“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:
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?