What to do when all doesn’t feel merry and bright
Do you ever feel fleh?
“Fleh” is a completely made-up word in our house used to describe when Ryan or I feel off. We use it when there’s nothing big going on, no major life changes, but there’s a still sadness that’s settled over our souls. Fleh was the best word we could come up with to articulate this unsettling.
I’ve felt fleh this week, and I’ve been trying to figure out why so that I can try to shake it off. Mama ain’t got no time for fleh…especially in this season that begs you to feel merry and bright.
When I feel off, I look for the source, and there are two places I look.
I look internally.
I evaluate myself from the inside out. I start with my eating, sleeping, and quiet-time patterns. Then, I evaluate my hormones, my workout schedule, and my work-play balance.
I go through a full checklist, and if I can’t nail down the culprit, I switch gears.
I look externally.
If the issue isn’t inside me, it’s gotta involve my outside world. I run through my list. How are things with Ryan, the girls, my friends and family? Are there routines to update or conversations to have? Maybe it’s our schedule?
And so on, and so on forever.
When I can’t determine a source, I move on to “If only…”
With an undetermined cause, I beat myself up because, surely, if I could just get my act together, then I would quit feeling fleh.
If Only…I could name what’s troubling me.
We name for a reason. Names carry weight, show intimacy, reveal, and define. When we name the baby or the sin or the emotion, it’s acknowledged so we can move forward in relationship, confession, or restoration.
I am desperate for a definition so that I don’t have to live in the fog of fearful generality—so I can grab control. And, oh, how this try-hard girl likes control because it means I can “fix” myself and move on.
Perhaps even the unnamed feeling of fleh has something to teach me.
If Only…I had more faith.
How many times have we been told that if we just had more faith, the healing would come, the prayer would be answered, or the request would be granted? Umm…a lot.
But faith isn’t a genie in a bottle that does as we bid. Faith isn’t a work that we can attain. Even a weak faith rests on a mighty Savior who holds us in His strong hands. Faith isn’t about me at all but about the Object of it.
Perhaps my fleh isn’t a result of a lack of faith.
If Only…I was more grateful.
When I feel off and look for the source, I see that all really is well. Then I get down on myself for not being more grateful. Can’t I just be thankful that I have a family that loves me, a car that works, and food in the fridge?
I assume that if I had a better idea of how blessed I am, surely I could snap out of it. And yet, my blessings do not negate the sadness I feel, and I know better than to brush it aside.
Perhaps fleh is my unsettled soul trying to speak to me.
When I feel fleh, I need to remember the One who I need.
My unnamed, elusive fleh has me trying hard to find answers. I think that if I could just wrap my mind around what’s going on, if I had more faith, or if I was more thankful, surely I could just snap out of it.
But that’s not how it works—here are two truths to remember:
We are humans, and God is God.
- We are humans designed to quantify, measure, define, and solve.
- God is one of mystery Who sometimes asks us to sit and walk in mystery.
- We are humans who want to explain and understand.
- God gave manna, which means “What is it?” Sometimes He sustains us on that which we don’t understand and cannot explain.
- We are humans who believe in “if this, then that” statements, as if we can draw a line between every action and its reasonable consequence.
- God says that Jesus Christ Himself is a mystery, that the church is a mystery, that His will is a mystery. And His grace, oh His grace, is a mystery.
God doesn’t expect humans to hold themselves together. That’s His job.
Nothing surprises God. He’s overwhelmed by nothing. He’s the only One who created everything, even you. He’s got you and your fleh all figured out.
And because God has everything figured out, He is responsible for holding it all together even when we can’t name it, we have small faith, and we’re not grateful.
Our fleh may not have a source, and we may suffer from “If only,” but we have hope.
‘Tis the season to feel merry and bright, but I’ve felt fleh this week. And I’m guessing at some point, you’ve felt it too.
Let’s remember that the God we love loves us back, He is One of mystery, and He alone holds all things together…even our fleh-filled hearts.