"..Jesus retreated periodically to lonely and abandoned places to find refreshment and strength in intimacy with God, and invited his disciples to do the same. In the garden and on the cross, he experienced the deceptive feeling of abandonment which is the shadow side of desert experience and the "dark night of the soul" that comes before the dawn of the promised New Day experienced by everyone called to seek God alone." (Source: School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism)
I have experienced this "dark night of the soul" on two occasions. The first was when David and I relocated to Kenya. It was in the first few weeks while we were adjusting to our new life that we confronted this feeling of abandonment. The feeling of "what have we done?" I believe we felt this the most on a night when the electricity had gone out (again) and we were struggling to cook a meal in our home that at the time had big, black rats that came out in the dark, and we realized that our friends and family were no where near.
The second occasion was also a time of relocation when we decided to move downtown to a more diverse neighborhood. Again, I felt this abandonment that we had chosen to live in an area far from friends and family and in a neighborhood that took time to overcome preconceived fears.
"Relocation expresses conversion and commitment, the decision to resist imperial pressures and rewards of conformity to the way of all empires: pride, power, and reduction of all values to the "bottom line." It is a coming out from under, a liberation, and a real challenge." (Source: School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism)
Looking back at these two occasions I can now see how these relocations gave me liberation and real challenge! Both have given me a new focus in life and have caused me to want to live out a life of compassion and service for the kingdom of God.
Have any of you had a "dark night of the soul" that at first look felt like abandonment but with time and commitment became an experience of new focus?