Episode 22: Praying Without Words: What To Do When You Hit The Wall

In times when language doesn't express fully your love for God, or pain, hurt or struggle, there's ways to continue praying without words.  We look at The Dark Night of the Soul, and define the "darkness" as "unknowing" instead of necessarily "scary" (like being left alone in the dark).  We look at different methods for approaching God + theology, Cataphatic & Apophatic. (The "knowing" that comes with language or the ability to describe, and the knowing that is too deep for words). 

The Dark Night of the Soul

In every developmental model that we've looked at in the past few episodes (M. Scott Peck, St. Teresa's Mansions, James Fowler's Stages of Faith), they have two similar parts:
1. The Dark Night of the Soul
2. Every pattern ends with Union with God

The Dark Night is an "Unknowing" (see Gearld May's book), as opposed to "Scary" (see the original writing from St. John of the Cross in Spanish).

You can feel alive & experience God's presence, but not know what's happening, or how to move forward.

The Dark Night of the Soul: A Psychiatrist Explores the Connection Between Darkness and Spiritual Growth
by Gearld May

Footprints in the Sand:
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed
he was walking along the beach with the LORD.

Across the sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene he noticed two sets of
footprints in the sand: one belonging
to him, and the other to the LORD.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.

He noticed that many times along the path of
his life there was only one set of footprints.

He also noticed that it happened at the very
lowest and saddest times in his life.

This really bothered him and he
questioned the LORD about it:

"LORD, you said that once I decided to follow
you, you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when
I needed you most you would leave me."

The LORD replied:

"My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you."

Author: Carolyn Joyce Carty
Cataphatic & Apaphatic: Attempting to Capture Truth

Cataphatic: truth that we can put language to. Apaphatic: truth that we have, without being able to fully describe it.

Our notions of love are so thread-bare compared to the reality of God's love, that all we can really say it "God is not hate."

Susette Magana
Episode 21: Long Lost Friends: Faith & Human Development | James W. Fowler's Stages of Faith

How does our view of God & His love for us change as we grow from childhood into adulthood?  Looking at how our faith develops over the span of human development, using James W. Fowler's Stages of Faith.  We talk a lot of attachment theory, and how we have frozen in different developmental stages in a few ways.   

Debate: Who's the bigger nerd?  Susette or Brandon?

You can vote on our Desire Line Podcast Community on Facebook!

The OC Supertones "Found"

A Chart comparing Fowler's Stages of Faith with M. Scott Peck (see ep 15-18 of the Desire Line)


Information on this episode was taken from this article by Rose Anne Karesh (Thank you, Rose Anne!): 


From the article:

James Fowler's Stages of Faith
Stage 1:
(3 to 7 years ) Intuitive–Projective stage in which children are beginning to be able to use symbols and their imaginations. However children in this stage are very self-focused and inclined to take very literally (and self-referentially) ideas about evil, the devil or other negative aspects of religion. The ability to sort out reality from fantasy is not well developed.

Stage 2:
(6-12 years, school age) Mythic–Literal stage in which information is organized into stories. These stories, along with moral rules, are understood literally and concretely. There is little ability to step back from the story and formulate an overarching meaning. Justice and fairness are seen as reciprocal. A few people remain in this stage throughout their lives.

Stage 3:
(adolescence to early adulthood, some people remain permanently in this stage) Synthetic–Conventional stage in which people believe without having critically examined their beliefs. Their beliefs are in what they have been taught and in what they see “everyone else” as believing too. There is a strong sense of identity with the group. People in this stage are not very open to questions because questions are frightening at this point of development. People in this stage place a large amount of trust in external authority figures and tend not to recognize that they are within a belief system “box” as their beliefs are internalized but have not been examined.

Stage 4:
(the earlier in adulthood the easier on the person) Individuative-Reflective stage in which a person begins to recognize they are in a “box” and look outside it. People in this stage ask questions and see the contradictions or problems in their beliefs. This can be a very painful stage as old ideas are now modified and sometimes rejected altogether. Some people give up on faith altogether at this point but faith can be strengthened in this stage as beliefs become explicitly, personally held. There is a strong reliance on the logic, rational mind and the self.

Stage 5:
(usually not before mid-life) Conjunctive stage in which a person who has gone through the deconstruction of the Individuative-Reflective stage begins to let go of some of the reliance on their own rational mind and recognize that some experiences are not logical or easily understood at all. The move here is from either/or to both/and; complexity and paradox are embraced. People in this stage are more willing to dialogue with people of other faiths, seeking further information and correction to their own beliefs, and are able to do this without letting go of their own faith.

Stage 6:
Universalizing stage. Very few people reach this stage, which is characterized by seeing all of humanity as one brotherhood and taking profound, self-sacrificing action to care for all humanity because of this view.

Article on Play Therapy:

Episode 18: Integrating God's Goodness | Spiritual Development IV

How do Christians engage in drawing closer to God in a real church environment?  This is a break-it-down episode, where we spend time talking more about moralism + hedonism and how we experience M. Scott Peck's Stage 2 in our lives, and in our churches.  

We break down the concept of inviting God into the darkness of our shameful thoughts by asking "God, how can you be so good?" in the midst of it. 

Stage 2 can be associated with high degrees of rigidity

Brandon's theory: The Anatomy of Religious Rigidity

Two ways to soothe Anxiety:  Moralism/Hedonism (maladaptive coping skills) that don't help us in the long run.

People have anxiety because they have insecurity, people compensate by being rigid, because that feels like piety, piety feels like God will like us, soothes our anxiety

“In”-- am i in? What if I'm rejected?  Am I fully loved, accepted, respected by you?

Looking at expectations of pastors in church--how do church members respond when pastors talk about difficult concepts or try to deal with difficult issues in the church?  How do Christians engage with their pastors, and what roles to they expect pastors to fill?  

Susette talks about her experience in shifting her pastors out the expectation of being close friends, or in an intimate relationship, even though the pastor-church goer relationship feels so intimate.

But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. John 6:54

Integrating love into shame is a spiritual discipline, and a neuroscientific process. Inviting God's goodness into the dark thoughts that we have, instead of hiding as a result of the thoughts, can neutralize them.  

Brandon invites us to an exercise: when we're angry, sad, ashamed or embarrassed, or in the darkest thought of hatred, sexual desire, etc, we can state "God, how can you be so good?".  We invite "light" into the "darkness", which neutralizes it.

The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:4-5

This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:5-7

More on: False self vs. True self


Neuron info, with myelin sheath: https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/human-biology/neuron-nervous-system/a/overview-of-neuron-structure-and-function


"One of the signs of maturity is the thought that no longer occurs to you."  --Dallas Willard


Outro music:

Feel Your Love by Still Spoken featuring Soy Maulit


Susette Magana