Last summer, I mentioned to you that I had my own Dark Night of the Soul as I felt the death of something inside me. I grieved the loss of ignorance regarding my lungs. I grieved the future I thought I would have as God revealed to me that my future is uncertain. I processed all of that and more with God through tears and unfinished sentences and hours of quiet space. God brought me to that space. I certainly would not have chosen to go there. It was painful. Looking at my mortality while hugging my 8 year old daughter was not on my wishlist. No. I spent hours thinking about her future, no longer looking forward to her graduation or wedding with wonder, but instead with uneasy questions. "Will I be there?" "What will it look like if I'm not?"
In Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero describes the Dark Night of the Soul as a Wall. Scazzero lays out a path of spiritual maturity with 6 Stages, the Wall standing right in the middle. It is where we bump up against our deepest questions or fears about God and face sin in ourselves. God brings us to The Wall and we can either stay there or do the hard work to push through it. Of course, He is there with us, enabling us to do the hard work, but He certainly won't force us to do it. But if we choose to push through The Wall, we will be freed to grow in spiritual maturity. We will be freed to do God's will unhindered by selfish ambition, self-deception, false humility, and guilt.
As I read Scazzero's explanation of The Wall, it helped me process my own experience. But I started to think, "I've gone through this more than once. How does that work?" Thankfully, Scazzero goes on... "It is God who brings us to The Wall. ... Walls come to us in various ways throughout our lifetime. It is not simply a one-time event." Ahh, yes.
"We don't control the seasons; they happen to us. Winter, spring, summer, and fall come to us whether we like it or not. So do Walls."
Peter Scazzero Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
I could say wonderful things about my Walls. How they taught me to depend more fully on Jesus. How they built a foundation of solid hope for me. How they have helped me to see the pure unconditional love of God more clearly. All of that would be true. But I have to tell you, my Walls hurt. They were HARD. But just because something is hard does not mean it must be avoided. Sometimes HARD is so worth the work.
My Walls always felt like a little death inside me. Death of ignorance, which can be blissful when it means I'm not aware of sin in my heart. Death of self-control, which I never had in the first place but foolishly believed to my very core. Death of self-preservation when I chose to give up a right and walk forward in humility. As with any death, I grieved the loss I felt with each Wall I confronted.
"We all face many deaths within our lives. The choice is whether these deaths will be terminal (crushing our spirit or life) or open us up to new possibilities and depths of transformation in Christ."
Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality
When viewed like this, Walls which once appeared like punishments become opportunities. "New possibilities." "Depths of transformtion in Christ." Wouldn't we all be thankful to be brought to our Walls if these are the results? Yes, Lord, show me where I am living in my own strength. Purify me with your refining love. Bring me, more and more, closer to you. Never stalling, always moving closer.
I came across an interesting quote twice this week. I cannot get it out of my head.
"The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen."
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
What a description of someone who has gone through their Wall! Do you know someone like that? Someone beautiful for what they have become despite their circumstances? NO, because of their circumstances? I'm thinking of Darlene Deibler Rose again. And Joni Eareckson Tada. And my dear Meilynn. Who are you thinking of?
Friend, if you are in a Dark Night, will you be encouraged that this is for your good? Persevere! The depth of connection with Jesus on the other side of your HARD is worth the pain. Worth the work. Do not give up. Share your pain with a friend and let them carry you to the feet of Jesus in prayer. You do not need to go through this alone.
Soli Deo Gloria!