Stop the Sludge

I want to invite you into hope. Into a world with less anxiety. Into a less distracted, more purposeful, wildly optimistic living.

You and I have been allowing sludge into our systems. What is sludge? Dirty oil, mud, muck, mire, ooze, silt, dirt, slime, slush, slurry, sediment, dregs, grounds, residue, gunk, crud…you get the picture. (thank you, trusty Mac thesaurus)

You’ve felt it on your soul. It has affected your body. It weighs you down. It distracts you from the Father’s Business.

I can’t define what sludge is for you. It’s anything that fills your mind with things you can do nothing about. Of course, our believing-prayer moves mountains, and we must always pray. But what I’m describing is things in your regular sphere of influence.

If my regular focus is on things outside my sphere of influence, I will feel hopeless, powerless, despondent, distressed, discouraged, and depressed.

This “regular focus” can be tricky. It usually seems innocuous. Safe. Non-toxic.

For example, I live in Costa Rica and work primarily with churches in the US. I feel a certain sense of responsibility to be in touch with life as my coaches and churches know it. So I have a routine of checking various news outlets each day. Granted, there have been more sensational news stories in 2020 than in recent memory, but if I’m honest, a combination of curiosity, occasional boredom, and feeling a lack of control have led to checking in multiple times each day. I think, “I can take it.” But the anxiety I feel in my core tells me otherwise.

Or for example, my wife is justice-oriented. She has signed up for several emails that keep her up to date on issues she cares about. But in this attention-competitive world, email subject lines must attract attention if they are to further their cause. And even though she wants to read much of this content, the sensational subject lines alone often trigger fear, anxiety, and despair.

We have decided to take the last two weeks of 2020 and the first two weeks of 2021 and unplug from the sludge. I won’t read any news, and she won’t read her email subscriptions (expect for beloved Sally Clarkson.) :)

Can I tell you what you’ve probably already guessed? I haven’t felt that unwelcome yet familiar sense of anxiety since we started a week ago.

You also probably already know what the sludge is for you. Will you join us in taking space from it as we complete a challenging year and consecrate a new one?

2 Corinthians 7:1 has inspired us: “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit (read: sludge), bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.”

- Dave