Advent Reflection | Sunday: Psalms 22-24; Jeremiah 5.18-31; 2 Thessalonians 3.1-18

From: Amanda Bennett

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? Psalm 22:1

When I moved to Boston, I came in the conviction that God was calling me to prayer as a vocation. For the first year, this went roughly according to plan: I prayed more than I ever had before in my life, and I started to actually, consciously, vividly love Jesus. Then, two years ago, a deep well of trauma and pain I had been mostly keeping at bay erupted. Almost overnight I stopped being able to count on the mental stability to be alone, still, or silent long enough to pray. I was in a room with God, and then the lights went out.

I still prayed, but it wasn't like before—it wasn't like breathing, it wasn't like being with the person I loved, it wasn't like going home. At first I trusted that God was working something in me in this darkness and silence, but after it had been going on for over a year, I started forgetting what I was waiting for. I wondered how long I could spend not praying before I had to accept that I had been wrong that it was what I was supposed to spend my life doing.

Two months ago I told a friend that I still knew I loved God, but the means of intimacy had evaporated. She looked at me and answered, “What a huge loss.” The revelation that I was feeling grief, not guilt, slammed into me. I hadn't disappointed my boss, I was in exile from the home in myself. I was missing my closest friend. A door in me opened, and I spent the next week flooded with two years of sorrow that I hadn't been able to feel. Then, after I received the words to grieve, the lights came back on as suddenly as they went out.

The first words I found to pray were “Do you know how thirsty I have been?” Then I understood that if anyone knows the pain of having and losing intimacy with God, it's Jesus, the one who cried “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In all that silence and distance, I was in a place Jesus had already been, a place where he was giving himself to me. In the darkness, the true light comes.

Most people find me in a crowd by scanning for my curly red hair and exaggerated fear of being misunderstood. I have strong opinions about poetry and weak opinions about music. I will drink bad coffee as long as it's in a handmade mug.