I wrote an email to some safe friends the other day that I think pretty accurately displays some of the issues having to do with the Dark Night. I re-post it here, mostly as therapy for me as I continue to work out what it means.
I feel if I don't write some things down this morning they will dominate my day. I am full of intense anger right now, ready to chuck it all in.
It started this morning when I woke up, generally feeling depressed, but hopeful that I might be able to connect with God. Things spiraled down after meditating on Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." (ESV) I felt desperation to feel joy, peace and even hope. I felt called to trust, to believe so that I might experience these things. Not much happened though; I began to think (with increasing rage) that maybe this really is a conditional universe, that maybe the orphan really is right, that I have to work and manipulate to get people (and God) to love me. Why else don't I experience any joy or peace? it must be because I don't trust enough, don't believe enough. What's the !#&! point of doing all these disciplines? I know, I know, it's to "present ourselves." But what good does that do?
"God pursues us."
Really? I don't see it. God pursues us when we pursue him, in other words, we have to manipulate his response. How is this different from what I've always believed (as the orphan??) God pursues and blesses the strong "in faith," meaning those who are better than me.
What would happen if I stopped pursuing God? maybe blackness, silence. I fear my entire "spiritual life" would finally crumble; I'm terrified to consider that maybe there really is no one good pursuing me, that it's all just me desperately trying to hang on and if I let go no one, NO ONE will be there to catch me. "God's pursuit of me" seems to me to be merely a religious coating for my endless attempts to get him to act.
"God grants what he commands."
Really? why hasn't he granted to me? Unless he's waiting for MORE FROM ME so that he can respond (conditional!) All this just seems like smoke and mirrors trying to mask the idea that maybe he just doesn't give a damn about me, that "God's pursuit" is really just my religious mania. I don't know how it can be proven one way or the other, other than looking at a bunch of dusty doctrinal statements and try to squeeze life out of them.
What I see in this is the futility of using disciplines and “devotional life” to run from the darkness. This is shown by my rage when expectations remain unfulfilled. The Lord is gently unpacking these things in my soul, as I come to a little more peace with “sinking into” the darkness instead of trying to manipulate it or control it through devotional practice.