Being This Disoriented is Normal?
My soul rests. My consciousness expands throughout the train car. I become aware of the person next to me; even this stranger’s heartbeat is loud in my chest. My body feels soft and I relax easily in my chair. The mental realm of calm clarity is mine again for now. Ten hours ago every joint ached and I sagged beneath a crushing anxiety. I breathe in the relief now, but just as one cannot bottle sunlight, I have not yet been able to capture this state and abide here continually. I used to be so afraid of myself. I never spent enough time alone to experience the energetic cycles of my own spirit, and then when I finally did, I was horrified at what I found. Inconsistency, lack of balance. What I had been running from my whole life, the pain and confusion that made another year of life in my childhood home unbearable when I turned 18 and could finally escape my mother’s bipolar disorder. Now I was 24, and I felt helplessly washed in an unknown and stormy sea of constant change. My changing moods, changing interests, changing physical capabilities…all alarmed me. I don’t live in the same body from one day to the next. I’m not even the same person today as I was yesterday. These thoughts used to torment me because, if that’s true, then who am I? Whether it is hormonal imbalance, a hereditary curse, or the effect of original sin deep in my bones, the state of perfect grace in spirit and body is ever-fleeting, much like the cherry blossoms that make South Korea look like a bride on her wedding day each spring, only to flutter down a week later, covering the ground with delicate pink-and-white flower snow. Now I know, you are not the waves. You are the sea.
The Dark Night of the Soul
But each return to the dark cave of exhaustion, spiritual scarcity, and physical illness is is more unbearable than the last. Sometimes it envelops me slowly in its suffocating hold like quicksand and other times overtakes me like an unexpected cold front blows in on the wings of icy wind. Would that I could pray to God, “Almighty One, please rid me of the affliction and weakness that keeps me from doing all I want to do.” I do not pray this prayer though, because God in His infinite grace and wisdom is teaching me that the physical pain of my broken human form and the unreliable nature of my spirit is a vital force in my evolution, driving me again and again to the foot of the blessed cross. There, my solace and recovery waits in beholding the world’s greatest and final testimony to the supremacy of Love.
Death is agony, and each time I descend again into the dark of my soul it feels like I die in the most painful way. True death to self, however, is only a small prayer away, praise God, because once I again surrender my broken spirit and open my soul to receive the Holy Spirit, I live again more fully than ever before.
The Work of Love
It is Love that humbles me and breaks me each time, so it is possible for me to be remade more radiant. Each time I emerge from the furnace of suffering my heart can shine more brightly with the light of the Love of Him who sat with me in the fiery furnace the whole time, never failing to apply His soothing salve with cool and gentle hands to the aching, broken, burning, writhing, wandering heart I surrendered to Him only falteringly and after a long fight.
Pursuing a true and raw spiritual experience, often feels too real, too loud, too close, too colorful, too colorless and too much of everything for my weak human spirit! I find myself wishing for former days of quiet ignorance, when I would turn to my relationships for stability and spiritual comfort, taking energy from others that was not mine to steal. Through the months of isolation forced upon me this year abroad I have met my own spirit, and seen it for what it is. It is beautiful and alive, but it is like a bare wire or a tiny ball of lightning, too unbalanced to place any trust or the well-being of my soul in. Doing so results in a roller coaster of terrifying ups and downs that leaves me totally drained, but praise God, I am learning that by crucifying my own spirit and living in Christ’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit, I can finally get off the ride. Therefore,
I entreat my God and Savior to never leave the garden of my heart until the work is done. Expel the very last stone, rip from my breast the last deeply rooted weed, rake the last clump of soil into soft mounds, plant the last seed of righteousness, and see it through to maturity, watering it every day. May the Love which first pierced my heart heal me thoroughly. Jesus, I pray, sweat great drops of life-giving blood in the garden of my soul. Get your hands dirty. Drench the dry soil and wrench out the vines of deceit, weakness, superficiality, and selfishness before they choke me!