There are times in my life when I have felt stuck.
I’m not talking about having a bad day, feeling low or being down in the dumps.
I’m talking about Louisiana swamp, monster truck mud bogging, suck your shoes off your feet stuck. It’s as if the entire content of my soul; my personality, my creativity, my ability to engage with life – is being sucked into a slow moving vortex of molasses and gorilla glue.
Can I get a witness?
Well fortunately, there is hope. There are ways that we can find help and escape the pull of this Soul Funk rip-tide. In this post, I’m going to be using the metaphor of escaping a rip-tide and then later I’ll give some general tips that I’ve picked up from here and there.
Surviving a Rip-Tide
A rip-tide is a strong, unseen, underwater channel of ocean current that flows seaward. Often you don’t notice you are in the grip of a rip tide. This underwater current slowly pulls its occupants away from the refuge of the shore. By the time you notice that you are in danger you are usually quite a distance from the beach. The normal response is to paddle like hell toward the safety of the coast. Unfortunately it is nearly impossible to out swim a rip tide. The swimmer exhausts himself, panics and then drowns.
But this doesn’t have to be the case. If you are aware and keep calm, you too can survive a rip current – even one that threatens your soul.
- Never Swim Alone: Like the ocean, life is beautiful and a great place to play. It is also wild, deep, unpredictable and can be dangerous. Live your life in intentional and meaningful relationship with others. Pursue a buddy system with strong swimmers.
- Calmly Signal for Help: When you recognize that you are in too deep, send out an S.O.S. to your friends. You can’t expect everyone to notice that you are in over your head, so you must take steps to alert them that you are in trouble. This could be a relative, close friend, pastor or small group leader or even a medical professional. Don’t be too proud or stoic, get help!
- Don’t Panic! The main cause of panic in a Soul Funk is the fear that you will sail out of sight and disappear without anyone knowing that you are gone. Good community and strong friendships will help keep you from drifting away. You’re going to make it. It’s going to be hard and tiring, but you will be able to get through this.
- Conserve Energy: Thrashing against the tide will rarely get you to safety. Sometimes, you just have to tread water and allow the current to carry you. Eventually the rip current will weaken and you will be able to swim to safety. But if you thrash and fight against the current when it is at its strongest…the current will win!
- Swim Along the Shore – Not Toward It: We all want short cuts and the easy way out. But rarely do good things in life come from half measures. We may want the Funk to just disappear, but unfortunately we can’t just wish it away. As I’ve already stated, you can’t swim directly against a rip-tide, but you can out swim it! How? By calmly swimming parallel to the shore. These rip currents don’t go on forever and cover the entire coast line. So by swimming parallel to the beach you will eventually be free of the current and be able to swim to the shore. How do we relate this to being caught in a soul funk? You are not helpless. You can’t give up. You are going to have to swim like hell. You can’t always count on Mitch Buchanan dragging you to safety and getting mouth to mouth from C.J. Parker once on the shore. You’ve got to be smart and strong and you’ll be able make it home. It may seem that you are going away from where you want to be and take longer than you want, but you are moving away from trouble, remember.
I don’t want to come off as trite or simplistic. If you have a history of depression, you need to seek medical help – period. But if you’re in a bit of Soul-Funk, don’t panic, seek help, conserve energy and swim along the shore. Next time, I have a bunch of tips that may also help you survive the Funk night of the soul.
‘Nuff Said, Godspeed, Stay tuned-in,