Monday, October 22, 2012

How to Dump a Frump

Spoiler alert: In case you are a seventeen-year-old that has just gone on your first blind date and come here for advice, this probably isn’t what you are looking for.

Frump: that state of malaise; that vague sense something is off but you can’t quite identify it, like fishing around for the tiny hair stuck on the tip of your tongue.

It’s when that hiatus you took from the gym because you had a stuffy nose has now morphed into a two-week slump, where the thought of stuffing your thighs into that spandex suit is as inviting as cleaning up the pooch poop in the yard.

And you can’t think of a thing to say to even one of the five hundred friends you have on FB or know whether to do this or that. If you’re reading a book you think you should be raking the leaves; if you’re raking the leaves, you think you should be reading a book.

Other than a lumpy pillow, frumps can be triggered by, but not limited to:

Lack of community  
Lack of direction  
Lack of discipline  
Lack of light—both physical and spiritual

The problem, of course, is that when you are in a frump you don’t feel like doing any of the things you need to get out of it.

I think lists are helpful here because they give form and direction in the midst of nebulous uncertainty. You don’t have to solve any major problems or outfit your emergency preparedness cupboard. The important thing is to have something tangible to cross off.

Physical suggestions 

  • Do something different. The brain thrives on new activity. Go to a different coffee shop at an odd time of day; take a drive around an area you’ve never explored; sort through that box of high school treasures and old cards. Just break your routine. 
  • Make Contact with someone. Maybe a person who comes to mind at a random time needs a hello, or that friend you haven’t spoken to in months, or that stranger at church. 
  • Tease yourself back into exercise. Ten minute stretches for a few nights might give you enough results to inspire the treadmill.
  • Get some sunshine. Several ten minute breaks throughout the day are invigorating.

Spiritual prescriptions

  • Examine yourself for any grievances against others or the Lord but  
  • Be on guard about trusting in oppression; the self-defeating lies that include words like always, never, not, and isn’t—the Lodebars—things of nothing you hold in your hand and beat yourself with.  
  • Command yourself to Bless the Lord and 
  • Remember his benefits. You may not be able to control your sluggish feeling but you can issue a command. It helped me to realize this is what David did when he ordered his soul to bless the Lord and forget none of his benefits.—Psalm 103

Describing a far more serious state than frumpy doldrums, Jeremiah says his “soul has been rejected from peace, he has forgotten happiness, and his strength has perished as has his hope from the Lord.”—Lamentations 3:17-18.

But then he remembers: “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses never cease, his compassions never fail. Great is Thy faithfulness.”

Several of the psalmists express a similar despondency: Why are you in despair, o my soul, and disturbed within me? and arrive at the same conclusion: Be strong, let your heart take courage. Hope in God.

So how do you do that when you don’t feel like doing anything? When you’re far from being strong or taking courage or mustering up hope?

Read verses that attest to who God is. Wash yourself daily with remembrances of his might, his deeds, his love, his power, his mercy and faithfulness. I keep several pages of favorite passages in the front of my journal.

Keep the focus on God rather than on verses that remind you of your own despair. Wait patiently for the stirring for it will come, and then the outburst—the “OH” of God. The worship.

Hope resumed.

Frump deflated.

Then I said, “It is my grief, that the right hand of the Most High has changed. I shall remember the deeds of the Lord .What god is great like our God? The art the God who works wonders.”—Psalm 77

To him who rides upon the highest heavens, which are from ancient times. Ascribe strength to God; his majesty is over Israel, and his strength is in the skies. The God of Israel himself gives strength and power to the people.

Blessed be God—Psalm 68:33-35


  1. Maybe if you'd written this a month ago, I would have just done 10 minutes of stretches instead of buying a new house!

    1. Ah, Elizabeth but then you wouldn't be a land baroness! I think you have lots of things to keep you out of the frumps for a while now.

  2. Thanks for the great keys to pull up and out of the doldrums. Really helpful. I recently joined a blogging challenge to write on a single theme for the month of October and I intentionally chose "31 Days of Finding Joy" because it felt like the last thing I wanted to do or felt. JOY felt so far away and it made me tired to even go after it.
    But wow, God has met me in this little project and I have pulled up and out of the yuckies!

  3. I'm so glad Lisa Buffaloe shared this's wonderful, Marcia! And very timely,for me. I think I have some things to do... :)

    1. Thanks, Delia. Went visiting your "house." Bust lady. I tend to settle down with murder more than romance but it looks like have some reader favorites, will have to check out.

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you Natasha. I see by your book you know all about hope redeemed.


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