March 8, 2024

Joyful Witness / Kimberly Pohovey

Spiritual slump leads to realization of contentment

Kimberly PohoveyThere have been times in my life when I have felt I am absolutely bursting with faith. I have also clung desperately to my faith in times of hardship. But now isn’t either one of those times.

In the past, I would say I have experienced great peaks and valleys—depending on the events that have unfolded in my life.

When life was fantastic, I felt on fire for my faith and wanted to shout my joy to God from a mountain top. When I experienced great difficulty, I agonizingly cried out to God to lift me from the valley. Both situations left me with the overwhelming sense of God’s presence in my life.

As I look back, I fear my prayer life might have been based only on significant events in my life—as if I’m some sort of spiritual drama junkie.

Where I am in my life today isn’t dramatic. I am neither experiencing a high or low. If anything, I feel like I’m living on a plateau.

My life is calm, fulfilling and enjoyable, but not overly exciting. And I think because there isn’t much drama in my life, I find myself not quite knowing what to do in terms of prayer. I feel like I’m in a spiritual slump.

Have you ever had times like this in your life? You’re neither running toward God nor turning your back on him. You’re just in a stagnant spot. Stagnancy leads me to feel lazy. I repeat the same prayers every day. I attend Mass and pray the rosary without any great enthusiasm, and it’s not that I feel very distant from God; it’s more that I lack any great emotion in my spiritual life.

In between the Church’s liturgical seasons, we celebrate ordinary time. That’s how I would describe my faith right now. I feel as if I’m stuck there. I have nothing over-exciting to report to or pray for from God. So, what to do?

As I have talked with God about this slump, the first thought that occurred to me is that it’s OK. Even St. Teresa of Calcutta confessed to long periods of spiritual dryness in her life. Perhaps it is these stretches that make us appreciate our more fervent experiences of prayer and faith.

As I reflect on my situation, I believe God might be trying to convey to me that I should be glad for the ordinary.

Prior peaks and valleys in my life have generally come at a cost. Maybe God just wants me to celebrate the calm. I keep ruminating on the Scripture passage “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:11). Just maybe God has called me to this season of my life not to feel as if I’m in a slump, but to sit in his stillness and simply bask in the knowledge that he is by my side.

In the past, I felt that if I didn’t keep moving, I wasn’t growing, being productive or accomplishing anything. The more I think about it, maybe God is trying to tell me that sometimes the status quo is what we need.

God knows I’ve experienced enough drama for one lifetime. Maybe he is calling me to the calm. Maybe what I thought was a slump is actually … his peace.

(Kimberly Pohovey is a member of St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis. She is the director of major and planned gifts for the archdiocese.) †

Local site Links: