Our culture tends to center around how we can get what we want and become “happy.” What they don’t prepare you for, though, is what to do when you get everything you thought you wanted, yet still feel completely empty. Almost six years ago, I had just moved out to Los Angeles to “live the dream”, and to be honest with you, I really was. I was getting auditions…booking acting jobs…liked my apartment…was making money…went to parties…found myself intertwined with the “in crowd” (whatever that even means).
Any possible way the world told me I could find value in myself, I pursued. Not only pursued, but I succeeded. But the strangest thing happened…I still didn’t feel valued even when I lived my life in exact accordance with what others promised would fulfill me. My life still seemed meaningless.
I believe that in life, everyone will experience their cave…their darkest place…most isolated moments. While the atmosphere of our caves will be unique, the heart of the cave is the same. The time frame in which we reside in our caves will differ as well…some for a few days, some for a few years. I lived in my cave for about three years until fully leaving it behind. My cave was…
A tiny studio apartment complete with…
More mistakes and failures than I could count…
(and oh so much more)
There was one night in my cave that I remember truly feeling particularly hopeless. Also, the entire time I had been in my cave, I was attempting to push God as far away as possible. I knew He existed…I believed in Him…I just didn’t want Him anywhere near me or my life. However, on this one particularly hopeless night at 1:30 AM, I tried calling a few different friends, but no one was answering. It took me hitting rock bottom in my isolation to finally cry out to God…to pray…to ask Him to enter into my suffering with me. Not really knowing how exactly to begin this dialogue, I recall just saying something along the lines of…
“You know how deeply I am hurting. I don’t even see an end in sight. I can’t do this alone anymore. Please. Help. Please…”
Through reading Psalm 142, David’s prayer in his cave was pretty similar to mine…
“I cry out loudly to God,
loudly I plead with God for mercy.
I spill out all my complaints before him,
and spell out my troubles in detail:
“As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away,
you know how I’m feeling,
Know the danger I’m in,
the traps hidden in my path.
Look right, look left—
there’s not a soul who cares what happens,
I’m up against it, with no exit—
bereft, left alone.
I cry out, God, call out:
‘You’re my last chance, my only hope for life!’
Oh listen, please listen;
I’ve never been this low.”
I must clarify…life with God is not easier. It hasn’t solved all of my problems. It isn’t always warm and fuzzy. I was having a conversation the other night with a good friend of mine, Jessika Fuhrmaneck, who has been on an 8-year journey of restoration from the adult entertainment industry. She was talking to me about the amount of money she was making when she used to dance in the clubs…and how before she laid down her life and began walking with God, she had a nicer car, a nicer home, more money, and ultimately more “value” according to the world’s standards. I shared with Jessika what I shared with you at the beginning of this article…that while I was deeply entrenched in my cave, I had “everything I wanted”…I was living “the dream.” So what was missing? Beauty. Weight. Truth. Hope. Transcendence.
My husband wrote an article today, and this quote really resonated with me…
“Jesus, didn’t come and live a comfortable life, pain, discomfort, and worry free. He lived a life of hurt, and pain, struggle and ultimately sacrifice. Jesus didn’t model for us an easy life, but a beautiful one.”
Life with God didn’t take away my suffering…but just as I mentioned before, God met me in my suffering. In Hebrew, the word glory is referring to heaviness. Glory is a beauty that has weight…and God’s glory is just that. He brings hope…but not just superficial, temporary hope. It is the heavy beauty that makes hope real.
In Psalm 63, David is in the desert, feeling an acute thirst, physically. But he finds that the spiritual thirst is the deep desire that truly needs to be met. David looks back on the moments where he had it all, as I mentioned in my own life. He reigned as king…had great success…yet his soul longed for something more, a purpose that only the glory of God could provide.
What comforted David most deeply wasn’t a god who took away all of his suffering. It was that the God he met in that cave was a god of glory and holiness. I had to learn that prayer wasn’t a transaction, but a relationship. That in prayer, we need to see a God of absolute glory (which brings heavy, deep beauty), because that is what outweighs our problems. His absolute beauty diminishes all others. Absolute love conquers all.
God met David in a cave. He met me in mine. He can meet you in the depths of your soul, no matter how dark. Wherever your cave may be, God not only sees you, but is willing and ready to join you right there, exactly where you are. What’s your cave?