Friday, March 20, 2009

Start Small

I've been feeling in a "funk" lately.  I realize that "funk" is a very ambiguous word, but for lack of a better one I'm sticking with it.  I've been unmotivated and lazy, and depressed about how unmotivated and lazy I am.  Even on my days off, when I'm allowed to relax and be unproductive, I end the day thinking about what a waste it was.  
Spring break was last week, and I went on a mission trip with La Roche College students to do reconstruction work in New Orleans, LA.  I'm sure I was in my funk for at least a month before the trip, but last week was fantastic!  I love going on trips and spending extended time with people, getting to know about their lives, investing and serving and living.  I like using power tools and learning new skills, and helping other people do the same.  Even though the bathroom situation was inconvenient (there was only one, and we had to switch between males and females every half hour!), I like brushing my teeth and blowdrying my hair next to someone else.  I like mission trips simply for the fun of it.  
But this trip helped me to rediscover something that I've been missing for a while.  One of the results, or perhaps one of the causes of my funk was that I was feeling very down about my ministries, both with the youth group and at La Roche.  I haven't felt good at my job; I've felt unsuccessful and burned out.  Last week I felt good again -- I was engaging students, helping them make connections, asking good questions, challenging people and not letting them settle for easy answers...  I rediscovered my passion for college students last week.  I got some wonderful encouragement from some of the other adults on the trip, too, which was like icing on the cake.
We've been home for almost a week now, though, and today I could start to feel the funk creeping back in.  How do I keep it at bay?

We had some students over for dinner tonight, and after dinner we dyed Easter eggs.  After they left, the kitchen was covered with dirty dishes, newspaper, and traces of egg dye.  I am not a terribly neat person -- my usual reaction would be to leave the mess for the morning, when it would get left until later, which would get left until the next day, until the next day becomes an impossible mess.  But for some reason tonight, instead of leaving it all for "later," I just started cleaning.  I loaded the dishwasher, threw away the trash, put the leftovers in the refrigerator, washed the dishes, folded up the newspaper, took the extra leaf out of the table, wiped off the counters...  And I feel good!  
I'm starting to realize how much the different areas of my life affect each other.  I've been talking about this for years -- the CCO idea of zero dualisms, that our faith impacts all areas of our lives.  But it goes both ways.  God speaks into the ways I drive and eat, and how messy my room is affects my spiritual wellbeing (albeit indirectly).  For now, I'm pledging to do the small things - cleaning my dishes instead of piling them next to the sink, putting dirty clothes in the hamper instead of leaving them where I dropped them, leaving five minutes early for a meeting so that I'm not stressed by heavy traffic, wearing sunglasses, and having fresh flowers in the house.  And little by little I think I'll rediscover the things I've been missing for so long.