AKA, Serving God on the Down
“[T]he terms ‘running’ and ‘returning’ are used in Ezekiel (1:14) and describe the chayot. They refer to two different facets of phases of divine service. They apply to everyone, no matter how low his level.
“There are times when everyone feels inspired in his devotions. This happens especially when a person is praying. He suddenly feels a burst of enthusiasm and says the words with tremendous fervor. This is the phase of ‘running’.
“But then, the inspiration and the fervor pass, and all that is left is a trace. This is the phase of “returning”.
“For most people, the main effort and work come in trying to achieve the ‘running’ – the moment when the heart ‘runs’, so to speak, in fervent devotion. ‘Returning’ is something easy for them, because that is their nature….
“Both ‘running’ and ‘returning’ are necessary parts of serving God.”
#252 from Tzaddik, by the Breslov Research Institute. Also see Likutey Moharan I 6:4
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m a period of ‘returning’ at the moment.
Elsewhere, I call this ‘serving God on the down’ – you know, when you can’t really be bothered to listen to more Torah classes, or to take on more observances, and also when you’re finding it hard to get your act together to do even the basic stuff you know you should be doing.
Like making supper. Or hanging the washing. Or even, just stringing more than a couple of monosyllables together to talk to your husband and kids.
When this stage hits, it can often feel like we’re falling far away from Hashem, God forbid, but that’s where Rabbenu comes in to tell us don’t make that mistake!
Don’t start telling yourself that you’re ‘bad’, or ‘worthless’, or that God doesn’t love you, or that He doesn’t see all your efforts.
It’s just we can’t always be serving God on the ‘up’. We also have to serve Him on the down.
And it’s much easier to do that than you might think.
All it really means is that you turn around, and you search for God in the low place that you currently find yourself in, and connect it all back to Him.
God, I still want to serve You even though I got a little too caught up recently in dumb music videos on Youtube.
God, I still want to serve You even though I don’t feel like saying a Tikkun Haklali today, or going to hear a shiur.
God, I still want to serve You even though I seem to have completely run out of energy and ideas again.
That’s all we have to do to serve God on the down.
These are heavy days, hard times. The last couple of days, I’ve really been feeling like the ‘spiritual molasses’ has returned again, after a few days’ break, and it’s hard to do anything again.
But I can still serve God from this dark, unproductive place.
Just by wanting to, even if the effort itself, the act itself, the improvement itself, is beyond me right now.
All I have is my wanting to do better, but I’m sending all that back up to Hashem, and this is all I need to do stay connected.
I’m heading down again right now, God, but wherever I land, You’re coming with me. BH, I’ll be back on the up, and ‘running’ and spiritually inspired again soon.
But right now, I’m serving You on the down.
And when we tell God that, we make Him very happy.