“This guided me
more surely than the light of noon
to where he was awaiting me
– him I knew so well –
there in a place where no one appeared.”
-from “The Dark Night” by St. John of the Cross
Experiencing God’s silence was new to me. It didn’t happen suddenly, and I couldn’t really define it, or recognize it. It wasn’t something I could anticipate, and prepare for. It was a slow fade. At first, I believed that He wasn’t speaking to me about a particular topic. That was okay. As time wore on, I began to sense that God wasn’t speaking to me about several topics. And then, the crushing realization that God simply wasn’t speaking. Silence. Fade to black.
Naturally, my first instinct was belief that I was being punished. It made sense. I am a disgusting sinner, after all. Replaying my sins over and over in my mind, I repented, begged, pleaded, for His forgiveness and mercy, and to please, please, please don’t turn away from me. I’ll do better, BE better. Lord, won’t you say *something*? Anything?
Time went on, and I wondered if He even really existed at all. Was He a myth? Some frighteningly sweet fable? Events in my life went from bad to worse, and I began to doubt everything I once held true.
That was when shame came calling.
“Guilt is saying, I made a mistake. Shame is saying, I am a mistake. ” -Brene Brown
This wasn’t something I could share. No one else had ever described this period of darkness to me. At least, not in a way I’d remember. I was alone. I couldn’t talk about this, for risk of others finding out what I knew myself to be: a faithless Christ-follower.
That, and there are those people in your life, though well-intended, try to fix problems with pat answers. Earthly answers.
My problem wasn’t earthly. It was divine.
Somehow, in my silence about God’s silence (a mind-cramping thought), God spoke to a friend, and she sent me the book, “Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis” , an amazing book. The writer, Lauren Winner understood what was happening in my head and heart. It had happened to her, too. But she was brave enough to talk about it. The interesting thing about reading a book on guilt, shame, silence, failure… It didn’t loosen my grip on faith, it actually increased it. It gave me the courage to open up my mouth and say, “God is silent. It’s a dark night.”
Slowly, I realized, if God prompted my friend to send me this book, maybe He isn’t being so silent after all.
And then came a funeral…
(Tomorrow, Darkness Within Faith, part 2)