Even though we view Advent as a time of waiting (and it really is a beautiful season of wonder), it is also a time of joy; joy in the waiting, joy in the hope, and joy in the “Christmas” spirit. There are many times we experience joy in the Church throughout the year; Christmas, Easter, an upcoming retreat, possibly a mission trip. These are all times that we “should” be feeling the excitement and being on fire for Jesus….but what happens when we feel disconnected? When we’re in that state of desolation, and we don’t have that connection we so long to feel?
This Advent season was exactly that for me. I was so excited for the season, it was my first since a real change in my heart, and I was genuinely ecstatic. I had my journal, went on a Twitter fast, and told myself I was going to focus solely on my faith in this season. Little did I know, the devil was going to hit me like a bus. The reality is, it happens. I couldn’t get myself to journal, get into His Word, I didn’t feel as though Jesus was there with me. I was having friend issues, relationship troubles, school was so stressful; I didn’t feel that consolation in my faith life that had always kept me afloat. I found myself crying alone in my car more often than praying on my knees, and I knew it. I just couldn’t find it in me.
How do we combat this? During this whole period of desolation, I first of all would not let myself go off the deep end. No matter how I felt, no matter what I did or didn’t do, I wouldn’t let myself lose hope. When I got into a mood or a really down moment, I would say (something along the lines of) “I may not feel You now, I’m so lost and confused, but Jesus I believe. I want to follow Your plan for my life.” Even if I wasn’t sure what I believed, it was still deep in my heart, and it’s probably in yours too. If you’re having doubts, chances are that it’s because you do have such a deep love for our Lord that the evil one is just attacking you. It’s IN YOU!! It really is. Keep that one thread, don’t cut your last tie with Jesus. It’s still there, we just have to dig.
My next tip is to just relax. This sounds like terrible advice, “I can’t relax. I’m stressed, lost, blah blah.” I get it. When I’m in desolation, I try to jam pack my life with books, articles, talks, trying to convince myself that I still believe; trying to force myself back into consolation. It’s then that we all need a reality check. Books, people, and music can’t fulfill us. Only when we go to the Lord can we be changed. I also would just block out prayer in general. “I’m not gonna feel anything in prayer anyway, so I just won’t pray all together.” That was honestly my mindset. Make yourself just rest. Rest in His peace. Rest in His love. Contemplate our God who made the WHOLE UNIVERSE! He made the land, sea, animals, and YOU! One night in prayer I heard the Father say “You are precious.” You are precious, and He is there waiting for you even when you feel He is not. Our Lord is there waiting for us to engage in relationship. We can become so lost, so scattered…but He will never waver.
Hang on brothers and sisters, when all hope seems lost, look to the One who created our whole world. He was born humbly in a manger, died on a Cross for us, rose from the dead, and now rules our hearts now and into eternity. You’re never too far gone to return to our Father. He is there, even in the desolation. “Desolation is a file, and the endurance of darkness is preparation for great light.” – St. John of the Cross