Sitting in the dark, a hot little forehead pressed against my chest, I watch the clock display the passing minutes. It is early, early in the morning and little Zachary has barely slept. He's comfortable now, so I plan to stay right where I am, snuggled on the couch under an afghan, listening to the sounds of our home. His breathing is calm and deep, as is mine. I don't mind the dark. It clothes me thickly and allows me to embrace thoughts I may push out of my mind in the lighter hours of the day. Busyness has no hold on me in the darkness.
Memories of the past year travel lazily through my mind. It seems far away now, but at the time my depression suffocated me and erased any possibility of future happiness. Darkness swept over me and my soul hurt with the weight of it. Looking back, from this physical darkness that feels so much more peaceful, I realize that I was pulled unknowingly through that time by a thread of hope deeper than my own consciousness. I didn't know if God was there. God is light; I was in darkness. How could I reconcile those opposites?
I tried to quote scripture to myself in those dark days. It sounded hollow to my ears, to my spirit, too. So many saints had been through darkness and didn't lose faith, why was I floundering?
The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
The baby stirs on my chest, sniffles, and settles again, his weight hot and damp. I reflect on the gift that he is, though bearing him and living through his first months resulted in my spiritual valley. I feel grateful, yet aware that I had just passed through a season of complete ungratefulness, and whisper a prayer to thank God for the darkness I experienced. That depression, a common occurrence in our world, but unique in my life, had birthed renewed appreciation for the light that is God's presence. I wished I had thanked God in the midst of it, if not for it, following Job's example...
"You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept
good from God, and not trouble?"
I carefully rise from the couch, cradling Zachary's little head. His binky slips out of his mouth without incident, proving the deepness of his sleep. I realize as I begin to step toward the stairs that there is a soft, almost imperceptible glow in the room, a precursor to the dawn. I hadn't noticed the light before, but the darkness is no longer quite as heavy. I smile to myself, realizing that my depression had faded just as quietly, in tiny increments, bringing dawn in on tiptoe, until I could once more see the steps ahead of me.
I place the sleeping baby in his crib and head to my own room for an hour, perhaps two, of sleep. No matter. It has been a time of reflecting, of learning, of accepting the lessons brought by the darkness. Sleep comes peacefully, tenderly, and is welcomed.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze...
Do not be afraid
for I am with you...
- How have the valleys in your life shaped your view of God? Your sense of gratitude?
- Are you able to see God in the "darkness", or does it take time and hindsight to learn what God is trying to teach you?
- What can you tell yourself in future dark times that will remind you that the light will come and you one day will be able to see God in your circumstances? Write yourself a note now to keep for when that time comes.