On being loved: A thought on spiritual dry spells

December 17, 2008 | 11 comments


A while back fellow convert, regular commenter and occasional guest blogger Steve G. emailed me with some thoughts on a long period of darkness that he experienced. His reflection was so interesting and thought-provoking that I just couldn’t keep it to myself, so I asked if I could share it here. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with Steve G., I highly recommend checking out some of his other writing here.) Here is what he wrote:


It’s amazing, but the darkness that I have been under for at least half a year now suddenly and nearly miraculously has begun to lift. It’s in part contributable to just getting healthy, finally getting some decent sleep with the relief of the sleep apnea, having lost 30 pounds, and that kind of stuff. But the real turning point came just within the last week, and I thought I’d share it with you briefly in case it’s any help:

Firstly, the fertile soil of it was laid down by the fact that I’ve finally again (after several years of slacking) begun to attend the daily noon Mass, across the street from where I work, for the last month or so. The gift of the Eucharist has been a great consolation of late.

Anyway, as I’ve been struggling through that darkness, I’ve been as faithful as ever (more if I am honest) in prayer, spiritual direction, and spiritual reading. As I said earlier, this period has really driven me into the arms of Jesus on all those fronts. But one morning as I was reading another small section of Pope Benedict’s book Jesus of Nazareth, and I stumbled on this little passage:

“Man lives on truth and on being loved: on being loved by the truth.”

This seemingly simple passage gave me a real jolt. It came from the fact that it immediately changed my perspective of the relationship with God on its head. We (I at least) are constantly so focused on our part in the relationship — Am I praying enough?, Am I praying correctly?, Am I doing enough?, Am I good enough?, Are my thoughts on God and his presence (or seeming lack)?, and so on. Everything we view is from our perspective and how we feel about and view Him and the relationship. It can be downright self-centered if I can accuse myself.

This passage forced me for a moment to think about the fact that He loves me (vs. how I feel about Him). That really, He is the motive force in the relationship, not I. Pope Benedict says, peace only comes from being loved. And of course it is in that being loved by the source of all love, that we then love Him and others in return. But again, it is HIS love for us that is driver here, not our efforts.

How often do we think about that? How often do recall how much we are really loved?

I know that I occasionally say it (He died for me, He gave himself up for me, etc.), but do I really ponder that and what it means? I know that I don’t do so nearly enough, if at all.

To stop and ponder that, and to try to keep it in mind first (even before my own feelings and actions if possible) was a real wake up call. If He who IS, truly loves me, what should I fear? Why should I not trust? Why should I be anything other than at peace? If He truly loves me, and I believe it, He holds me in the palm of His hand, and all will be well, and all manner of things will be well…regardless of what comes.

This perspective has begun to bring me great peace of mind.

I know that the living out of this still is the challenge, but for what it’s worth, this has really been helpful for me to keep in mind. His love for me, for us, rather than focusing so much on myself and my own love for Him. If I can live within the former, the later takes care of itself.


  1. Gorgasal

    Very nice post. Reminds me of the priest’s words at my last confession, which also hit right home.

    Thank you for your post! And my prayers are with you for your darkness to lift!

  2. Hope

    This makes me think of what writer Brennan Manning has said: “It is more important that we let God love us than that we love God.”
    When I first heard that I thought it might be blashpemous….but if I can let God love me, the rest flows from there.

  3. Carly

    Oh how I needed to hear that right now. Thank you for sharing.

    In Christ,

  4. Hannah

    As someone who’s currently trying to connect with God, if He’s out there (I was raised atheist), and work out what He’s like, I found this really interesting. I’ve been so preoccupied on what I might have to do or how I might have to pray, etc. that I think sometimes I lose sight of what I’m actually searching for.

    Thanks for giving me a new perspective 🙂

  5. Bethgem

    Similar to being loved, the Episcopal morning and evening prayers are always bringing me face-to-face with the fact that I’m dependent on God even for my side of the relationship. It’s a good and right thing to ask for grace to obey, love, be grateful, etc., but that grace comes from God. I don’t remember the Catholic missal well, but I would guess that their prayers are similar in focus?

    God is so good.

  6. Heather of the EO

    This is something I’ve REALLY been trying to learn. To just sit in God’s love and REALLY know it is something (sadly) kind of foreign to me. What I was brought up in was so much more focused in what I’m doing. God’s love is SO much bigger than what we imagine it to be. And YES, if we could truly grasp that love for us, everything else (what we do and how much we pray, etc) would fall into place.

    I love this post.

  7. The Sojourner

    This post echoes very strongly something God’s been telling me about lately.


  8. a square peg

    as usual, steve has great stuff to say. thanks for sharing!

  9. Whimsy

    Could you give this a “Steve G writings” tag?

    I perused through the entries with that tag per the link embedded in this post, and found them very worthwhile.


  10. The Koala Bear Writer

    One of the most spiritual times in my life was when I was completely alone and depressed… and God showed me just how much He loves me. It was amazing. As you say, so often we focus on our side of the relationship and forget His side. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. frizzy scissorhands

    we all experience a dark night of the soul, at some point in our lives … st. john of the cross wrote about it so beautifully.

    also … often we need to examine what we put at the centre of our hearts … God is not the process … God is. Somtimes we forget.

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