Coming up for air

Warning: This is a Christian post.  Sometimes I try not to be too blatant in my own beliefs – this is not one of those times.

I still hesitate, even days after I first typed this post out the way I always do, in a whirlwind of whatever it is that I get – inspiration? – to go ahead and publish it.  Because it goes there.  It goes dark and depressing and hurt and angry.

But then… maybe someone out there is now dark and depressing and hurt and angry.

If so… This is for you.  I’m not sure it will do anything to provide you comfort.  But maybe it will help you to know your struggles have belonged to others, too.


Do you ever feel like you have been asleep for awhile?  Not literally.  Not like you actually went and took a nap and woke up and are like, oh, I was asleep.  Didn’t mean to do that.


I mean like… you’ve literally just been out of it.

Maybe something like what Foster references in The Celebration of Discipline, when he talks about the dark night of the soul.

Other things in life may be fine.  Other things may progress normally, even better than normal, maybe.

You may, like me, find new strengths and reach new heights in other areas of your life.  You may still feel fulfilled and, overall, pleased, content, happy… however you want to describe it.


But at the same time, you feel sort of…. out of it.  Like there is a conversation going on around you, and you are missing out on it.  Because the words are falling on your ears and you can’t necessarily understand them.  Your mind does, sure – but you can’t connect them with your experience at all, with your heart – you’ve lost the emotional side, maybe.


Remember how I said, awhile back, that last year the feeling that I felt a lot was really most akin to grief?

What was this grief?

This grief was solitary.  It was… alone.  Silent.  It didn’t always manifest as grief, but as emptiness and silence and separation.  Not from people, not from reality, but from God.

Not because there wasn’t faith.  Not because I had lost faith.

But because I had lost what I thought were my ‘places’.  My ‘things’.

The grief wasn’t the actual, literal loss of these things – but the resulting chaos of the soul.

If we, as human beings on earth, have a purpose, then what is it?

If we have passions, why can’t we do anything about them?

And these were my questions.  Why am I here?  If not this, then what?  If not these things burning in me, then why are they there?

And feeling like there was nothing but silence on the other end of the line.  God sitting, still and silent, as I grew angrier and more bitter and less understanding.


Perhaps the best way for me to explain my sense of grief is to share something I wrote last summer.

I’m beginning to wonder if there is a lie out there – a lie of ‘great things’ – that is hindering us all (Christian or not) and keeping us from living a fulfilling life.

I don’t think I believe in purpose.  

Pastors talk and say that ‘in God, you will find your purpose’ – no.  You won’t.

There is no purpose to be found.  We’re just here.  We’re existing.

I’m annoyed.  I get things that matter to me and then can’t do anything about them.  I find a passion and then it sits, stagnant and frustrated.  It’s seething and roiling inside so much that it hurts sometimes.  

Even when I think of it… you know when, in the Bible, it talks about the priests and people rending their garments – tearing at their clothes in agony?  I feel that.  Right now, as I think about those things that bring back echoes of a past life, a former life, a life that could have maybe been.  My heart aches beyond aching as I sit and am reminded that this was where I belonged.  Or at least I thought I did.

I’m in a desert.  There is nothing.  There is nothing that I can hear in headphones that can match reality.  

It’s dry.  It’s lonely.  

And I’m so annoyed.  I’m so mad because I feel like God gives me things and I love them and then they are just jerked away from me.  

Is that immature?  Ask me if I care

‘You like this?  Here, let me give you an ear for it, and a brain for it, and the eye for it, and I’ll have you spend a good part of your formative years engrossed in learning about it and doing it.  Then you’ll think there’s nothing for you only to discover these amazing outlets for it.  You’ll feel fulfilled.  You’ll feel happy.  You’ll feel like the world is good.  And things are right

Then?  I’ll take it away.  

And you’ll have nothing.

And you know how you really found what you thought was a passion?  I’m going to let things happen so that you can go ahead and get immersed in it.  You’ll get excited about it and you’ll love it and you’ll feel it.  It’ll be burning in your soul.

Then you’ll be stuck.  There will be nothing else you can do.’



I look back, and I read those words, and I can see the brokenness in them.

I read them now, and I still see in them similar feelings to what I have now.

But not the brokenness.  Not the hopelessness.  Not the anger and the bitterness.

It’s like coming up for air.

I don’t know when the shift took place – when I went from bitterness and anger to this… this peace.

I finally do feel that.  Peace.  Content with all that is.

