Swamp of Sadness: My Journey With Apathy

      Do you remember the scene in The Neverending story when the horse Artax gets stuck in the Swamp of Sadness?  Most likely you do, and most likely you recall this being the moment that you realized not all kids movies are happy all the time.  If you aren't familiar with the scene it begins with Atreyu (a young boy sent on a mission) and Artax (his steed) who need to navigate their way through the Swamp of Sadness.  

     The devastating power of this swamp is that if you let the sadness around you take hold you will begin to sink into the swamp & it will overpower you.  Artax begins to sink in & as much as Atreyu urges his horse to keep moving, to pull himself out, Artax has let the sadness take away his will to keep moving.  What's the point?  *sink into the mud* Why bother? *sink further* “Fight against the Sadness, Artax. Please, you’re letting the Sadness of the Swamps get to you. You have to try. You have to care. For me. You’re my friend. I love you.” 

     It's not a perfect example, but it's the closest thing I can think of right now to represent what apathy feels like.  Apathy is one of my biggest struggles (not the only struggle, but one of them) and daily I'll move between the roles of Atreyu and Artax inside myself.  Apathy is a scary thing to struggle with, because it sneaks up on you.  It's not something you know how to protect yourself from at first.  One day, you just realize that you should be caring more than you do.  I tell myself things like, "snap out of it."  "You used to care, what happened?"  I even try 'pulling on my own reigns'. And above all I pray for my attitude to be changed.  And yet apathy still haunts me.  

     Some of that I believe has to do with the other things I let influence my life, certain struggles that feed into my attitude, a lack of scripture taking a prominent role in my priorities, and just not seeking accountability.  It's a strange duality of myself wanting to care, but not being able to.  Recognizing that I should, but being stuck in a rut (or the mud for this analogy).  It's a strange back and forth, but as absurd as it feels it has a serious impact on how I treat other sins in my life, what time I take to spend alone with God, and how I worship.  I even feel like at times I'm saying stuff to encourage others that while I know in my heart I believe it, cannot feel the emotions behind it.  It kinda sucks.

     It truly is a great struggle, but I call it a struggle, because I know it is worth struggling with.  I may not be free of it yet, but like Atreyu I won't give up on Artax.  

     Thank you for letting me share with you, and I'll keep you updated as this neverending story continues. 

XO Juls


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