The first thing I want to say about the dark night of the soul is this: It’s not you.
Think of it like a baby.
At some point, that little one begins to push herself over from her belly to her back, or from her back to her belly. At some point, those two tiny front teeth begin to push their way through her gums, and then the rest follow. At some point, she starts to take those wobbly first steps.
It’s awkward. Some of it is painful. But it’s meant to happen. She’s meant to grow.
Or think of it like an adolescent.
Those growing pains in the leg that begin around age 8 and happen again at age 12. Long, lanky legs, growing even longer. Feeling achy, like bones and muscles stretching themselves from the inside — which they are.
It’s painful. It’s awkward. But it’s supposed to happen. Those legs are meant to grow, even though it hurts.
The dark night of the soul is awkward, confusing, painful, lonely.
And yet there can be comfort in knowing this is an intended course of events. We’re growing. It’s happening as it’s meant to happen, at the time it’s meant to happen — just like our physical bodies.
It’s not you.
If God seems absent or your spiritual life has grown dry and crusty — almost lifeless — that doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong. That doesn’t mean it’s time to self-flagellate or shame yourself into being better or doing more right.
It’s a time to open yourself to invitation and possibility — the invitation and possibility of what God is doing in you and what God is growing you to be.