Being a Christian has never been an easy gig.
There are more rules you have to abide by, regular obligations you must keep and a prayer routine you need to incorporate into your daily life – and all these apply even more stringently if you’re Catholic or Orthodox.
Of course, we Christians would argue that because of this, life has much greater depth, purpose and meaning as well. Penance and mortification, fasting and abstinence, keeping up daily prayer – these are all hard, but then we also get to experience the love and mercy of Jesus Christ, which makes all the challenges of Christianity more than worth it. Not to mention the abundant graces God showers on us when we actively trust Him and do His will.
However, being a Christian seems to have gotten so much harder in recent times. I’m not talking about the last few decades, I’m talking about the last 10 years.
Maybe it’s just me, but the combination of instantaneous information consumption (via social media) and the steep nosedive the world has taken towards self-destruction through the vehicles of political correctness, identity politics, modernism, et al, seem to have ramped things up in intensity, and in a very short space of time.
The moral malaise that has gripped our civilisation is spreading, and spreading fast, and in its wake has emerged what I can only describe as a spiritual fatigue. Just being a Christian today is positively exhausting!
Virtually every single time we read the news, watch online videos or view our social media feeds we’re subjected to a barrage of politically-charged nonsense aimed at attacking or undermining our most fundamental beliefs, often in the guise of innocent, compassionate (virtue-signalling) sentiment.
Even if you only view news sites or watch videos that reflect your own world view, they still discuss or expose the outright insanity that the world has begun to clothe itself in; or you might be exposed to ads that do the same thing. It is impossible to escape.
I’m not saying we should get off social media entirely to avoid all this (although I think that would probably do everyone a lot of good) because there is arguably something to be gained by keeping voices that oppose the mainstream present in these spaces. Also for some, it may be their only outlet to hear from and speak to other like-minded people. Perhaps social media is a necessary evil now. Yet escaping from the online world doesn’t address the main problem, either.
Even if we switch off social media and news outlets, the constant attacks on our faith will still continue to happen in the world around us. Not exposing ourselves to them might bring some (temporary) peace of mind, but protecting ourselves through ignorance cannot be the solution either.
I guess what I’m trying to acknowledge here is that if you’re feeling this spiritual fatigue like I am, that’s okay! In fact, I think it’s completely normal, given the circumstances. I’m not even really in the firing line like many other brave souls who are publicly fighting for Christian values. But you don’t have to be to feel the effects of this malaise.
For some of us, all we can do is grit our teeth and bear it, to keep our jobs, to keep our friends, or simply to get through the day. And that can be exhausting. It’s exhausting in a way non-Christians probably cannot comprehend. Christians have faced many hard times throughout the last 2000 years, and this is no exception. I’m tempted to say it’s worse than it’s ever been because, unlike the outright persecution Christians faced in the past, this nefarious, subtle pressure to conform is constant. Dripping away at our resolve like water on a stone. In some ways I think it would be better to be persecuted openly, because at least it would very quickly separate the wheat from the chaff in the Church.
Apart from having an active prayer life and a loving, trusting relationship with God, it’s important to support each other through these hard times. If I’m feeling it, and you’re feeling it, then at least we know the spiritual fatigue is real and shared. It means we don’t need to feel so isolated, or that there’s something wrong with us.
There is nothing wrong with you – the world is what’s wrong. Our society, which celebrates sin and condemns virtue, is what’s wrong. That’s what’s twisted; that’s what’s upside down. And as with women who get so discouraged they’re tempted to throw away their values for the sake of a relationship, there is a very real temptation to fall in line with the world; to abandon our values and what God commands of us because it’s so much easier to conform.
Yet it is crucial not to despair! And I think the only way to get through this trying period with our hope intact is through prayer and communion with our fellow Christians. If you don’t have good Christian friends or a Christian community, or at least one which shares your values, find one – even if it’s just online. Having a community of support is vital, and second in importance only to prayer. We need to pray for the strength to endure all the trials we’re facing or will face in our lives. We need to pray every single day, morning and night (and in between if you can manage it).
Our Lord told us not to worry, and we shouldn’t. But I think it is important to acknowledge that it takes a lot of strength and conviction to remain true to our Christian beliefs in the face of such antagonism and opposition. So don’t be hard on yourself. Acknowledge that it’s tough, but that Christ will always give you the strength and the grace to get through whatever trials and challenges He lets you face – as long as you turn to Him!
Lord, thank you for the beauty and love you scattered on my path, they reminded me of your constant presence.
Thank you for the challenges, they reminded me of my weakness.
Thank you for my confusion, it reminded me to call upon your presence. Amen.