The past week, I have been in a mental fog. When I find myself in a fog, it feels like an out-of-body experience. I’m watching myself perform my habits, but I don’t live in them. My mind often drifts and my concentration is at an all time low. My creativity takes a giant hit, and I struggle to feel God’s presence. I have to seek Him in order to remind myself he’s there. Remind myself he has promised to never leave me.
Staying connected with him is just as difficult as staying connected with friends and family. My husband often gets frustrated with me when I go through these states as he recognizes something is off, but I cannot find the words to explain to him how I feel or what has changed. All I know is that I need physical attention to be comforted as I struggle to understand what’s happening to me. Two weeks later, I realize that a medication (or two) was being adjusted. It is frustrating how much a little pill can affect my day to day life. If you have a hormonal little pill, I hope I can be bold enough to say you have probably felt the same way.
And I wonder, every time, why God has allowed this.
Why doesn’t He heal me? Why must I struggle with something that others don’t experience, and also cannot understand? It is a hard trial to face, and the end seems constantly illusive. The reality is, it is probably going to happen again and again as my body changes. Sometimes, especially if you struggle with mental illness, you may find yourself in a mental fog.
As I pray about this fog and ask for clarification or direction, or really any kind of help, I heard a small voice asking me to be still. To remind myself of the promises God gives to me, and to take things slow for a moment. When I’m in a fog, my productivity drops drastically. This request was not what I was hoping for. I wanted a caffeinated approach in which God would send energy into my body and allow my mind to clear so I could be able to finish everything that was set aside. Instead, He wants me to slow down more? To be gentle on myself? To take it easy? What was He thinking?
We both knew I was not thinking clearly. So I tried it His way, and I slowed down. And I saw something new in my fog. I saw my habits clearly.
God allowed me to access a different perspective.
I saw myself going through both positive and negative habits.
Change in the things I had asked God to change months ago.
The hope he had for me, in spite of myself.
I saw him working even when I can’t.
He asked me to slow down so I could begin to understand the depths of his love for me. He revealed his plan for my joy. I just needed to slow down to see it. I found perspective through my hardest moments. While I know God mourns the mental weariness and frustration we suffer, he can also use this foggy place to reveal things to us when we are in the habit of searching for him.
2 Peter 1 talks about our growth as Christians moving towards true love. This growth is clearly stated in steps as markers of our growth. These scriptures show a new level of maturity in my relationships with God and others. If we desire these mature and fulfilling relationships, we must continue in these steps.
3 By his divine power the Lord has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of the one who called us by his own honor and glory. 4 Through his honor and glory he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, that you may share the divine nature and escape from the world’s immorality that sinful craving produces.
5 This is why you must make every effort to add moral excellence to your faith;
and to moral excellence, knowledge;
6 and to knowledge, self-control;
and to self-control, endurance;
and to endurance, godliness;7
and to godliness, affection for others;
and to affection for others, love.
8 If all these are yours and they are growing in you, they’ll keep you from becoming inactive and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 Whoever lacks these things is shortsighted and blind, forgetting that they were cleansed from their past sins.
Your ability to seek God and “go through the motions” during a fog is called perseverance and endurance. It is in this moment that we truly see God outside of our pain and emotional fatigue, or we sit in it as blind as always. He has given us promises far beyond our imaginations, including a promise of eternity beyond the suffering of mental illness and pain. If we are holding onto these promises, we can begin to seek his will for our growth. We have been given a way to persevere through following the path of growth laid out for us in 2 Peter, the path that can turn our fog into understanding.
Moral excellence – Knowledge – Self-control – Endurance – Godliness – Affection for others – Love
There is great power in seeking God even when everything in your life seems to be fighting against you and you are exhausted beyond belief. If you don’t feel the faith, but you show it true by continuing in God’s direction, you gain perspective and endurance. Your true power is found in the fog, because you can follow the still, small voice you have been searching so desperately for, but have been too busy to hear.
If you are currently in the fog with me, remember to be still, and listen for God’s voice. He will take you to a place where you can see your faith in action and evaluate the truth of your spiritual state. This does not come through our own ability to check off the growth list, but through the genuine prayer of the suffering child. Know that when you are in the fog, God can meet you there. Be still and patient, He will speak in the quiet and turn your weeping into dancing.