When God Goes Dark…

Many of us are in need of being healed from our own egoism.  Recently, I’ve been re-reading Dallas Willard’s, The Divine Conspiracy.  In the first chapter of this book, Willard suggests,

“Egoism is a pathological self-obsession, a reaction to anxiety about whether one really    does count.  It is a form of acute self consciousness and  can be prevented and healed only by the experience of being adequately loved.  It is indeed, a desperate response to frustration of the need we all have to count for something and be held to be irreplaceable, without price.”

But what if you are told you are “easily” replaceable as I experienced this past year?  (As an aside, I’m sure this isn’t what was intended to be communicated.)  But what if your contribution is perceived to be so easily dismissed by those in positions of authority?  This unintended undermining of my sense of value revealed to me my “pathological obsession with self.”  I’ve always been a person in search of significance, in search of the God given creative impulse to count in the specific context in which He has placed me; however I am learning that this search is quickly perverted by anxiety and self consciousness.  Egoists are always “the dominant figures in their own field of vision.”  I think we can all relate to moments of self-obsession especially when dealing with the residual anger of a wounded ego.  Willard suggest that “being adequately loved,” is the only prevention and medicine for healing a wounded self-conscious.

Willard’s quotation above raises the question about my experience of being adequately loved.  I believe theoretically that we can only be adequately loved by our Creator.  Spouses, parents, children can love but we are fallen creatures all in possession of very large egos.  It has been said that we often hurt the ones we love the most.  I believe that those in our closest circles of trust can and often do inflict the worst wounds whether intended or not.  But what of God in all this?  What happens when your belief in the One doesn’t correspond with your experience of Him?  If he is the source of adequate love, what happens when your belief that God is love and that he loves your soul doesn’t correspond with a tangible personal experience of this love?  As a confession, I have few answers for this conundrum.  I find myself intellectually committed to the healing powers of God’s love but far removed from the tangible experience of this love and not sure how to connect the two.  I’m convinced that this conundrum is a product of my own spiritual far sightedness and not His unwillingness to provide such love.  I’ve heard the “how to” words and quoted the verses but “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

And what about when God goes dark, when our ego’s shadow eclipses the Son?  When we become the dominant figure in our own field of vision, God is moved to a subsidiary awareness.  The source of potential healing love cannot flow into the recesses of our broken ego because we no longer look to the source but retreat into our own shell as it were and erect fortresses built on anger and disappointment.  “Anger feeds on anger… anger embraced is, accordingly, inherently disintegrative of human personality and life.”  and I would add all relationships starting with God.   We effectively close ourselves of to the prospect of being loved.    We can no longer see the forest through the trees. My advice… Go out and buy the biggest freakin’ chain saw you can find and clear a path.  Confess and start cutting!

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3 Responses to When God Goes Dark…

  1. Curt says:

    Great article Tyler. I can relate to this: “I find myself intellectually committed to the healing powers of God’s love but far removed from the tangible experience of this love and not sure how to connect the two.”

    When I read this a thought came to mind. How do we receive love? Love is usually express in 5 ways: the love languages. Although we tend to receive love primarily in one of those ways, people may be expressing love using their love language. Sometimes a lack of feeling love is really just a disconnect between the expression and the reception. I wonder if we have a similar situation here. Perhaps I need to focus more on trying to “find” the ways God is already loving me. Perhaps he loved me through an act of service today, perhaps expressed through a friend or spouse. Perhaps he gave me a word of affirmation, again through a friend, through the mind or through devotional study. Perhaps he gave me a gift today. Perhaps he reached out and touched me today through the hands of another.

    I know I would love to have the “big fuzzy metaphysical” sense of Love that is “beamed down from on-high”. But when I reflect on my, admittedly flawed, understanding of love as I know it through my relationship with my wife, I don’t see love being expressed that way. Instead perhaps love becomes a summation of all of the things we have done together, all the times we have spend together, all the words that have been said, all the healing performed after an awful word said in anger. Ultimately love is not something you can put your finger on but you know it is there and when you go out and look for it you find it.

  2. ryan says:

    Tyler,

    Your last paragraph was a cop-out! What does the “chainsaw” metaphor translate to in real life?

    • tyler says:

      Ryan, it sounds like you may have a suggestion given your first sentence. I’d love to hear it. The chainsaw is a reference to confession and repentance. The only way I can imagine that we begin to deal with our own self-aggrandizing is to begin by cutting at the trunk that obscures our view of God. After all, a goal of the Christian life is to die to self. I struggle to wrap my head around the implications of this because I love myself too much probably all the time. It’s a good thing as Willard suggests that “one can be a raw and incompetent beginner and still be a disciple.”

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