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The End of the Dark Night of the Soul? Turning the Page in 2013 (Miniblog #167)

by Carson T. Clark on January 10, 2013

Preface.1

I graduated college in spring 2009. Each of the four years since then have been inordinately difficult. Whether it has been estrangement or a lost sense of purpose, depression or sickness,1.To see a kind of narrative continuity with his post, I wanted to provide a few links to earlier posts. These are from August 2009, October 2010, May 2011, and July 2011, respectively:
Feeling Old at 24
Miniblog #26: Recalibrating My Life
Learning Disability & the Dark Night of the Soul: Accepting, Overcoming, Revisioning
I’m Very Human: A Post of Spiritual and Psychological Transparency
unemployment or church turmoil, I’ve rarely felt like I was thriving as I did the preceding seven years. Most often I felt like I was barely holding on, to be honest.2 For the first time in a long time, however, I have hope. There’s obvious light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe, just maybe, the dark night of the soul is finally drawing to an end. I’m making a concerted effort to turn the page in 2013. I want nothing more than to look back on this year like I did all those years from 2002-2008 and simply think, ‘Ya know, this has been a good year. Thanks be to God.’ In reflecting on this I had a realization.2.It’s been more than sheer life circumstances, though. I also went through a lot of difficult things in the years before. Something changed, though. I lost that underlying sense of joy amidst the inevitable trying times. Quite often when I battle depression, whether severe or just a kind of elongated funk, my activities change. I developed certain coping mechanisms that when protracted long enough became habits. The trouble is, even after my psychological, intellectual, and spiritual states have been turned around those patterns of behavior remain. The result is that despite by God’s grace getting my heart, mind, and spirit right my behavior inadvertently has clung onto the depressive state, usually pulling me back down into the depression.33.And so the cycle repeats, or even spirals downward. It seems to me a big part of the answer, then, is to focus energy on changing the behavior and breaking those habits now that I’ve had palpable recovery. In other words: It’s unwise to assume behavior will change after depression passes.44.This may well fall under the category of “No crap, Sherlock. Thanks for the profound insight.” Nevertheless, it struck me as significant. The past few months I’ve spent a good deal of time reflecting on my values, who I’ve been made to be, and what God’s calling is. Now it’s time to intentionally live into those things. Without calling it a New Year’s resolution, I’ve committed to working hard to forge some new, healthy habits.55.Most of it’s relatively simple stuff like keeping a good bed time, maintaining a daily prayer life, or cutting out TV except sports and date night Netflix. So far so good. The difference now is that I finally see that I can’t keep it up on my own strength. I’m truly dependent I am upon the Lord, and I think that’s a good place to be.

  • http://patheos.com/blogs/thepangeablog/ Kurt Willems

    Amen!

    • http://twitter.com/carsontclark Carson T. Clark

      Thanks, man.

  • http://derekzrishmawy.com/ Derek Rishmawy

    I read this in the facebook form and didn’t have time to comment.

    First, I’m really glad to hear the clowds are starting to part for you, my friend. Praise be to God.
    Second, I’m excited to see the fruit that comes from it.

    Third, your resolution is wise. It reminds me of the process of sanctification. When converted, you are truly given a new nature with resurrection power, but the power of indwelling sin is all the same old habits we used to resort to as coping mechanisms in a world of sin, ie. the flesh.

    May God bless you in this page-turning!

    • http://twitter.com/carsontclark Carson T. Clark

      Thanks. Yet I would like to nuance your third point. Certainly there are some things that are clearly sinful and those habits need to be broken. But there are other things that aren’t necessarily sinful but are just bad habits, e.g. TV watching. Of course, with a very broad definition of sin such as Keller’s “that which opposes human flourishing,” I suppose it might be sinful… Anyway, you get my drift.

    • http://derekzrishmawy.com/ Derek Rishmawy

      Oh, sure. Of course not all the habits are sinful. It just reminded me of it. Dallas Willard on “the flesh” has been super helpful for me to understand this stuff btw.

    • http://twitter.com/carsontclark Carson T. Clark

      Always appreciative of such suggestions. Thank you.

  • PhiLiP s. SchMidT

    Whoa Nelly. As odd as this may sound, your musings are my wake-up call. So much for “Jesus makes me a happy boy” bumper-sticker sloganism.

    PhiL {‘•_•’}

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