Sunday, December 31, 2000

A Look Back at 2000: The Dark Night of the Soul

Asking "why" may be human, but it doesn’t make much sense anymore. It doesn’t even matter why, even though I know the reasons. This has been one of the worst years of my life—-right up there with the years I thought I had committed the unforgivable sin—-well, ok, a bit below that, but you get the idea.

I don’t want to write about this year. It’s all too fresh in my mind. How could God do this to me? How could He let this happen? How could He engineer it with full knowledge of the pain that lay ahead for me? But these are merely disguised "why" questions, and as I previously stated, the whys don’t matter. What matters is where I find myself and what my reaction will be.

For a long time God has been asking me to deal with some problems in my life, and for that long, I’ve refused. Keeping God at arm’s length and pretending the problems weren’t there was much easier. But He never allows situations like that to last, especially when they hinder our growth.

The foundations were laid late last year with a "chance" meeting on the Internet. I put that in quotes because God knew full well what He was doing. Once I had befriended that lady, He knew she would set in motion a chain of events that would leave me no recourse but to seek counsel. And so in March, with no other alternative and backed into a corner, I did.

And I prayed, prayed like I never have before, for direction, for help. In fact, I think I’ve prayed more this year than all the previous years combined. And I felt Him telling me to get counseling, and so I sought counseling, and in time, found my current counselor. It’s hard to talk about these things with him, much less on paper, so I am remaining general intentionally.

I am working through the problems. It will take time. It will be painful. I do not understand why God allows us to struggle with problems not of our making, but I understand that that will be my lot and the lot of every person alive until He makes all things new once and for all. We live in a sin cursed creation.

This year has been a dark night of the soul for me, one reason why I will be very glad when it is over. Bid farewell to the pain and step into a new year. Last year I looked forward to 2000 with promise and hope—what new things would this year bring? I had no idea of the pain and hurt and depression I would have to go through, and I was unprepared for answers to prayer that were other than what I wanted.

This will be remembered in my memory as the year when I prayed for healing of my mental health, prayed to be made normal, prayed for removal of my problem, and, even though I told God He would get all the glory if such a healing occurred, He said "no." To one of the most important prayers I have ever prayed. "No."

I have long suspected that there may be something wrong with me. My counselor says it is just "Boundaries" issues, but it must go deeper than that. Boundaries can’t hurt this bad. I have been feeling depressed and anxious from the counseling, as well as having many suicidal thoughts, and have had to resort to St. John’s Wort to deal with those.

I hate it. I hate it all. And I resent the hell out of God for putting me through this. I am reminded of a quote by St. Teresa of Avila that I have used often this year in e-mail and bulletin board signatures—-"Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, no wonder You have so few."

I have freely admitted that likely nothing short of what He did would have moved me to action. He had tried everything else with no success. Though He is patient, He will chastise His children severely if other milder forms of correction don’t work. That’s what happened here.

Though Hebrews 12 says that discipline proves we are His children, let me tell you that is little consolation when the storm breaks fresh and heavy upon you and you are smothered under the weight. Let me tell you it’s little consolation even now, months later.

There is a part of me that is so angry and so scared that it wants to hurt Him, hurt Him as much as He has allowed me to be hurt. What kind of a Father stands idly by while His children suffer?

And yet, there are times when I can still believe God is good. As I write this first draft, it is Christmas Day, and I remember that today we celebrate a God who loved us so much that He became man to die the death that we deserve. He, the eternal God, put on a body—-a body He will always have, and that will bear the scars forever.

The dark night of the soul is still upon me. I see myself slowly descending into a valley. There is no moon, and I cannot see if this valley has an end. I know my Father led me here, but I am scared. The night is cold and dark and windy and just begun—-it is a long time until dawn.

Lord, keep me safe. This has been a hard year, and though I am angry at You and disappointed, I can see Your hand in this year—helping me to find a counselor, and answering my prayers, even if I didn’t like the answer. Please help 2001 to be better than this year has been. Please help me to grow closer to You through the difficulties that lie ahead. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

[Edit: This is no date on this, so I am just picking a date for it.]