Taking action is hard, but think of it as your little building block. You're just putting another little block on your stack in this moment. Feelings will follow. Here are ideas to reinvest in your spiritual life:

  1. Check out my Peace Bucket List to help you prioritize your time.

  2. Read an enriching book, even if you are already too busy. Take it slow and just read a page or two every day. The Diary of St. Faustina, Three to Get Married, and The Fulfillment of All Desire are on my bookshelf.

  3. This is obvious, but go to adoration or daily mass. Like, actually, actually go. Make time and make it happen. Even if you don’t feel anything, you will notice the effects in your life.

  4. Be present to the boring stuff. For me, two simultaneously screaming babies is a daily occurrence, during which time I want nothing more than to check out, hop in a cab and make my way to a grand adventure on another continent. The way forward is the way through. You can make heroic acts of love by loving those God puts in your life in this moment. (Yes, I realize I have italicized a lot of things in this blog post. That’s because I feel strongly about this issue, and I don’t apologize. I want to write as I would speak if we were having coffee together…because I love coffee and I wish I could go out for coffee with all my subscribers.)

  5. Speaking of coffee… drink a cup of coffee and visualize what you want your legacy to be. Write down the things that are important to you. Make a list, if you are a list-maker like me, and take that to adoration. Taking time to really put your priorities in focus can do wonders for helping you spend your ‘now’ wisely.

  6. Strengthen your will by making a choice in advance and sticking to it. Decide what time you will go to bed and don’t let the tempting black hole of the internet suck you in. (This is so hard for me to do!)

Okay, your turn. What ideas do you have to combat spiritual malaise? Or, what strategy or book has helped get you out of a rut? I would love to know. Share in the comments below!

Now off to stick to my resolution of going to bed at a fairly decent hour...

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