Starting Again, in the Dark
If you have followed me before, you no doubt see the blog looks a lot different. Perhaps I will sound different, too. That is because there has been some strange things happening in my life.
After 3 years, I finally graduated with my college degree from Eastern Mennonite University. While this is a good change, it was still a drastic change. I didn't have the same schedule anymore. The moorings of school assignments, peers, and expectations were cut, and I floated aimlessly. Who was I now? What would be my next goal? Was I even on the right track-being who I was meant to be? I had been working 3 part time jobs during my time in school for flexibility but now that work schedule was overwhelming. The work was never done. Every boss needed more from me. My husband wanted more from me. Even I wanted more for me. But I was frantic, empty, and ready to crash.
So in true to me fashion, I chose to turn my life upside down. I pursued ONE full-time position in order to be able to develop a rhythm to my life. I also began to rethink my life. I asked God to reveal a direction for me. I started to question my values and my passions-where are the places that I need to be connected? Perhaps it is because all these things happened so soon, one upon another, that the grief grew and swept over me like a tsunami. I would not longer be involved in church ministry-though at this point I wondered how effective I was. I would no longer be teaching-here I also questioned my efficacy and gifting. Things were changing all around me-new staff coming in as I was leaving. Wrapping up creative tasks at church, my last class graduating...had me on a roller coaster of tears and despair. Logically, the decisions to streamline and downsize my life made sense but my heart seemed to struggle to accept them. Fear welled up-was I making the right decision or had I made a reckless, horrible mistake?
Worst of all, God seemed to have gone on vacation. I prayed but our usual meeting place was hollow and empty, like an ancient cathedral a tourist might visit on holiday. The tear continued as the storm howled in my soul, but the Prince of Peace remained absent. A friend wonder if it I had read about the dark night of the soul. Then my spiritual director suggests the same possibility. Then a psychiatrist diagnosed the same affliction. Everywhere that I sought relief, hoping someone knew where the magic off switch was installed for this pain, merely pointed me back to this vague idea for my distress.
I had a romanticized notion of the dark night of the soul. It happens to holy people-monks and nuns whose spiritual practice gave them a very intimate relationship with God. This stage of their spiritual growth made them saints. But that is really as much as I thought about it.
I am no saint. Someone told me that a dark night of the soul is God removing the gift of His presence to allow us to "grow up." Frankly, I don't know. If Christ lives within us, how could He remove His presence? What does growing up have to do with any of this? Why am I so melodramatic all the time?
It doesn't matter. I simply continue on as though He will come back. I visit our meeting place and wait. Sometimes I see hints that He has visited. A pillow is out of place. The flowers on the table have been refreshed. He and I haven't been in the same place for a about 2 months, but maybe tomorrow. I miss Him very much. The wonderful thing is that I have many opportunities to love others like He loved me.
After a few false starts, finally, a full-time position came along that seems to be a good fit. I enjoy the team that I am working with as well as the population and specialty. I began to purge my house of 3 years of put off tasks like donating clothes or cleaning out closets and cabinets. I started cooking, thanks to Hello Fresh, which I have found that I enjoy-and would enjoy more if I could stop slicing my thumbs. And I am also re-connecting with friends and creative pursuits. One of which, of course, is writing again...sharing my truth and my journey.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)