I slept with my closet light on for years and years and years. Even after I was married, I still kept that light on. For whatever reason, sleep eluded me when my room was dark. I created all sorts of shapes out of shadows, and imagined intruders lurking in every corner. At some point, I stopped needing that light. I was peaceful and relaxed. And exhausted….we had adopted two kids two weeks apart from each other. One was a 1-year-old that was navigating steps on her own, and the other was a newborn. The root cause of my fears of the dark are unknown to me. I never suffered any traumatizing event in the dark, but I was always afraid. Now other shapes, shadows and intruders lurk in my mind to make me fearful.
I am afraid of the unknown: of never knowing why, of never knowing “what if,” of hearing “Never again” as an answer to my questions. I am afraid more tangible things: of being lonely and alone, surrounded by too many cats and dogs as I grow old, of eating nothing but casseroles and living to watch Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune every night, and of children shrieking in fear when they see me shuffle out to pick up the paper in my slippers, bathrobe, hair curlers and unplucked facial hair.
Mostly, however, I am afraid of what I see. I am afraid to see couples holding hands, sharing a tender moment, laughing together, having dinner together, sharing stories together, traveling together, simply being together. I watch from afar and I am utterly terrified that I will never know those things again.
I began reading a couple of quick, daily devotionals and yesterday and today, they all pointed to one thing: Thankfulness.
Each devotional pointed out verses, written by an author in great suffering, whether physical or emotional, and in each one, the author is reminded and reminds the reader that without thankfulness, nothing will improve. One devotional even suggested that the more I make being thankful a part of my daily thought process, the more radical the changes I will witness in my life.
Radical? I think my life is radical enough as it currently stands. Am I ready for it to be even more radical? The Bible clearly tells me over and over and over to trust and be thankful.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7).
Lots of things jump out here at me…but in shapes and words that are clear and comforting–not frightening and unknown. God promises peace, peace no one can ever understand; God promises to guard my heart and mind–nothing will get past him and lurk in the shadows; God asks for prayer (communication) and thanksgiving in return. How hard is it to say “thank you?”
So much is happening in my life right now, besides my own personal growth journey. My kids struggle with becoming adults in ways I never dreamed or planned for them. My financial security is rocky on a good day. My parents’ health is beginning to fail. Life just keeps getting scarier and scarier. But I must remember God is there, guarding my heart. He’s got my back. He’s watching out for me. He’s never gonna walk away, distracted by someone else’s drama (isn’t mine enough for anyone?). He’s watching over me. I no longer have to be afraid.
My sleeping pattern has come 180 degrees: I now sleep with an eye mask on every single night. I can’t sleep at all if it’s not totally pitch black.
I’m not afraid of the dark anymore.