The Meme went like this
I had to share 5 things I "love" about Jesus.
WHY I LOVE JESUS.
1) HE loved me first.
2) HE suffered, was crucified, died, was buried, went to hell and back, and rose from the dead for me.
3) HE listens to me when I speak to HIM.
4) HE always answers my requests, though admittedly, He sometimes says "no"
5) HE has never forsaken me.
The first 4 reasons are straightforward catechism rote answers. Really they are what we are supposed to answer. In fact I was once complemented on the perfectness of the answers.
The last one though is not rote learned catechism. I honestly believe He has never forsaken me, not even when I walked away from Him and stayed away, wanting nothing to do with Him for those 10 years.
Most people don't see that statement as anything other than in the ethereal idea that God doesn't forsake His creations. I mean how many people actually have felt and pondered what would happen if God were to just give up on us? What would happen if |He were to declare His experiment a disaster, and like the master craftsman who is disappointed with his work, tossed everything into the trash, turned out the lights and decided to start all over in the morning?
30 years ago I left the church. I walked out the doors after mass on a Sunday morning and never went back for ten years. I spent the next ten years searching for I don't know what. Knowledge? Truth? The future? I still don't know.
It was 20 years ago, I started my return to the church, basically because attending Church meant the world to Bear, and he wanted to marry in the church, so for Bear, and to humour him I went back. But I told myself, that it was nothing. But I started to believe again. My soul started to yearn for my God again. My faith grew, without any effort on my part, actually I fought against it. But IN the end I was back, much to my surprise.
Then 10 years ago, just as my faith was the strongest it had ever been. It hadn't even been that strong on my confirmation day, I suffered dark night of the soul; I took up residence in a most disturbing mansion of the interior castle, a harsh spiritual dryness parched my soul- whatever is your preferred phrase.
I came to the harsh realization that I could never be worthy of heaven. On my own, I could never survive the struggle for my soul. In short I came to the horrible understanding that the enemy really was waiting to snatch souls at the most simple provocation. And for months this is where the the realization stayed. The realization of this truth gripped me a paralyzed my soul. For months I could not get past the total desolation of my soul. I prayed more and more, and yet it felt like I was talking to the wind, the wall, the air, myself. I stopped feeling God. My words, my supplications were falling on non-existent ears. He had walked away from me, like I had walked away from Him. But it wasn't the same. Even when I had refused him, He still extended to me His protection and love and mercy. He hadn't left me alone. Now I understood what it would have meant if he had abandoned me when I abandoned Him.
I came to the harsh and horrible realisation that I would never, on my own, be the saint God wanted me to be. I alone could not defend myself against evil. I would never be able to atone for leaving him and for all that hell through which I dragged myself. The enemy had been there waiting. I could have fallen so easily. It is easy to see the enemy in his true form and say I reject you, but what about when he appears in his beautiful form. When in disguise, can we recognize the truth before falling.
Then I saw clearly that God was willing it all. I had no idea if God had ordained my spiritual suffering or just permitted it. It didn't matter. It brought me to the realization that God controls all. Nothing happens without God's permission. Even when we turn away from Him. Even when we unwittingly put ourselves in evil's path, God protects us even as we ignore asking for His protection. And if He permits temporary suffering, it is always for the purpose for which He does everything. He does all this because He actually gives a damn about us, me, this insignificant creature put together from random atoms that found cohesiveness in this physical body.
It's been ten years since my dark night. And all I can say is: it is very much better to have God in my life then to have Him leave.