I’ve gone to church all my life. I’ve attended services from many different denominations, but I grew up Presbyterian; conservative pres at that, and we’re definitely not the most forthcoming of people. There’s a reason why we’re called the “frozen chosen.”
That didn’t stop me from getting swept up in the excitement of music festivals and seminar, and the emotion of testimonies and alter calls. If it’s really possible to be “on fire for God,” I felt that. Occasionally. It’s hard not to be touched when 80,000 voices are signing hallelujah.
Upon returning to real life, that is, my real frozen chosen, Evangelical Presbyterian church, we were (i kid you not) always subjected to a lecture warning us of the inevitable fall we would have off of our spiritual high.
In a lot of ways they were right to warn us. The idea was to encourage us to not fuse faith with an emotional high. If your faith relied on an emotional high, what would you do in the low points?
On the other hand, I also grew up being taught that God has a physical (okay, spiritual) presence, and that if you don’t feel the spirit, you need to take a closer look at your faith. Other people feel moved by the spirit. Other people feel calmness, or a sense of clarity, or a sense of passion for the word or works of God.
I can’t feel anything, so how on earth am I supposed to feel the presence of an invisible God?
The problem is, I’m now in my twenties and I’m decidedly not an emotional person. I don’t get sad, but I don’t get happy either. I look back at concerts and events that I attended and try to remember the emotion I felt during them, only to realize that I haven’t felt that way in so long–I can’t remember how euphoria feels. I don’t remember what it felt like to have a spiritual high; to be connected to the spirit. I can’t remember the feelings of sobbing, begging, sadness I had a child when I pleaded with God for the life of a family member or friend.
Nothing excites me, nothing upsets me. Part of it is nature; I’m highly depressed and heavily medicated. Part of it is nurture; I was brought up to be logical, not emotional.
When people talk about feeling the spirit now, I struggle with finding a point of reference. I can’t feel anything, so how on earth am I supposed to feel the presence of an invisible God?
Have I reached a point in my faith where my belief hinges on my ability to feel the spirit? No, if that were truly the case, I wouldn’t believe in a great number of things. Happiness doesn’t vanish from the world if I can’t feel it. On the other hand, how can I call myself a christian if I never feel the spirit? I’ve been taught that that’s not possible.
So what do I do? Is this a phase of life? Is this a side effect of medication or mental illness? I’m still a leader in the band at church. I’m still a youth leader. What am I supposed to do if my heart isn’t in it right now for the sake of God?
I think the only thing I can do is to keep on going. I was warned as a kid not to become complacent with my faith; don’t just go through the motions. But what if that’s all you can do?
I enjoy playing music in the band. I love working with the kids. I like discussing social issues through a christian lens, and figuring out where I can be of the most help in this crazy world.
Maybe if I can’t feel God right now, I can just keep going on and do Their works. Maybe that’s what we can do in seasons where we don’t feel God, or anything at all. If we keep our hearts as open as we can, and pour out compassion, empathy, and kindness, maybe the spirit will find its way back in.
If we keep our hearts as open as we can, and pour out compassion, empathy, and kindness, maybe the spirit will find its way back in.