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Languishing

by | May 28, 2021

“Languishing is neither feeling good nor sad. It’s feeling really nothing.” For the last couple of months, the only way that I could describe an overall feeling that I sensed from those around me was “weariness,” and then I read an article by Robin Young and Serena McMahon, May 4, 2021, called “Living, but not Flourishing: The Pandemic-Fueled Feeling Known as ‘Languishing.’” The article included this definition by Corey Keyes. For those of you who are familiar with the comic strip “Peanuts,” I’ll quote the famous young psychiatrist, Lucy, when she would have a revelation and say, “That’s it!”

The article explained that there are numerous terms for this overall feeling of weariness when people just go through the motions of life. Writer, Sarah Ahmed, said that “languishing is essentially described as a feeling of emptiness, numb, feeling stuck, feeling as though we have no motivation, no ability to focus, tasks take longer…” Does any of this sound like something you are experiencing? If so, Ahmed’s advice is the following: “You don’t have to thrive right now. Surviving is okay. Share your feelings. Take one day at a time. Remember that languishing during a pandemic is normal. You’re not losing it. It’s reasonable to feel confused and anxious right now. Go outdoors; set a schedule to allow for breaks. Remember, too, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

The more that I researched this topic, the more that I found. There is actually a really old term for languishing called “acedia.” This term comes from a monk who lived in the fifth century. The monks chose a life of isolation and solitude. The pandemic and governmental responses to it have created social conditions that approximate those of the desert monks. Social distancing has limited physical contact. Lockdowns have constricted physical space and movement. Working from home has upset routines and habits.

The American Psychological Association admits that people with faith can find peace during a pandemic. Researchers and clinicians now see religious belief as an important way to cope. Faith gives us hope; we know that God will use trying times to bring us closer to Him and to make us more like His Son. I can’t say that I’ve been happy about everything that has happened over the last year plus, but I do know that God has promised to be my strength, joy, and peace in difficult times.

I encourage you to take advantage of this time of loosening regulations to get out and spend time with the people that you love. Reconnect. Allow others to encourage you and support you. Share what you are feeling with others and allow them to speak into your life. Community is important. I am so thankful to be a part of the ICSV community. We are cheering you and your children on to finish the year well. And remember, whatever you are feeling, it is normal!

Because of His Faithfulness,
Dr. Sharon Brobst, Director