Oh, former procrastinators, lovely new creations in Christ, I need last month’s reminders about routine. I need them because I’ve been in the doldrums. Listless. Even a little despondent – in low spirits from loss of hope or courage – because of feeling overwhelmed. The doldrums is a period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression. Do you ever feel that way? Like sitting still in the Sea of Plenty to Do – with no wind in your sails?
In the 1800’s the word “doldrum” meant “dull or sluggish fellow.” It probably came from two words meaning “dull” and “tantrum.” A tantrum was a petulant fit; a doldrum was a fit of sloth or dullness. Sailors crossing the equator would sometimes find their ships stuck due to lack of wind. They called these areas the doldrums. Ships were “becalmed,” unable to progress. Reading about the belts of low pressure that circle the earth near the equator and cause the doldrums, I realized they’re a natural occurrence. But no sailor wants to stay there.
So, sometimes this is going to happen. But don’t linger there because the doldrums can lead to a procrastination heyday. Don’t feel like it? Don’t do it. (Danger!)
Becalmed But Not Benign
During this listless period I only wanted my immediate comfort. I thought primarily of myself. This has caused me to think about “the spirit of the age” that we hear about. I’ve been wondering what this means and how the doldrums might relate to that spirit.
Researching a bit, I find “spirit of the age” means the characteristics that define an era, the ideas and values that influence the culture. These can lull us to sleep (See the doldrums?) and cause us to gradually accept those values and attitudes. (Again, the doldrums?) Ephesians 2:2 talks about “walking according to the course of this world.” So whenever one lives, the world supplies ideas and values for all to assume – even believers in Christ.
“We resist the spirit of the age by refusing to worship the idols of the age. And we do this by trusting, obeying, and worshiping the one true God of this and every age.” Dr. Matthew Roberts, Trinity Church York, England.
I was probably my idol during the doldrums. I wanted only what suited my fancy. The course of this world doesn’t always beckon us to violence, greed, or sexual lust. It does always lure us away from God’s Word and truth. It encourages us to disregard Him and exalt ourselves. I felt “blah,” but I was in rebellion because I chose my lazy preferences. Another root meaning of “dol” in doldrums is “fool.” Oh.
The Holy Spirit is the wind for my sails. Time to hoist them! Routine helps us show up no matter what we feel like. When we show up, so does the Wind.
Do you recognize when you’re in the doldrums? What routine helps you hoist your sails and catch the wind of the Holy Spirit’s power?