Peace in Desolation



I’ve been struggling since August with the worst episode of depression I’ve ever endured. Normally they last a few weeks and I can regain my footing and get back to life, but not this time. This time I keep slipping. I’m climbing my mountain and getting nowhere fast and my knees have become very skinned. Maybe I need new shoes. There are days when I feel “I can” and I will climb so far only to wake up the next morning fifty feet below where I started. Desperation. This journey of mine is not just about depression, it is about my faith.

I had lost faith, questioned God. Questioned His existence. You see when you are at the bottom of a dark well deprived of emotion and connection your mind starts to question your own existence. I knew God existed…I served Him…I’ve felt Him…how can I possibly deny that? But when you have been starved for so long you begin to wonder if food ever existed…was it all just memories? Was it all just something my mind crafted so I could pretend the world was a better place? I couldn’t possibly accept this so I tried harder. I sought God out through others, through church, through so many attempts to find Him…only I was left even more empty and alone than before. I spoke for Him I stood up for Him, but in the back of my mind I doubted my own words. I was losing faith. Prayer fell into an empty space, worship was void. He was gone. I was gone.

My relationships with people lost meaning. I no longer cared about them. I no longer cared about my future, and I most certainly did not care about myself. I didn’t understand the point. Why am I even here? Why are we all here? We are all just ants performing for some creator that doesn’t even know my name. If I left this world, some other ant would take my place and the world would continue to rotate. I am meaningless. I am nothing. And I hated knowing this. I hated not caring. I hated who I was and was trying to fight it so bad. Depression is for the weak. I am supposed to be strong, my life isn’t that bad…I actually have a lot going for me…then why am I here!? Again desperation.

I started seeing someone. This person is no doubt God’s direct answer to my frantic searching. To my desperation. But the answers were not want I wanted to hear. “And yet enlightenment isn’t a picture, it’s a shattering of all pictures. And a shattered life isn’t what we were hoping for.”–Joko Beck.

God is in the darkness. In my darkness. God is in the moments when I feel so alone and so much like dying. I finished the sentence “If God loved me…” “He would take the pain away”. But He wouldn’t. You see, the pain is what is forming me. When there is nothing left but to surrender and accept the darkness, that is when He will work. But not until then. And He will take His time until the process is complete. So I return to the picture above of that gravel lot. I was running one day and each lot was filled with lush green grass except that one. It caught my attention because that is me. That is where I live and I’m ok with that. My world is nothing but ash and desolation but I am here and there is peace. But acceptance doesn’t mean there is no pain. I am still in a great deal of torment, there are nights when I beg for death, for the pain to stop. It feels like I’m burning from inside and there is no escaping that torture.
“And no soul once it feels the heat of that fire wants to be there. The essence of the dark night is the arrival at the heart of human helplessness, the conscious realization of being immersed in a fire of misery so hot it burns away our every remedy for escape”–Tim Farrington

I used to fight those moments of consuming fire…but now I know this is necessary. A purgation of past pain.
From St John of the Cross:
“The soul finds no solace or support in any doctrine or spiritual teacher. This dark night brings solitude and desolation with it…Rather than being consoled, the soul’s suffering is intensified. She knows there is no hope, no cure, no release from affliction…And in truth there is no way out. Until God finishes purifying the soul in the way he desires to do it, no remedy can heal her, nor is there relief from her pain…She remains like this until her spirit is humbled, softened, and purified, until she becomes so subtle, so simple, so refined that she can become one with the Spirit of God”.

So here I am. In the midst of what I perceive to be a dark night. Knowing full well this isn’t over and being ok with it. In those moments of fire I used to think God had left me, but now I realize it’s quite the opposite. Because grief is love too. The pain I am experiencing now is that of the Holy Spirit doing “His thing”. Now in those moments when I’m screaming for the pain to stop I know He is there and I allow Him to work. And in between the fire I can feel Him in everything and everyone. There is so much peace in pain. He is present in everything. He is present in the dragon fly. He is YHWH.