This is the last post in a series which I wrote a while ago but didn’t want to post at the time. I’m not in the same place today that I was then; as a result, I’m tempted to edit the writing to soften or finesse it, but I’ve chosen not to!
Though the experience I describe is now historical, I’m posting the series because in the past similar posts have apparently encouraged others who sometimes walk through depression and darkness too. If you are one of those people, know that you are not alone; though he hides from you, if you have put your faith in him, he has promised never to leave or forsake you. This too shall pass.
It takes time to come to the end of yourself. I don’t suppose, in actual fact, that I am anywhere near. But this long, slow progression of days wears me down, each one something to get through and little more than that. I pass my days in meaninglessness, my only aim to get through. Sleeping longer than I’m willing to own up to, because the bliss of sleep is its quiet oblivion. Eating things I shouldn’t. Reading trashy fiction. Watching too many DVDs. Forgetting how to smile, yet still caught unawares by an occasional genuine laugh which escapes from who knows what hidden recess of joy within?
I don’t like living like that. These days are part of my one wild and precious life, after all. But sometimes all you can do is stand. You can’t fight, take ground or even just defend yourself; standing is about the extent of your strength.
And that, despite the way you feel, is enough. Perhaps even necessary. For how else will you know that you are weak enough for him to be strong for you? How else can I know that the drivenness in me, the force which strives to be enough…effective enough, helpful enough, good enough…how else will I know that it is being dealt a death blow?
They say it will not last forever, this helplessness, this flirtation with hopelessness. I’m inclined to believe them. But, more than that, I’m inclined to trust the one who led me into this valley of the shadow and who still holds my hand as he carries me through it. I know others might disagree but I remain convinced that this is of him, strange gift by which he answers that prayer last Lent – a surrender to the power of his Word in this drivenness to work always so hard just to be enough. Because now I am still. Or, at least, more still than I was. And perhaps in time, when I stumble out of this narrow darkness, blinded by the light of wide open space, perhaps then I will have learned to live from a different centre; perhaps then even this part of my life may have experienced the beginnings of a shift towards a radical reorientation in him.
That is why, though it is all faith to say it now, I believe that this process of coming to the end of myself is not all bad. In as much as I know how, I choose to embrace it because perhaps even in this there is joy. And I wonder about you, my reader, the one who will read this post so long after it was written, because of my unwillingness to live this one live! Perhaps you also are coming to the end of yourself. Perhaps you also despair of spending your days in anything more than meaningless dissipation as you seek to while away the hours of sadness.
But let me ask you, if you have the energy, would you dig deep into your heart; would you listen to the Spirit who dives into the very depths of God? What is this emptiness about for you? If he has taken you there, he will surely take you through, but what is he doing with you in it?
Because there, the place where the depths of God are touching the depths of you, that place is not only the place of your pain right now but will, I believe it, also be the site of your healing when this ends. When you name his work in you, though you cannot thereby control it or ease its pain, still you will start to discover the place from which your joy in this pain will come. And, though I cannot tell you how long it will take, I can assure of you of this: healing and wholeness will one day surely come to those who embrace his work in them. So, don’t be afraid though you are losing all sense of meaning; let him do what he will do in you and be whom he will be in you. He promises that one day it will all have been worth it.