Feeling flat and empty can become an invite to feeling full of depth and not a step into depression. Focusing in on something and someone bigger than ourselves can revive a flagging soul.
There are times when I feel flat. Life feels meaningless and like its one cyclical trip of activity to be followed by numbness and feeling dead.
Question: What do you call Batman and Robin after they have been run over by a steamroller?
Answer: Flatman and Ribbon.
The joke maybe mildly funny, but within it, there is a sense of being crushed under, spread out and a loss of purposeful identity.
Flatness feels like
- There is little motivation to do anything.
- Nothing brings pleasure or life.
- A bottle of coke that has had its cap taken off and the fizz has flown away.
There could be a number of reasons why you’re feeling this way but under all of those reasons is the truth that you’re human.
One of the false beliefs I think we are sold in our world is that you can have everything.
The other day I was watching an On-demand TV show when an advertisement began.
Here was an attractive young lady, running on a treadmill. A slight gleam of perspiration glowed off her sleek, toned body.
Running hard, she watched on a monitor some equally toned up super hunk running a cliffside track shouting out encouragements.
She then lifted weights with him. Her gym was, of course, in her beautiful home overlooking a beach with wide expansive views.
If you’re on her treadmill chasing his dreams and forking out energy you don’t have then expect to fall flat on your face with exhaustion.
We have our limits. We are not machines or energizer bunnies hooked up to the national grid.
Were not the treadmill for others to pound their feet upon.
You don’t have wings so don’t try to fly.
We don’t have a soul.
We are a soul.
We happen to have a body.
Where you focus
Where you focus, you will go.
I have found that when I focus in on my feelings of being flat, then my thoughts can very easily slip into the negative, depressive ruts that I have dug over many years.
Its a slippery slope between feeling flat and sinking into the malaise of depression. They are always connected, and it’s a trip so easily taken.
The morning star
This morning I rose at 5 am to write. It is summer time here in New Zealand so it was still dark, but some light was starting to break the darkness.
I looked up into the night sky, and there was a star shining brightly. It was Venus.
A bright light, shining in the darkness.
It wasn’t airbrushed or manicured. No marketing guru could add a spin on to it — Venus, shining, reflecting and beaming reality to me in real time.
I was busy in ministry about 20 years ago when Spirit (Holy) dropped a truth bomb into my soul.
Still candles burn brighter
Have you ever noticed how when you’re moving (say on a treadmill) with a candle that the flame gets smaller and smaller?
That is because there is friction between the surrounding air and the flame.
The more you rush, the more you do, the smaller the flame. Then it completely goes out.
Instead, you have to shield that flame or even better become completely still and allow that flame to suck up all the oxygen available to itself and burn with full vigor.
Feeling flat is not new
This feeling of being flat is not new. It’s been around ever since we thought we could outrun God.
God comes to a man called Jeremiah and speaks these strange words.
So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out [feeling flat] in this footrace with men,
what makes you think you can race against horses? Jeremiah 12:5
Are you running a race with men and getting worn out? Then try running a race with horses and see how worn out and flat you’ll be then.
The God of endless energy
This last year I walked the Camino de Santiago. If I had walked this journey by myself with no one else around I, think that I would have easily got fatigued, tired and gone flat on the idea.
Instead, it was a journey made with others. Along with my wife, we walked with other pilgrims. We had similar stories, sore feet, and aching bones.
A songwriter once penned some words for a group of pilgrims to sing on their human experience.
I look up to the mountains;
does my strength come from mountains?
No, my strength comes from God,
who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.
Psalm 121 The Message (MSG)
I kind of imagine one part of the pilgrim group singing the first line, then the other section of the band of travelers responding with the second line.
My strength in those desert experiences of flatness doesn’t come from a mountain, a morning star, a beautiful rose or a playful puppy. It comes from the God that breathed this all into creation.
It comes from a stillness, a silence, and a solitude of the soul where I can soak in Gods love and eternal perspective.
Thankfulness fills us with truthful reality.
When we create daily and weekly habits of focusing in on the real rhythm of life we attune ourselves to hear the alluring knock on the door from our lover to ‘Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away’ Song of Solomon 2:10
Feeling flat and empty can become an invite to feeling full of depth and not a step towards depression. Focusing in on something/ someone bigger than ourselves can revive a flagging soul.
Quotes to Consider
- If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world. C.S. Lewis
- Exhaustion is a thin blanket tattered with bullet holes. Matthew De Abaitua
- When you rest in the Father’s embrace, unexplainable peace fills the center of your soul. Larry Crabb
- The brain takes its shape from what the mind rests upon. If you keep resting your mind on self-criticism, worries, grumbling about others, hurts, and stress, then your brain will be shaped into greater reactivity, vulnerability to anxiety and depressed mood, a narrow focus on threats and losses, and inclinations toward anger, sadness, and guilt.
If you keep resting your mind on good events and conditions (someone was nice to you, there’s a roof over your head), pleasant feelings, the things you do get done, physical pleasures, and your good intentions and qualities, then over time your brain will take a different shape, one with strength and resilience hardwired into it, as well as a realistically optimistic outlook, a positive mood, and a sense of worth.
Rick Hanson Hardwiring Happiness: The Practical Science of Reshaping Your Brain—and Your Life
Questions to answer
- What causes do you attribute a sense of feeling flat too?
- Rick Hanson writes ‘The brain takes its shape from what the mind rests upon.’ Where are you directing your brain to rest upon?
- How can you slow down and allow your candle to burn brighter?
Image cc: Evie Shaffer
Listen to audio file of ‘How to Restore your Soul when Feeling Flat and Drained Out?’ 10.22 min