I could not recall the last time I had heard the word. She spoke it with ownership. She said she was “just slogging through her life”, with such conviction, she literally became its definition.
She looked and sounded empty. Her voice down to a ragged whisper. She acted without animation. If there was a spirit present, I could not detect it. Her soul appeared to be shivering and cold. The heart was obviously badly bruised. She was fifty, and looked sixty plus. She was crotchety. She had dragged herself unwillingly to this appointment, only as a favor to her husband, “who was a worry wart if there ever was one.”
I asked her what she meant by slogging? She said she was very busy, but enjoyed nothing. She stated that she felt like she was marching in place in quicksand. She repeatedly claimed a loss of meaning and purpose. She called herself weary and wretched.
I asked her what it felt like to be seated in my office. She told me it felt pointless. Simply another silly obligation to fulfill. I told her I was glad she had come, and for what it was worth, I shared with her a most genuine empathy.
“You - no way. You scoot around like you have the world on a string. Your line of work must produce all kinds of purpose. I imagine you finishing each day with a sense of satisfaction.”
“Wrong. I don’t scoot these days. Too fat and my knees are crumbling. I don’t have the world on a string. I'm hanging by a thread. Most days in ministry are bewildering. I finish the day wondering if I accomplished anything at all. I go to bed wide awake and wake up exhausted.”
I was shocked by my honesty. She seemed pleasantly amused.
“Well, aren’t we a pair, a couple of Christians slogging through our lives.”
We both laughed. It made no sense. It made perfect sense. It is the nature of all true faith. We talked on for about an hour. We just vented and rambled and wandered across the spiritual turf of our lives. We finished this chat with a rare sense of fulfillment. We had connected.
No great answers had been found or shared. No monumental moment of insight or inspiration. No swarming mood of calm swept over us. Just a simple recognition that neither of us was alone and it felt good, helpful, enough.
Even slogging is better when shared. Like everything in Life, we are better for being together. We live in a time and place and culture of broken connections. Empathy can feel so sweet and be such a balm.
When she left my office, I did not notice any skip to her step. She did not look like the reenactment of the resurrection. She did seem to hold her head a bit higher. Could be my imagination, but I felt the rise above my own shoulders as well. We both had gotten a lift. That is all, nothing more, but everything we need.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.