10 Problems of the Heart That Leave You Feeling Stuck

woman sitting on floor looking serious, problems of the heart feeling stuck

Why Do I Feel Stuck?

If you’re anything like me, there come certain seasons of life where almost everything that could go wrong, goes wrong. Relationships crumble, jobs become uncertain, and that feeling of joy makes way for depression.

No matter how much I pray, nothing changes. Not visibly. Not as quickly as I want. I know that I am supposed to trust God to see me through the crisis, but still I struggle.

I struggle because I feel stuck. Can you relate?

As Steve Furtick of Elevation Church describes this feeling, we are “trapped in transition.” I want to encourage you as he has encouraged me to see this moment of time where we feel stuck, as an opportunity to feel growth. If we continue to pray for insight and do our part to self-reflect, we are bound to experience positive change within ourselves. Not immediately, but in God’s perfect timing.

Instead of relying on ourselves, we can rely on Him. Easier said than done though. Right?

From my personal testimony, and learning from others, there are at least 10 issues of the heart that lead us to that place of feeling stuck. Once we have a better understanding of what’s wrong, we can take steps to transition into someone better.

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  • woman wondering looking up doubting

    1. Doubt

    When the good parts of life suddenly turn bad, we can be left to question if we did something wrong to lead to our circumstances. We may even be tempted to question God.

    When I struggle during tough periods of life, I can find myself beginning to doubt God’s presence in my life. He once felt near, but suddenly feels far away.

    I try to reason my fear away by reminding myself of who God is, but my overthinking mind won’t stop questioning the circumstances.

    God is allowing something bad to happen to me. Why?

    What happened isn’t fair. Why do I have to go through this?

    Life will get better in time. Why will it?

    I have learned that if I am doubting, I have to get out of my head and into the Word. There I can remind myself of what God wants me to do with doubt.

    “Consider how the wildflowers grow: They don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these. If that’s how God clothes the grass, which is in the field today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will he do for you—you of little faith?” (Luke 12:27-28)

    When those words sink in, I suddenly remember, God does care. Not only does He care about me, but He knows what I am going through. God is not like a friend or parent, where I have to explain the situation before He offers support.

    God already knows.

    That is encouragement to trade my doubt in for faith.

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  • man looking sad and despairing, problems of the heart leave us stuck

    2. Despair

    I remember reading The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri in my English class at the University of Richmond five years ago. My professor defined despair as the “absence of hope.” He wasn’t religious, but knew that I was. We discussed the importance of hope within the Christian faith.

    Hope is a recurring word and theme throughout the Bible. Without hope for something better to come, we have no reason to keep going. We instead become stuck and complacent.

    I can testify that in moments when I had no hope, I stopped connecting with God as fervently, and isolated myself from others. But not having hope only makes the situation worse.

    Scripture offers a reminder for hope so that despair doesn’t last in our hearts.

    For we are aliens and temporary residents in your presence as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.” (1 Chronicles 29:15)

    Despair is what leads people to claim their own lives, or the lives of others. When there is no hope for peace, war breaks out, when there is no hope for change people give up.

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  • man holding hands to his ears

    3. Foolishness

    Foolishness, folly… the Bible has some not so nice things to say about the mindset of fools.  I have definitely partaken in foolish behavior in the past (maybe present).

    “My wounds are foul and festering because of my foolishness.” (Psalm 38:5)

    Mistakes happen to all of us, whether unintentionally or on purpose. I would be remiss not to acknowledge my past failings have led me to feel stuck sometimes.

    What I have had to remind myself of time and time again is that God forgives me of my sins. Therefore, I should forgive myself and others.

    4. Addiction

    Addiction comes in many forms: food, pornography, gambling, social media. While the behavior may look different, the problem is the same. We get stuck in bad habits with seemingly no way out.

    The only way to stop the itch is to scratch. Or is it?

    “Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.” (James 1:15)

    Scripture offers a different solution than scratching our own itch. Jesus conquered death, and sin, showing that we too can follow in His footsteps.

