Stress definitely does a number on the mind and body.
To say my religious life has suffered lately would be a massive understatement. Oh, I’ve gotten writing done, and praying, and I’m still chugging along, but I feel exhausted. I get writing done but it’s all circles and spirals and messes. My writing buds on the vine but it doesn’t blossom. The ideas crowd each other out and then none of them have time to come to fruition due to my exhaustion. My offerings are, well, offered, but not heartfelt.
People have written before that being in a stressful, unsafe, or unstable environment can really mess you up. It can have long term effects, and usually it just makes every already difficult part of being alive even harder. I’m not sure I really want to get into details but – my life is stressful and has been for a long time.
For me, religion was both a type of salvation and a type of damnation. Being faithful was as natural to me as breathing. Prayer felt wonderful. I felt comforted, and peaceful, and safe (all things I didn’t feel before). But being religious caused tensions, frustrations, and fights. I was comforted internally, but the stress externally just continued to pile on.
Life was always unstable, and I learned to handle that as I grew up.
It seems that the stress has reached a point where it is very seriously impairing my religious practice, though. During such times, we’re supposed to turn to our gods, not give up our prayers and rituals, etc. Which makes sense, and is very nice, and it is important to continue building and sustaining our practice so that it can sustain us during times like these. Often, even when I was trying to stitch together a practice from various pieces, when I was still very green, prayer and faith got me through. I had my daily work and I could do it. I had goals, and I could pursue them. My religion was my foundation, and it was unshakeable.
If only more prayers could fix this.
It seems that it is impious to doubt, to falter. Even more so since I’m founding a religion and all that gunk. It is not a doubt in my gods, or their existence, or the spirits. That doubt has rarely found me and nested in my heart. But it is doubt of my ability to walk, to speak, to be. I doubt, I suppose, the meaning of this work. Oh yes, the gods and spirits enjoy the stories I make, and the interpretations I give them – sometimes agreeing, sometimes laughing, sometimes just holding silence – but I’m not one of those super pious spirit workers who gets off only on that.
It is not that I don’t have plans. I have so many plans, I add more and cut more every day. I am capable of planning and dreaming and accomplishing goals.
But I have found that place that my faith cannot help, that my religion cannot touch, that my gods cannot assist in. Not for lack of their dominion over this area of my life, or for lack of their presence, but because this is mine, not theirs.
And that is a change, and my feet are slipping as I adjust, but I suppose there is something to be said for the volume of work I have put out during this stressful period – even if I haven’t been able to publish most of it.