What to do when you can't dig out of the doldrums


By Jessica Brodie

Ever have those dark days? Those days when, no matter how happy you are or how much you’ve achieved, you struggle to get up and go but just can’t? Your legs have become wet spaghetti noodles, your head’s surrounded by fog, and even the slow pace on the treadmill feels like a marathon.

We’ve all been there. Some call it the doldrums, some call it the wilderness, some call it the grumpies. And yet, when it strikes, it always seems to catch us off-guard.

“But I should be so happy!” we cry, befuddled. We’ve met the man of our dreams, landed the perfect job, had that long-desired baby, finally hit our fitness peak. Yet somehow here we are, swamped in the muck of our own lethargy and despair, floundering.

“It’s OK,” we tell ourselves. “I’m just tired. A few days of good shuteye will do the trick.”

But a week of eight-hour-a-night rest doesn’t change things. Neither does a high-powered run or a night of binge-eating Oreos and ice cream.

If any of this sounds familiar, take it from me: You’ve hit what I’ve come to call The D.O.G. Days.

See, there’s a cutesy slogan I’ve seen on coffee mugs and bumper stickers: D.O.G.—Depend on God. Usually there’s a picture of an adorable Chocolate Lab right along with it, tongue lolling and eyes sparkling, giving the impression it’s absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt completely normal to put your life in the hands of the Creator, like there are no Type A, “I’ve Got This!” types out there going stark, raving mad at the prospect of loosening the vice-like grip of control we believe we have over our lives, giving a nonchalant little shrug, and saying, “No worries. No trouble at all. Sure, depend on God!”

Ha. As if the single-hardest thing a person can do isn’t relinquishing control over their own lives to surrender it all to the cross.

But what I’ve learned the hard way, after experiencing a handful of these dark days of unexplained blah-dom, is that the only way out of the pit is to do exactly that: Throw your hands in the air, shrug, and cast it all on God.

And, of course, that’s when it all changes. Almost instantly, in fact. It’s almost like God’s saying, “Ah, I see you there, acting like you’ve got it all together. Let me show you who’s really in charge.” (I don’t actually think He does that, but that’s what it feels like!)

A week or two ago, it happened again to me. Everything had been fantastic. I was feeling good, had my goals down pat—daily Bible reading, devotion time, marketing and blogging, striding along in my novel, carving out great moments with my sweet hubby and kids. Then out of nowhere I was wiped out, my energy gone. Next my daughter got the stomach bug, and things began to spiral from there. Before I knew it I was two days away from production on my newspaper and I still had eight articles to write—and the energy of a sloth on Ambien.

I say I pray through writer’s block, and it’s true, but this time I prayed… and it didn’t come.

I prayed again.


Finally, I got down on my knees and said aloud, “I can’t do this without you, God.”

Long story short, my fingers got to moving, the articles got written, and now the paper’s out. (Thanks, God.)

I guess the big point here, and one it seems to require learning over and over again (for me, anyway) is that I never have it completely together—and frankly, that’s OK. I’m not divine. But somehow, through this one weak, unworthy human soul, God is able to work a miracle again and again… when I ask him to.

So when those “D.O.G. Days” hit, don’t delay. Just give it over to the Lord. Surrender.

It’ll all be a-OK.

Jessica Brodie is a Christian author, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach. Read more of her blogs here, or check out her bio and fiction and journalism work here.