Like walking pneumonia, we wake up one morning caught in the grips of a full blown case of “spiritual malnutrition.” We feel drained, like a sucked-out orange thrown by the side of the road.
Our depressed mood makes everything we do such an effort, even praying to God, much less taking part in the activities of our local congregation.
The symptoms include acting crabby, short-tempered, profane or feeling discouraged and self-centered. Symptoms can include an inability to cope, a loss of creativity and imagination, little or no sense of humor.
It can also manifest as being no fun to be around, accident-prone, a poor listener, or easily incapacitated by adversities.
At least, these are the ways my life has felt or been affected when I have suffered from spiritual malnutrition.
For most of us believers, we don’t purposely neglect to meet our spiritual hungers. We become busy at work or home or school. The world we live in, however, is too complex and fraught with economic reversals and pitfalls for us to rely simply on our human resources to make us feel secure and in-charge of our areas of responsibilities.
The stress of maintaining a meaningful marriage and family relationships drain us emotionally if we neglect to call upon God regularly to help us. When we attend services, we need to shift some of the responsibility for providing spiritual nourishment from our worship leaders to our own shoulders.
Do we listen to the words of the choir’s anthems? Do we arrive early enough for worship so we can enter into a mood to participate more wholeheartedly in the worship service?
We need to accept the fact that we need God’s presence, power, and peace to go about our daily activities and to get along with others.
Cure for spiritual malnutrition can be like a bad case of pneumonia and require drastic action to restore our spiritual perspective and replenish our spiritual nutrients. The best way to become spiritually well again is to take part in a spiritual life retreat, which can be done many ways, depending upon what one can afford and has access to. Some local congregations offer one each year.
Denominations regularly offer such retreats for members. I would encourage those of you reading this article to contact your local pastor, priest or rabbi and discuss this matter.
To prevent spiritual malnutrition, the obvious answer is to take full advantage of what your local congregation offers seasonally and each week. Let us take time to allow God’s Holy Spirit to nourish us with the “bread of heaven.”
Is that not what Jesus meant when he said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry”?
THE REV. GENE NORRIS IS A PRESBYTERIAN PASTOR IN AUGUSTA.