Choosing to Sit in the Darkness Even When It’s Uncomfortable

Sometimes we as Christians don’t allow ourselves to ask the questions.

Or we move too quickly to give answers - for ourselves or others - offering automatic responses, like, “It’ll all work out in the end,” or “Just trust God,” or a dozen other similar phrases.

I myself am guilty of this.

I want a quick resolution; I want the uncomfortable feelings to end right now. << Click to Tweet

But trusting God and loving God doesn’t mean your life will be perfect. In fact, if we follow in the footsteps of Jesus and other great leaders in history who have chosen a similar path (Ghandi, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Bishop Oscar Romero, Mother Teresa, and many more unnamed heroes and heroines), then we will meet suffering along the way. I know this and yet, it still surprises me.

If I am real and honest about it, I have been in a difficult season.

Moving to Belize has been a wonderful experience in so many ways; it has given me opportunities I wouldn’t have gained anywhere else. But it has also been very hard as well. My experience is riddled with small, unexpected frustrations like the constant presence of ants on my counter that get into my sugar. Or mold growing on my favorite shoes (and everything else in my closet) during the wet season. There are days when the heat and humidity literally soak me all day long. There is also the threat of snakes and the presence of pesky mosquitoes.

And there are bigger challenges too. I feel alone and miss not being known on the deep levels that I was at home, not having that history with anyone here (apart from my dear husband, of course). The homesickness is painful at times; I miss family, community, and sandwiches (I never knew how deeply my heart could ache for a good old turkey sandwich).

Many factors have led to a difficult second semester here, including an unexpected, but temporary move. It has been hard learning to navigate a new culture, in fact,  several new cultures (Mennonite, Latino, Creole, Mayan, Asian), as Belize is home to so many types of people (one of the amazing things about it). I have been to the doctor more times this year than I have been in the last five years (or more) due to my body’s aptitude for catching parasites, plus several other unrelated health issues that have emerged.

I have found some solace in the writings of other people of faith who dare to ask the questions - women like Kathleen Norris, Emily Dickinson, Barbara Kingsolver, and Lauren Winner. In her recent book, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, Winner grapples poetically with many doubts and questions about her faith, brought on by a divorce as well as the death of her mother. In one chapter, she tells a friend about her deep loneliness, and her friend responds, “Maybe I should try to stay in the loneliness, just for five minutes. Maybe the loneliness has something for me. Maybe I should see what that something is.” This practice doesn’t necessarily end the loneliness for Winner, but it makes me think.

Sometimes running away from questions or uncomfortable experiences is counterproductive. <<Click to Tweet

Sometimes we need to sit with them for a little while, to see what they might have for us, if anything.

Says Marilyn Chandler McEntyre in her poem, What to do in Darkness,

“Go slowly
Consent to it
But don’t wallow in it
Know it as a place of germination
And growth.”

It is not easy for me to go slowly when I’m in a period that feels so dark. I want to hurry out of it as soon as I can. But if I do that, I may miss something.

So, I am trying to sit with the hard questions, with the loneliness, and the discomfort, the bugs, and even the mold.

I am taking this time to meditate, pray, do yoga, read, drink tea and coffee, and journal a lot. It is in my nature to look for the positives in difficult situations, and I will do that, but I don’t want to rush it.

I will first see what the darkness has for me, if anything. And I will remember that, in difficult times, I am in good company.

Micalagh Beckwith Moritz is a social worker, writer, wife, sister, daughter, community member, continually learning how to do a better job at each of these roles. She is always contemplating how to love others better and to enjoy the small things of life; to see God in everything and everyone. She is passionate about caring for the environment, experiencing new cultures, and also important, eating cheese. She currently lives in Belize and has the privilege of teaching and learning from college/university students! She works with a Christian study abroad program and blogs at Only Small Things.

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