A few weeks ago, I wrote about Jesus as our dark night companion.
Coming across Tim Mackie’s podcast discussing how Jesus experienced His own mental health struggles added a new dimension to my relationship with Jesus. What I had thought was an already close relationship with Jesus has only grown and strengthened since that podcast.
Apparently, the trinity is seeking my attunement as I’ve recently encountered the Spirit anew, too.
My past with the Holy Spirit could best be described similarly to my past with Jesus. While there may be an abundance of silence present in my recollections, I don’t necessarily feel that as abandonment. With a persistent internal dialogue as an internal processor, silence is a welcome gift. But, the concreteness of the Spirit has always lacked.
Where I can see Jesus as a human and pull from an abundance of interactions with humans to create a mental picture, and God as an authority and I can pull from my interactions with authority to paint His mental picture, I don’t have a similar, grounding mental picture of the Spirit.
But, I was watching one of Tim Mackie’s lectures in the Introduction to the Hebrew Bible class (that’s available for free on the Bible Project website). Tim was walking through various aspects of the Hebrew Bible and when he discussed the relationship between the Spirit and humans, he said:
“The Christian tradition has found it hard to maintain something biblical authors view as a unity, namely that when God’s Spirit is at work, what it means is that humans are at work, who are so in tune with God’s will that it’s a marvel to behold. What we tend to do is separate and say that if God is at work, it’s at the expense of human involvement. But that’s never the way the Spirit works.”
In an accompanying handout with the class, it’s written that the Bible is the product of a human-divine partnership, neither one canceling out the other. While about the Bible, this statement seems fitting for much of the goodness we see in the world. It occurs in this humane-divine partnership, where we need God and He needs us.
For me to best relate to this decision I think of my relationship with my son. I think of how there are times when I could choose to do things on my own and get them done quicker, more efficiently, and to the degree I want them done. But, instead, I chose to involve my son. This tends to mean that it is done slower, not always to my standards, and it could end up creating more work for me in the end.
But I still chose to do things with him often. Why?
Because I delight in him.
Just as our Father delights in us.
Think about it. God created the universe! The stars, the sky, the waters, the animals and humanity. He could have continued as He was and kept cranking things out with divine perfection. But He didn’t.
He chose to journey with us and when you look out and see the goodness in the world that is an effect of the beautiful partnership between the Spirit and humanity.
And what does this have to do with mental health? We are a people wired for connection. When defense mechanisms are worked through and maladaptive coping skills identified and processed, what we are left with is people who deeply desire to be in relationship with others.
And we have a God who feels the same way. He didn’t give each of us His spirit and He didn’t choose this partnership between Himself and humanity for the fun of it. He chose it because He, too, seeks deep, meaningful connections with us.
Our dark night companion doesn’t only want to meet us in the dark, He wants to delight in our every day, too.
Kylie Larson, MA, LPC