The Light of the Moon in the Dark Night of My Soul
This is part 2 of a two-part series on my experience with philosophical depression. Part 1 is The Dark Night of My Soul. I hope you benefit from my story!
Four weeks ago I was standing on a beach on the coast of Georgia, watching the full moon rise over the water, bearing my soul to a dear brother in Christ about my sin, the foolish pride of my heart that led me to question God and doubt His goodness, grace, and mercy; but today my thoughts are the exact opposite, and I find it an odd coincidence that I'm here, on yet another beach—this one in Florida, watching the moon rise from my third floor balcony and glisten against the rippling Atlantic. I see my error. I repent of my sin and I humble myself before the Lord. And that is freeing me to experience the glory of my God, free from doubt and cynicism and darkness. I'm freed to exist in the present and listen to what my heart is experiencing on this, a small piece of His creation. I’m free to be created.
I'm a young man with ambition and dreams, most of which are unfulfilled. I wish the world were a better place, that I could change it in some way, that I, in my humble service, could give life to the dying and love to the abused. Like every true philanthropist I’m crushed by all that I can’t do, and like every fake philanthropist, I sooth my soul by reminding myself of how much I do already. My heart longs for peace and rest so much that my darkness comes from my ambition, from taking on the responsibility of God to see His project of Redemption to its completion myself.
But that’s just not the way it works. That load almost broke me, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. Since I couldn’t be sure to help everything and everyone, I lost motivation to help at all. I couldn’t run around helping people while God sat back and let it happen to them. I couldn’t reconcile His passivity with His promise of active and final Redemption. I couldn’t handle the idea of living my life for a cause that I would ultimately not be able to complete. How am I to fight, in the midst of so much death, knowing the best I can hope for is death myself? How do I preach a Gospel of life to a mother whose child has none? How can I pour my entire life out as just a drop in the ocean, never assuming full responsibility for Redemption while also never giving up believing Redemption is happening? How can I give my life to fighting the long defeat without sign of victory, especially when that defeat is taking so many people around me with it?
My questions swallowed me for a long time, but God pursued me in my darkness and showed me how to be created. When I gave God the reigns and submitted myself to that long defeat, something odd happened to my ambition: when I gave up trying to run my life and the entire world, I stopped being crippled by my yearning for rest and began dreaming again and actually praying for my dreams to come true. When I stopped trying to fix everything, I began living the life of a created being, a small piece in a seemingly infinite puzzle of God’s Sovereign making.
And as I look out over this beautiful painting He has created that I call home, I'm stunned by its glory. Its incomparable beauty. And I'm reminded that the thing I want most in life is to participate in this grand chorus of glory, to have my own piece in His production. I can’t fix everything, but I want to fix something. The meaning in my life doesn’t come from me, it comes from Him, because in His light I find my meaning in experiencing his glory and sharing that experience with those whose eyes may be more blind than mine. Ultimately, I’m not made to solve cosmic problems, I am made for glory, and that's not mere ambition or youthful pride. I was created to receive glory from the one who created all this glory (Rom 2:6-10).
The small ways I do that are very unimportant. I used to lower my shoulder and chant that life is a fight—and it is, but it's more. It's a calling. A calling placed upon my soul by my Maker to love and be loved, to serve along with Him and join hands with the rising moon and say to the world, I'm chasing a glory your Maseratis know nothing of, a glory that doesn't fade or diminish but grows with time as time unfolds like an infinite scroll.
I can’t fix everything; I’m just a man (and a poor excuse for one at that). I’m a twenty-something who blogs about his problems in a feeble attempt to show God’s grace getting me through this time in my life when I first figure this stuff out. And I think I’ve finally learned my place and am comfortable telling the mother who lost her baby that Yes, God is Love, and Yes, He is Redeeming everything; Neither of those facts are affected by the darkness
The moon is out of sight now, but its affects are all around me. As C. S. Lewis wrote, I believe in the sun not because I see it all the time, but because by it I see everything else. I stared into the light of the moon and had these thoughts, then I wrote them down and used the light of the moon to look out at the world I've been given. Is there a better picture of life? We are to look to God and listen to Him, and then go out and use that message to define us—everything about us—and motivate us in the right paths.
I still yearn for peace and rest, and I still get frustrated that I am so incapable of Redemption, but I know I am created. I’m created for the new Eden, for which I long, and I’m created to worship God, who alone gets credit for Redemption. There’s a reason I can’t fix everything: I’m not the one getting the glory. Only God can accomplish a project so cosmic: only God can get that glory. So while my yearning and frustration remain, they no longer drive me to the darkness; instead, they motivate me to the glory of the light. Because I’m not God, but His created world is mine to love and this created body is mine to give.