Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle.
This pandemic restrictive lifestyle of isolation and continual pivoting in sleep, play, parenting, work, community, and worship finds me in a full-blown relapse.
A spiritual relapse, a malady of the heart.
Just when I thought I was gaining ground, finding my way back to a new form of normal as we now see light at the end of our Coronavirus pandemic social distancing to the reopening of our country, I crashed once again. I crashed into a place of dire spiritual darkness, like the feared dark midnight of the soul experience spoken of by the mystics.
Though I have had a few of these undaunting and downright miserable experiences of the soul in my past, I often pray for it to be the last. Why? Because without a doubt it feels as if I am truly lost each and every time, which breeds feelings of high anxiety, excessive confusion, and profound panic.
Though I have been faithful to connect in many forums these last few months, from phone and facetime calls to loved ones, attending and facilitating zoom group spiritual direction sessions, and walking with friends and siblings at a CDC required distance, I have come unraveled.
As a trained and certified Spiritual Director and a Type #4 Enneagram certified practitioner, I know this is a good and healthy soul space in one's spiritual journey. Yet, companioning another through this spiritual wilderness is much easier done than being the one aimlessly floundering about blinded by the spiritually dark and heavy cloud of emptiness.
This cold and dark emptiness has a spiritual significance. It may actually be God at work. The Lover of our souls doing what He does best in and through us often when we least expect it. Could it be God is answering my prayers? Haven't I joined in on Paul's prayer, "...until Christ be formed in me"? Galatians 4:19 (paraphrase)
I realized that it was time to reconsider my infighting of the soul, surrender to what the Holy Spirit might be doing, and respond to what He may be inviting me into. God never coercively forces me into anything of His doing.
Through days of emotional turmoil, disciplined journaling, meditating on the works of my favorite mystic mentors such as John of the Cross, Richard Rohr, Dr. Gerald G. May, Mary Oliver, Enneagram teachers such as Dr. David Daniels, Christopher Hueertz, and the 12 Steps of AA I can now see light at the end of my spiritual tunnel.
Looking back only a few steps, I now perceive that God had been graciously exposing my addictions and compulsions afresh. It has become apparent to me that my higher power, whom I consider Christ Jesus had become second to what I had made first in my heart. My need for Him had become superseded by compulsion for others.
I desperately needed connection with others. My relationships with my loved ones, friends, colleagues, and community are paramount in my healing journey, yet they had become my identity. Without this beautiful human experience of connecting on a regular basis had undone me. I had become a depraved and raving madwoman. My greying grown out hair proved it!
Wasn't this God's intention all along? Apparently not. As I had gotten Jesus' commands backward. Jesus instructed me and you to firstly, love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and then secondly, to love our neighbor as ourselves. Mark 12: 30-31
Often times we imagine relapse to be a bad and unnecessary experience to our sobriety and recovery journey. Yet, I believe that often relapse of the heart is not only necessary for our spiritual formation, but it is actually God at work.
Thanks be to our loving God and Father who is faithful to continue the good work He has begun in me and you up to the day of completion. And oh, thank God for my sweet hairdresser!
Philippians 2:13 Living Bible (TLB)
For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants.
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