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As we speak our country’s leadership is in a complete political deadlock. Hundreds of thousands have been left without a paycheck, historic parks and landmarks are closed nationwide, the CDC is frighteningly understaffed as we enter flu season and face a salmonella outbreak, and you are probably being affected in more ways than you realize. Devastating consequences over political squabbling and bickering…the consequences of a government shutdown.

A spiritual shutdown is when we become so emotionally overwhelmed, angry, or hurt, that we shutdown internally and refuse to budge when people try to intervene. A spiritual shutdown can be triggered by anything, can last days or weeks, and can affect those closest to us. To avoid being subject to such a condition, consider adopting these attributes:

Vulnerability: What Do You Really Want?

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.

James 4:1-2

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Proverbs 13:12

Politicians aren’t known for being completely forthcoming. They have a reputation for not saying what’s really on their mind, because they represent the agendas of their various constituents. A politician will, by design, never able to be fully honest about what they actually desire, so long as they’re mostly interested in being liked, or reelected.

When you’re in a spiritual shutdown, it’s easy to feel like the world’s against you for no particular reason. To avoid this scenario, the first step you’ll need to take is to take an honest self evaluation. What do you really want? What were you hoping for that didn’t happen? What’s got you feeling so insecure? It takes vulnerability, and that vulnerability is the first step towards softening your heart and mending relationships.

Understanding: What’s the Purpose of Your Pain?

3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5

Hopelessness is the most obvious sign of a spiritual shutdown…when you’re at the point where you no longer believe change is possible for you or those around you, you develop a defeatist mentality that is infectious. As the nation continues to watch Congress spend day after day at failed negotiations, many people are abandoning hope that our democratic process is what we thought it was.

Spiritual shutdown often comes when we choose to deal with pain in a way that doesn’t lead to any understanding. It’s when we come to an understanding of what’s happening to us that we find purpose, and this allows us to persevere. Whether it’s that rejection you experienced from the opposite sex, or the hurt feelings induced from something said in passing by a friend, there is almost certainly some undealt with pain that you can dig up. Avoiding spiritual shutdown will require choosing another way to deal with pain: perseverance.

Connection: Who Are Your Friends in the Clutch?

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25

12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Hebrews 3:12

The biggest reason for the government shutdown has been Congress’s complete refusal to compromise in relationships from the opposing party. Relational stubbornness is a dangerous affliction, as it almost certainly guarantees isolation and elongating of a shutdown, be it political, spiritual or emotional.

The Bible teaches us that when we’re unwilling to make connections, we get tricked by sin. We start thinking people are the enemy, when in fact they’re the solution God put in front of us to work through what we’re feeling. If you’re in a spiritual shutdown, odds are you’re feeling distant and estranged from the people closest to you. Take some time to reach out to them, and embrace the encouragement that comes from letting someone share your burdens (Galatians 6).

Written by

Mike Query

Mike is a digital marketing manager for the Bay Area Christian Church and is a regular contributor to Inspire. He's passionate about web strategy, music, mentorship, and his quest to find the best burrito in the Bay Area.