Your Longing Has a Name

Dominic DoneBy Dominic DoneAugust 11, 20227 Minutes

Excerpt taken from Chapter 1 “Step Into the Story” from Your Longing Has a Name: Come Alive to the Story You Were Made For by Dominic Done

 

When Your Soul Is Weary

Magic, ruined.

I can’t help but think of those words when I reflect on the human experience and how our individual lives are often caught off guard by life’s intrusions. We’ve all been there. Especially, it seems, over the last few years.

Disruption has come to us through a pandemic: the sting of grief and loss; trying to navigate work, school, and church via Zoom; racial, social, and political tension; global unrest and economic anxiety; not to mention the complex emotional struggles each of us has waded through. This has been a time of turmoil at every level, and our souls feel it.

Maybe for you, a relationship has been shattered because of a political disagreement, or a career you invested in for years dissolved because of budget cuts. An addiction you thought you’d buried suddenly reemerged during months of lockdown, or your trust in God has buckled under the weight of deconstruction. Whatever you’re dealing with, there’s no doubt that you join the overwhelming majority of us who now know what it’s like when the magic is ruined.

Recent polls in the United States reveal how we’re struggling physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally:

• 75 percent are overwhelmed by stress3
• 72 percent are exhausted4
• 68 percent feel defeated5
• 67 percent struggle with loneliness6
• 48 percent say they’re hopeless7

The number of people who believe their lives are “thriving” has dropped to a low not seen since the Great Recession.8 According to Harvard University, 51 percent of young Americans say they’re discouraged. In the same survey, the majority describe having little energy, struggling with sleep, or finding “little pleasure in doing things.”9 It’s almost like we’re living NF’s haunting song “I’ll Keep On.” Our souls are tired.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong.

Maybe what we’re seeing and experiencing is a collective fatigue that goes well beyond whatever’s happening out there; it’s more like something inside us is broken. The spiritual writer Thomas Moore once said the “great malady” of the modern age is “loss of soul.”10 If true, that’s a more harrowing diagnosis than you may realize. Your soul is everything. If your soul is flourishing, nothing you go through can destroy you. If your soul is crumbling, nothing you go through can heal you. The health of your soul shapes the outcome of your life.

You’ll know when something is wrong with your soul. How? It might manifest as negative thinking, restlessness, abrupt changes in emotion, an underlying sense of anxiety, disconnection from others, indifference, lack of aspiration, or burnout that no amount of sleep or time off can fix. A disordered soul is perpetually weary. In so many conversations lately, when I ask friends how they’re really doing, they reply with a single word: exhausted.

Can you relate?

I’m not just talking about the kind of fatigue you have from staying up late, bingeing Netflix, or not having enough caramel macchiatos to jump-start your day. I’m talking about a soul-fatigue you endure in a visceral, all-of-life way. There is a kind of weariness that hits you in your gut: a gnawing, restless ache that tells you something is deeply wrong.

A recent article in the New York Times described our emotional state as “languishing.” Languishing is a feeling of “stagnation and emptiness,” the unshakable sense you’re merely surviving instead of thriving.11 Languishing is lostness. It’s a lot like the German word unheimlich, or as the philosopher Heidegger put it, a profound sense of “not-being-at-home.”12 It’s the restlessness that comes when you’re lonely, adrift, or out of place. You might feel cold, numb, or indifferent; you scarcely remember the fire that once drove you to dream, risk, and step out. A while back I had a chat with someone who was walking through a season of loss, which led to a crisis of faith. He admitted the problem wasn’t that he felt too much but that he felt too little. His struggles had left him emotionally detached and spiritually disoriented.

“I just feel so empty.”

As he continued to share, my heart went out to him. I recalled Jesus’ invitation for the weary and burdened: “Come to me . . . for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28–29).

When Jesus promises rest, he doesn’t mean a longer vacation, a lighter schedule, or a break from the office. He’s speaking of a place where your inner life thrives and blooms with virtue. It’s the possibility of green pastures and still waters that David foreshadowed in Psalm 23:3: “He restores my soul” (nkjv).

Taken from “Your Longing Has a Name: Come Alive to the Story You Were Made For”. Copyright 2022 by Dominic Done. Used with permission from Thomas Nelson.

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