Emerging From…Dark Nights of the Soul (by TB Pasquale)
As both a trauma therapist and a trauma survivor, I have seen both first and second-hand what emotional pain can do to the soul. Trauma and pain create an existential crisis where one’s foundation of faith in God and humanity can come into question. “If these things can happen what does that say about the God or the people I believe in?” Many people in our troubled world and troubled times are falling down and into what the mystics called “a dark night of the soul.” Whether financial, emotional, physical, or societal, our world is experiencing–individually and collectively–a dark night of the soul.
The beauty of existence is that, if we can work our way out of the cocoon, find the light glimmering at the edge of darkness, pull ourselves up out of the holes we are in, there can be transformation and evolution from pain and suffering–in mind, body, and spirit. If we can make it, individually and communally, out of the worst of times then, often, we build a new foundation, stronger than the one that came before it, and come out with a more mature view on faith.
Faith when life is easy can often come easily. In the realization, through hardship, pain, suffering, trauma, addiction, or recession, that God is that which carries us through times of trial, not a magician with a wand to irradicate all ills, there can be a maturation of faith. Ultimately our walk with God and Jesus is that of relationship. In times of crisis, if we open to it, that relationship can build and strengthen in a profound way.
The mystic tradition of contemplative prayer traces back as long as the history of Christianity and as far back as the Psalms, 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.” God urges us to reach out, without the petitionary requests, without asking for the pains of life to be removed, just asking us to BE with God. Be still, and know God. In this we find strength greater than a magic wand and more unending than any one life circumstance or hardship.
In communion, in relationship with God, we can find strength we never knew we are capable of–because when we open, let go of the strangle hold we have on the “us” inside us, we make room for the God inside us. And the strength of the God inside us is eternal and unwavering. This is where the healing happens. Not in the change of our circumstances, the end of times of trial and suffering (although that is a helpful part of the process) but in, as the addiction recovery model states so succinctly, “letting go and letting God.”
If we can “let go and let God” help us out of the dark nights in our souls, we may find an evolution of our relationship with God. I have learned a lot in my life and work about the process of healing the battle scars of soul-wounds–that is the essence of traumatic experience, a war of the soul. The way to rebuild the foundation of faith is inside of the experience of love and relationship. Trauma breaks our trust and faith in ourselves, others, and often God. In communion with God, in silence, and stillness, we can begin to repair ourselves from the soul out.
As a society, a culture, and individuals we are in a time where we could use soul-healing and relationship building. If we can start with the foundation of the God-us dyad we can begin to re-building our relationships with with one another one brick, and one life, at a time. We can emerge from the cocoon, come out of the darkness, and find a renewed sense of life, love, and a newfound dimension in our connection with God.
TB Pasquale is a writer, psychotherapist,and a practitioner/educator on the contemplative dimension of faith. She blogs over at www.crookedmystic.com about her own crooked path in Christian tradition and spirituality. She is in the process of finishing a memoir of her journey through trauma and into renewed faith.