Rethinking Joy

A dark night of the soul is this, sans light bulb.

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned my dark night of the soul. The news is, I’m still in it. And where I am is black. Pitch black. Moonless, starless, candle-less nothingness. I’ve never experienced a crisis of faith quite this deep, long or disconcerting. I’m not sure where the end of this thing is.

The other day, I asked myself what it would look like if I really loved myself. All of myself. The way God loves me. And in that moment, 90% of my theology fell apart. I realized that while I had experienced some of the best things in my church upbringing, I had also experienced some of the worst. There’s very little room for self-love or self-acceptance (let alone acceptance of others) in the doctrine of my denomination. I was always taught the JOY acronym: Jesus first, others second, yourself last. Except, like much of everything in evangelicalism, it’s arranged in a hierarchy. JOY is spelled vertically. Jesus is at the top, others are below that, and you are the bottom of the totem pole. It’s the trickle-down economics of love. You give most of your devotion to Jesus, then some to others, and hopefully have enough for yourself afterwards. Continue reading

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When God says, “Wait”

Image from almgreen.blogspot.com

I’m about through month 9 of my dark night of the soul, and I have to say it’s getting interesting. I still can’t pray very often. I try to get up, and my broken legs put me back facedown into the dirt. One thing God keeps making very clear to me is that I’m exhausted through-and-through and really need to enter His rest.

This is really not the time I would have picked for rest. My son is a month away from starting preschool. I’m transitioning to a new position at work while trying to keep up with all of the responsibilities of my old position. My husband is applying to start college this semester while still working full-time. For the past couple of weeks, for these and other reasons, I’ve meandered through my days feeling like a dish rag.

Not a good time to be a dish rag. Continue reading

Choose Grace

Just at the moment when I think I can’t possibly sink to a new level of brokenness, I find it. Remember when I said that my dark night of the soul was leading me to a new intimacy with Christ? I’m not so sure anymore. I’ve either gone completely spiritually deaf, or he’s just not speaking to me. Not even “Just heal.”

I saw my counselor the other day and told him that I might be too broken to heal at this point. He assured me that I had a long way to fall before reaching that particular abyss.

Oh, goody.

I’m going to be honest. Most days, I don’t want to read my Bible. Church is boring me to tears. I get more peace from listening to Coldplay’s “The Scientist” than the latest worship song. And if one more person tells me to “forget the past” or “choose joy” or “listen to this awesome sermon I heard,” I might just strangle them with my cross necklace.

Maybe that’s a bit extreme. But what to do? Nothing seems able to break through this darkness, and my spirit screams in frustration.

I have no other option. I must choose grace. Continue reading

A Meditation on Job

Yup, that’s right. I’m writing about suffering. Again. But with tomorrow being Palm Sunday and Easter right around the corner, it seems appropriate this time.

I’ve been meditating on the Book of Job lately. I mean, really turning it over in my head. We all know the story: Job was a really righteous man. To prove the depth of his devotion, God allowed Satan to destroy everything Job owned. Job continued to worship and, in the end, God blessed him with twice as much as he had before.

It’s a wonderful story, according to my faith tradition. Yeah, Job suffered. A lot. He lost everything. It was terrible. But then he got it all back in a double portion! Just for being faithful! Yay! Let’s celebrate God’s goodness!

Simple, right?

I wish. Continue reading

When you’re right where He wants you

Image from letthepreistsarise.com

When I was about 19 years old, God gave me a vision for a speaking and teaching ministry. I won’t go into the details of the vision here, but suffice to say it’s significant enough to get me choked up whenever I do share it. I knew at the time that said ministry would be a ways down the road for me, so I wasn’t anxious about it. I had a lot of growing still to do, and I was willing to wait for God’s timing.

In the past decade or so, God has given me small opportunities to share sermons and devotionals with groups of people. These special moments have stirred my soul and made me hungry for the bigger vision on the horizon. Still, it has felt like a distant thing…something much further than arm’s length away…

Until recently. Continue reading