Perhaps it was when I saw the growth that had taken place in those dark and lonely times.  Perhaps because I, without even realizing it at first, could feel God again, there, present.

I’m still in the same place.  My circumstances are still the same.  I still left an event last week and was so full of fire that I was so excited I thought I would burst, and felt a twinge of frustration because I know no one else gets it.
But I know this now – It’s not for them to get.
I still have no music.  The music is gone, right now.  And that still makes me sad.
I still miss it.
But I have faith.  It will come back.

I came to the realization about purpose, perhaps a bit late:  Our only purpose on earth is laid out for us in the Bible – to go and make disciples.

How many times have I read that?!  I took a whole COURSE with that as the primary foundation, for pity’s sake!!

But popular media, popular preaching, popular ‘Christianity’ had me thinking that there must be something else – some big dream, something else out there that was a grand purpose for each individual.

Do you know how freeing it is to realize that our purpose is that same simple golden rule?

Love God.

Love people.

It’s become such a trendy saying.  I still say I said it first.  Years ago.  I’m just kidding (halfway) – I’m sure there were people much wiser than I who said it long ago.

But how wonderful is it to know that that’s it?  That’s all I need to think about.  There is no such thing as ‘God’s will for my life’.  That doesn’t exist.  And I’m not saying that in a hopeless way – it’s freedom.  I’m not going to miss the mark because there’s no mark to miss.

I’m not going to be living in the ‘permissive will of God’ because I have missed ‘His perfect will for me’.

Because those things are man-made creations.



I wasn’t even planning on talking about that for that long.  But I tend to ramble.  So.


Last year – perhaps that was a dark night for my soul.  Perhaps I was struck dumb with grief, with bitterness, with anger, with depression.  As people spoke around me, and I listened but couldn’t comprehend, couldn’t take part, couldn’t be an active participant in conversations about spirituality because who am I to say anything?  And what would I even say?

But this year – is freedom.  Last year I was living.  I lived.  I lived through it, and in other things, yes, I excelled.

This year is being.  Being free.  Being able to breathe again.  Being able to understand, to comprehend, to take part.  Being able to feel peace in all aspects.

Being able to make the connections – see those common threads.  Being able to see where my focus needs to lie for right now and make the commitment to it.

Do you know how good that feels?  To come back to life again?  To be able to feel that God is here and real again?  And not feel like instead, there is a void?


The thing about these things – these dark nights of the soul – you do come through them stronger.  If I had to name a time when I felt like God was closer to me than ever, it would be when Pink was in the NICU, when she was born.  That was a time I grew stronger in my faith.  And if I had to name a time that felt the complete opposite, where I couldn’t find or feel God much at all, that would be what I experienced for much of last year.  I feel I should add that I still had faith.  I still believed in God.  I still believed.  Was I bitter, angry, uncomprehending?  Yes.  But did I still know God – the character of God, the sovereignty of God, and who God is and had shown to be in my life?  Yes.  But last year I just felt… far.  Trying to reach out and grab hold of something, but unable to grasp Him.

But, just as I grew stronger from the experience of walking with him constantly, waking up at night and praying for my daughter, and coming to peace with any outcome – I grew stronger from this experience.  From feeling lost and secluded and alone.  From feeling like God was a long way away and like no matter how hard I tried, he was like water slipping through my fingers and I couldn’t hold on.


So I want to encourage you – anyone who is feeling that now.  Like God is just too far away and you can’t find Him anywhere.  You may be hesitant to even believe that He’s still there – trust me, He is.

Remember that it’s not what put you in the state of being – in the darkness – it’s the being there that I’m talking about.  My struggles are minute compared to some others, but this isn’t about the what made me this way, and there is never a good time to compare the struggles of life – someone always has it worse, and that doesn’t make anyone’s pain irrelevant.  This is about the existing in the loss, the loneliness, the void.

Keep trusting.  It’s okay if you go through hard times.  It’s okay to have emotions.  We are human.  It’s okay to vent your frustrations to God – even if you can’t feel it, he’s there and he knows them, anyway.  🙂

You will come through it stronger.  I know you will.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Remember Me
    Feb 16, 2016 @ 03:53:22

    Out of the darkness comes the light: great post.


  2. Another Soujouner
    Feb 16, 2016 @ 12:55:11

    Absolutely love this!


  3. gospelisosceles
    Feb 23, 2016 @ 17:46:12

    I like this advice to Padre Pio (regarding the dark night of the soul): Thank you for this honest post.


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