Lingering and languishing are two words murmuring in my mind and heart lately. I haven’t heard anyone said these two words out loud, but sense many people feel empty, depleted, and lack the energy even to linger and savor the present time.
We fixate on the never-ending pandemic dominating our lives, news, and choices. We then play the “someday when we can be normal again” game, focusing on the future.
“Part of the danger is that when you’re languishing, you might not notice the dulling of delight or the dwindling of drive. You don’t catch yourself slipping slowly into solitude; you’re indifferent to your indifference. When you can’t see your own suffering, you don’t seek help or even do much to help yourself.”
Great quote from an article in the NY Times so well written by Adam Grant and titled “There’s a Name for the Blah You’re Feeling: It’s Called Languishing.” It opens with this sentence: “The neglected middle child of mental health can dull your motivation and focus — and it may be the dominant emotion of 2021.”
He explains that “It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity…you’re indifferent to your indifference. When you can’t see your own suffering, you don’t seek help or even do much to help yourself.”
This article names what many of us face right now. We are ok yet not all ok. His antidote is to give ourselves uninterrupted time; to get into the flow of something.
I think lingering, especially in prayer, is a better cure for languishing.
The one spiritual practice that I have found most helpful during the pandemic has been contemplative prayer and the longer the better. Twenty minutes or so every morning, resting in God’s presence, in silence and stillness, lingering in His light and love brightens and fills my soul.
- Lingering to savor that first sip of hot coffee gives me joy.
- Lingering by the window, looking upward and outward gives me hope.
- Lingering in my office and saying hello to the array of birds gathered together by the backyard feeder brings me delight.
- Lingering in the memory of the activities and people we took for granted that we no longer have due to Covid brings me sadness and appreciation of all we do possess.
- Lingering into a good book, highlighting words I don’t want to forget brings me wisdom.
- Lingering in the moment just before worship begins brings me gratitude to be able to praise God together as the body of Christ.
- Lingering just before sleep descends, listening to Bill’s snoring (I am grateful for our many years together and he is healthy and next to me – a gift some friends no longer have so I even savor his snoring) warms me with love.
- Lingering as I drift off to sleep, resting in God once again, brings me peace.
I choose lingering over languishing.
What about you? Are you lingering or languishing?