Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Dark Night of the Soul

 When I pray, sometimes I BEG for heavenly poetry: divine designs that turn the details of my life into the Universe’s art canvas.

A year ago on my 33rd birthday I demanded poetry. I thought about Jesus Christ, predicted to have lived to be about 33 years old. I wanted that year of MY life to be spiritually significant, dedicated to my Savior, and full of growth with God as my major focal point.

It was a significant year... But not at all in the way I was expecting. 

Turns out, it became the HARDEST year for my faith. A spiritual crisis is an understatement. It felt like a religious obsessive compulsive disorder full of anxiety over spiritual matters. There was so much confusion and pain as I dug deep into what I’ve always believed, why I believed it, the God I had grown close to and whether He/She matched up with the God I was studying in scripture, in history, and in the actions of the people around me. It has been the most intense, sobering, beautiful spiritual roller-coaster.

That’s when I turned to art for therapy. My sketches became the oxygen-tube getting me through the days and overcoming the shame that shadowed every question or doubt I found myself wrestling with. I struggled to trust the revelations inside of me when it clashed with outside sources or teachings I’d been taught my whole life.

There’s a term some use called “The Dark Night of the Soul”. Like a spiritual depression. Mother Teresa was thought to have experienced it from writings in her journals, Saint John of the Cross, Joseph Smith in Carthage jail... I think the majority of us will go through a form of this at some season in our lives. 

A full year went by and I found myself staring into the reflection of a now 34-year-old with a few more white strips of hair behind her ears and a tired, worn-down soul. I remembered that birthday wish I had prayed for the year before of growing closer and understanding Christ more and felt a bit of disappointment.

Then a familiar voice inside of me whispered, “In His last year of life, wouldn’t it have been Christ’s darkest hour? His time of most confusion? Of feeling alone? Of sorrow for the choices made by others and wishing that they saw God as He did? Don’t you think THIS was the best way for you to truly understand Him? Wasn’t it your most spiritual year after all?”

Oh, isn’t THAT poetry?

Although it may have felt like a winter of darkness, I have never, EVER felt closer to my Creator. My hand has been held every step of the way by something outside of myself that whispers of unconditional love and of pure patience as I stumble and fall and lift myself up again.

I am learning to trust that whisper inside of myself and trusting that God gave me this heart for a purpose to navigate through this living experience.

God is with me. God is inside of me. Like a child is literally half of her mother and half of her father, I am literally made out of God.

I am OF God.

This is now my season to look inside of myself and trust. And continue to search for and appreciate my Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother's poetry and the divine artists that They are.

1 comment:

  1. Mmk, so um, just taught this principle in seminary that totally fits.
    Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf stated: “What about doubts and questions? How do you find out that the gospel is true? Is it all right to have questions about the Church or its doctrine? My dear young friends, we are a question-asking people because we know that inquiry leads to truth. That is the way the Church got its start—from a young man who had questions. In fact, I’m not sure how one can discover truth without asking questions. In the scriptures you will rarely discover a revelation that didn’t come in response to a question. Whenever a question arose and Joseph Smith wasn’t sure of the answer, he approached the Lord, and the results are the wonderful revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants. Often the knowledge Joseph received extended far beyond the original question. That is because not only can the Lord answer the questions we ask but, even more importantly, He can give us answers to questions we should have asked. Let us listen to those answers.

    “The missionary effort of the Church is founded upon honest investigators asking heartfelt questions. Inquiry is the birthplace of testimony. Some might feel embarrassed or unworthy because they have searching questions regarding the gospel, but they needn’t feel that way. Asking questions isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a precursor of growth.
    “God commands us to seek answers to our questions (see James 1:5–6) and asks only that we seek ‘with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ’ (Moroni 10:4). When we do so, the truth of all things can be manifested to us ‘by the power of the Holy Ghost’ (Moroni 10:5).
    “Fear not; ask questions. Be curious, but doubt not! Always hold fast to faith and to the light you have already received. Because we see imperfectly in mortality, not everything is going to make sense right now. …
    “… Searching for answers to your questions can bring you closer to God, strengthening your testimony instead of shaking it. It’s true that ‘faith is not … a perfect knowledge’ (Alma 32:21), but as you exercise your faith, applying gospel principles every day under any circumstances, you will taste the sweet fruits of the gospel, and by this fruit you will know of its truth (see Matthew 7:16–20; John 7:17; Alma 32:41–43)” (“The Reflection in the Water” [Church Educational System fireside address, Nov. 1, 2009],
    My takeaway: it takes faith to continue on and trust when you don't understand everything.


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