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Healing Presence

Healing Acedia

February 27, 2014

tree shining

Part 2

(see part 1: “The Kind of Depression Medicine Can’t Touch”)

Acedia is a form of depression that medicine can’t touch. It’s a deep and tragic disconnect between one’s will and his being. Basically, he has chosen not to become who he was created to be.

Here, we want to look at a pathway to healing…

Several years ago, my wife Bonnie and I were living in Kansas City and one night she woke up feeling sick. A few minutes later, our carbon monoxide detector started blaring. She was 7 months pregnant at the time. We called 911 and within 15 minutes she was being rushed by ambulance to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning. Neither of us had smelled anything. Once at the hospital, they placed her in a hyper-barrack chamber and flooded her body with pure oxygen.

At times, we need a spiritual equivalent to such a chamber that will purge the poison and breathe new life into our souls. There’s no single pathway to healing acedia, but the ingredients are the presence and power of the living God, His word, wise counsel, and prayer. I recommend a few steps to get started:

Start a soul detox

Get rid of anything that has become a crutch. For sure, eliminate media, alcohol, and anything else that distracts you from God or tempts you to sin. Eat well, get adequate sleep, and de-stress your schedule. In the margin you’ve now created, read scripture and develop or renew your prayer life. If you’re not sure where to start, check out Richard Foster’s book, “Prayer.”

-Enlist some help

Find someone who understands healing prayer and can serve as an encourager, prayer and accountability partner on your pathway to healing.

-Go forward by first going backwards 

This may not sound like good news, but you need to confront your past.

A refusal to confront the past is a refusal to face present day reality.

Your past affects you whether you acknowledge it or not. William Wordsworth once wrote, “The child is the father of the man.”

The first step to freedom begins with a release from past bondage. A great book that describes such a process is “Restoring the Christian Soul” by Leanne Payne.

Some specific questions to pray about:

What do you most fear? Why? Be honest.

What are your signature wounds? How have you dealt with them?

Where are you struggling to receive or give forgiveness?

Schedule a spiritual retreat

Bonnie and I have greatly benefited from programs at Christian retreat centers and monasteries. It’s easy to fall into a restless activism and overlook the care of our souls, and retreats are great ways to experience spiritual renewal and receive revelation from God. When we unplug, we’re simply more receptive.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.  -Matthew 7:24-27

Any other recommendations?


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That Restless Hollow Feeling You Can’t Shake…Here’s The Deal

February 26, 2014


Part one.

“I struggle with a chronic but low level depression and am not sure why.”

“I don’t vacillate between high’s and low’s. I usually just feel numb.”

“Often, I feel like there’s a wall between me and other people.”


Such statements are symptoms of acedia. It’s a word that needs to reenter our vocabulary because so many people struggle with it. The Greek root means, “negligence,” and its often used to describe a state of restlessness or apathy. But in the ancient world, the understood cause of acedia was a deep and tragic disconnect between one’s will and his being. Basically, he had chosen not to become who he was.

Your life has been pre-imaged in the eyes of God. There is a “true self” in you that God is always calling forth. The closer you grow to God, the more your true self will emerge. When you choose not to become who God has created you to be, acedia is the result.

The problem with acedia is that we seldom address the root problem.

Instead of allowing God to heal us at our core (fill deep deficits, align our will and being, and speak the gift of identity and vocation) we…


Distract ourselves with ambitious pursuits (“Once I can have or become____, life will feel full.”) 

Engage in self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors

Basically, in one way or another, we settle for a pseudo-life. Fears have won out. Vision has faded. A passive resignation has set in. Our will has atrophied. We still sail through our days, but deep down, we’ve checked out. There’s no rudder and not much of an engine left. So, we settle for cheap pleasures and avoid risks.

Tomorrow, we’ll start on the pathway to healing.

In the meantime, if you resonate with such descriptions, here are a few things you can do:

-Avoid introspection

What you focus on expands.

When your thoughts are toxic and turned inward, you are gravitating toward hell. Lift your eyes off yourself and set your mind on what’s good and pure (Philippians 4:8, 2 Corinthians 10:5).

Pray Ephesians 3: 16-21:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Change your daily rhythm 

Find some simple ways to choose life today. What’s most life giving to you? Schedule it tomorrow. Who’s the most life-giving person you know? Call him or her today and schedule a time to get together. It’s not the solution itself, but it will inject an extra dose of joy while you work toward it.


How have you seen acedia manifest in your life or others? How have you dealt with it?

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