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The New York Times published a piece last week about a mental health state called “languishing” — a state of joylessness and aimlessness that is not quite depression, but it’s not quite happiness either. It sparked a collective jolt of recognition, a naming of a collective pandemic feeling. 

Oh God.
Our brains are so tired of being on high alert. 
We’re so exhausted by constant, changing math-problem of threat.
So flummoxed by the difference between our own panic and our neighbor’s. 
We’re exhausted with our own judgments, 
Irate at the fogging of our glasses.
Puzzled by the shifting norms, 
the endless lack of consensus for how to do this well.
We’re so grieved by the profoundly broken trust 
that distances us from the ones we’re called to love, 
the ones called to love us. 

God. We’re so tired.

It makes it hard to focus. 
We’re sick of cooking, 
sick of Netflix,
sick of walking the same dog down the same streets.
We’re getting sick of our lives.

It’s hard to remember what it felt like 
to have ideas, to put in an effort, to rise to an occasion.
We just don’t care like we used to,
don’t find much delight anymore. 
Can’t remember how to grab hold of things that matter.

De-fog our vision, God. 
Help us to see with clarity again. 
Help us to look around us and notice the others
who are in this moment with us.
Help us to name this languishing,
this dogged powerlessness.
And help us to feel less alone.

May our participation in the community of the honest
Restore in us some joy.
Beauty in this bleakness.
Hope in this ongoing unknown.

Call us forward.
We forgot which direction that is.
Help us onto our feet, and summon us to toddle toward your beckoning voice
like children, learning to walk.
Help us to trust.
Help us to laugh.

You are a bounteous God.
And we can sort of remember bounty.
We remember laughter, hugs, events.
We remember wearing eyeliner
and eating food that we did not prepare.
We remember meeting new people.
We remember the feeling of possibility.

So draw near to us, O bounteous God. 
In this unexpected, interminable moment.
Gift us with what we admit we fail to summon for ourselves:
a grateful heart,
a trusting spirit,
a peace-filled mind.

Surprise us once again with your daily graces:
birdsong, a sprouted seed, a laughing child, a cup of coffee.
Remind us of your cosmic care,
of the largeness of your world,
your timeless purpose,
the goodness of your promise.

You love us, you see us, you keep us.

Thanks be to you, O God.

Photo by Nicolas Gras on Unsplash

Kate Kooyman

Rev. Kate Kooyman is a minister of the Reformed Church in America who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


  • mstair says:

    I appreciate the prayer and we must continue to lift that that petition up together…

    But I was also reminded of the one from Nehemiah (chapter 1 &2)
    Offered up over 100 years after Daniel’s prayer in his book (chapter 9).

    Let’s be sure we are asking as The Body of Christ for The Body of Christ. There will be a “new normal.” Like ancient Israel, the old one is certainly gone forever, and in whatever God grants us, blooming or languishing, may we see Our Lord and His mission for us in it…

  • Craig says:

    Thank you, Kate. Once again your words meet us in exactly the right moment.

  • Scott Hoezee says:

    Thanks, Kate. Just right.

  • John Kleinheksel says:

    Love ya Kate! For putting words to “languishing.”
    Voicing our discontent, our yearning for new forms of “body life” where we get into living and relating honestly and in a straightforward way.
    The old falls away like last years leaves clinging to the oak tree. New growth DOES come, is coming, and will flower and bear fruit once again.
    But, O, to get there. To be part of what is emerging. Not pining away for the old forms, but being part of the new wineskins trying to hold the new wine. Whew. Fit vessels. To be poured out. Not withholding love, but giving it, with “our mission in it. . . .” Yes. Praise-worthy indeed. Blessed to advance into the future. . . .with YOU.

  • Gloria says:

    So good. Thank you.

  • David Jones says:

    Great prayer. Thank you. I also read that New York Times article with great interest. It gave us a name for something that was hard to name – languishing.

  • Marty Wondaal says:

    Reverend Kooyman,

    You’re tired? Just think how those kids in cages feel.

    You have a choice: don’t languish. Take a trip. Florida is wide open. Weather is great. People are enjoying life. You should try that.

    Or if you you’re more mission minded, go to the Texas border. Use your expertise, and try to make a difference.

  • Ann Conklin says:

    Oh Kate. Thank you. That’s all…thanks.

  • Jessica A Groen says:

    My husband mentioned that word and article to me the other day. Thank you!

    Love the lines about: “fogging of our glasses” . . . and “de-fog our vision”

  • Ann Schipper says:

    Touching people who are languishing beyond the blog. Thank you!

  • Steve Armfield says:

    Thank you Kate. Powerfully written, nurturing to my soul. Blessings to you (and your mom, on this Mother’s Day weekend)

  • Christopher Poest says:

    Thank you, Kate.

  • Chris Walker says:

    Thank you, Rev. Kooyman. We read / prayed this as a church staff earlier this week, and I’m grateful for your faithful way with words. Or is it your way with faithful words? Both, actually. Grace and peace…..

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