    We don’t have to remain stuck in addiction when we have a willing and able God to help us overcome.

    Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Deagreez

  • girl looking left out of conversation

    5. Bad Relationships

    Parents tried to warn us about who we hung out with. Some of us listened. Some didn’t. The relationships we forge, and those we keep can either make or break us. The Bible speaks highly of positive relationships.

    Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

    There’s a benefit to good relationships. When we have relationships doing the opposite—destroying us —we can’t help but feel the impact of that damage.

    Friends and family have this impact on us. If people are keeping us from growing with God then we are better off without them.

    6. Lack of Love

    “Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love—but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)

    If you have been in the “stuck” place, you don’t have to imagine feeling a lack of love. Sometimes we can feel like we have the support of plenty, only to soon discover we have next to no one.

    To not feel loved by others is enough reason to not have faith or hope. Yet, God loves us. If God loves us, then why shouldn’t we? Why shouldn’t other people?

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  • man looking arrogant and proud and self-important

    7. Arrogance

    Growing up, I was told by enough people that I had a response to everything. I intentionally took this to mean I was more thoughtful than them, but this mindset didn’t win me friends. I was arrogant and at a loss when people didn’t want to interact with me.

    The Bible gives an antidote to this problem of the heart.

    “When arrogance comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)

    “Arrogance leads to nothing but strife,

    but wisdom is gained by those who take advice.” (Proverbs 13:10)

    Luckily, I was able to shed that behavior by the time I left college. Now, as an adult, I do my best to remain open-minded and teachable.

    If I can learn from God and others, I don’t need to feel stuck in life.

    8. Laziness

    Whenever I hear the word lazy, I imagine a stuck person. Someone stuck in bed, the couch, or in the car on their phone, not moving anywhere.

    I believe that everyone desires purpose in life. We are all after something, but so many of us, myself included, don’t always act in meaningful ways toward our goals. We would rather wait for blessings to find us instead of taking action.

    For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

    (James 2:26)

    God has blessed me with life. He wants to bless me more. If I can motivate myself to act, I can leave the place of feeling stuck and move into something greater.

    Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Khosrork

  • woman looking angry grabbing her hair

    9. Anger

    I will admit, I struggle with anger. Not so much now as I did in childhood, but the wrong word at the wrong time can leave me highly upset. I’ve learned to walk away, but walking away doesn’t erase the anger felt on the inside.

    “Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26)

    I have heard that resentment is equivalent to drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. Instead of anyone dying, we can give up the anger and free our minds for a more peaceful coexistence with those around us.

    After all, Jesus called us to love our neighbor.

    10. Loneliness

    People told me my generation was the most connected and disconnected generation. We are connected through social media, but disconnected in person. When we get together instead of talking, we are on our phones. While I think Generation Z has replaced this notion, there is some undeniable truth there.

    This sad reality of feeling disconnected can lead many to feel isolated, living in a world with others, but still feeling very much alone.

    “Be satisfied with what you have, for he himself has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

    I take this promise of God to mean that He will support us and be near whether we have zero friends, five, or 500. He knows we need company and He isn’t going anywhere.

    It’s All Relational

    I believe Jesus has given an answer to all the reasons we may find ourselves feeling stuck.

    “He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37)

    Our problems of the heart are all relational, either to God, others, or ourselves. If we practiced loving all the time, we would have an undying sense of connection externally and internally. We would never feel stuck because the great relationships of our lives would always be guiding us somewhere.

    If you feel stuck, or the next time you do, I pray that God will remind you as He has reminded me (plenty of times), that He is sufficient. Whatever else we need, He will give to us when He is ready. Until then, we can keep praying, knowing that there is blessing heading our way.

    Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Nastia11

    headshot of author Aaron BrownAaron Brown is a freelance writer, dance teacher, and visual artist. He currently contributes articles to GodUpdates, GodTube, iBelieve, and Crosswalk. Aaron also supports clients through the freelance platform Upwork.