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Look for the lights…

As we pulled onto the main road in the town where my mother-in-law lives, we saw a house lit up with Christmas lights. Our three year-old daughter exclaimed, “Lights!” She gleefully clapped her hands and asked for more ‘happy lights’. Since it was Thanksgiving weekend, when most people begin to decorate for the holidays, my husband and I decided to drive around the small town in search of more light displays.

The town, however, was silent and dark.

We continued to drive and even made a game out of who would spot lights first, yet no displays were to be found. A little sigh of resignation was heard from the back of the van and a quiet disclaimer of, “no more lights.” I turned to see my daughter slumped in her car seat and looking disturbed about the lack of happy lights in that town.

It reminded me of what traveling through the dark tunnels of my life have been like.

The light has disappeared a few times along my own journey and I found myself stuck in a deep, dark tunnel with absolutely no perception of the proverbial light at the end of it. I would frantically feel along the cold walls of despair searching for a way out, unable to see what is in front of me or even behind me. I slipped further into the tunnel and got lost in a deep, dark place I couldn’t even see.

And, I almost didn’t make it out of there.

The only sound that kept me company in the dark was the liturgy in my mind convincing me that my worth and value had bled out and gone completely dry. I was a burden, a waste, and there was never going to be any hope for someone like me, that girl who kept getting lost in a maze of symptoms from post-traumatic stress, depression, and anxiety. ‘That girl’ tried to kill herself a few times down in that deep, dark cave and was very nearly successful.

I tried to stuff those painful memories of the darkness down as I reached over to grab my husband’s hand and say, “I don’t think we will find any happy lights tonight.”

My heart felt heavy as the memories of the deep, dark cave began to prance themselves around my mind. I thought of all the empty days, months, and years that were spent merely trying to survive the day and white-knuckling the task of even getting out of bed. I began to see all those nights I spent sobbing on the bathroom floor and reaching out my hand in the darkness with the hopes of feeling a hand reaching back. I could hear words like “crazy”, “selfish”, and “drama queen” bouncing around like the sound of a ball on a racquetball court. I knew those words and heard them coming at me in the voice of others. If only others actually knew or even tried to understand.

The sound of my daughter gasping snapped me out of the melancholia as the twinkling of happy lights caught my attention. There they were, wrapped around a tiny tree in someone’s front yard. That small Christmas tree stood alone, lighting up an otherwise very dark road. Suddenly our van was full of happy squeals as our daughter gasped and pointed at the tree. Our 9 month old son even began to babble happily. My husband slowed the van and paused enough to look over at me and smile.

There was a time I was lost in a tunnel with no perception of the light. There was a time my life didn’t include the happy squeals and babbles of small children or the handsome blue eyes of a man who looked at me with such love. There was a time when all I could hear was the sound of my own hopeless echoing in a tunnel I thought I would never escape.

But, I made it out. I survived.

And, like that small tree proudly displaying a string of lights in the dark, I am sharing my journey to let someone else know that they will be okay.

I am shining my small string of lights at the end of someone’s long, dark tunnel to say, “You are going to make it out. Just keep looking for the lights.”

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This post also appeared on The Mighty as For the Person Who Can No Longer See the Light

93 thoughts on “Look for the lights…”

      1. Yes, you’ve got to be sure it is time! Because, even when you feel okay about sharing, there is always that sensation of feeling ‘exposed’ and ‘vulnerable’ and it can be a little difficult to wrestle with. Take your time! Also, I keep trying to get to your blog but I lose everyone in my feed. Your profile link isn’t working for me! Sad faces!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hii, I did change my new user name to mixed and modest like a week or 2 ago, but the Web address to my page is still mixedandmodestchic.wordpress.com
        Hopefully this helps, I’m not sure of how to copy and paste the url to my page.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. I just got my first prints and I cried. The quality is nice. My words spread out for another, like a life jacket; Jesus glorified with each letter. Thank you for the seed, Rev. Something you said made an impact. God is so good.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Matthew 5:14-16
    β€œYou are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

    Thanks for calling my eyes handsome. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am so thankful you made it out, did not succeed in your attempts to take your life and that you share the hope that is found in Jesus. I’ve come to the point where I’m realizing people love to try to put me back in the tunnels. Unfortunately, it still works as I’m coming to terms with my past with people still present from those dark, dark years.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Psalm 46:1 ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’ I have been moved to tears over the Psalms tonight. Also, Psalm 37:12-13 ‘The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming.”

      That is a very serious statement right there. The Lord does not take it lightly when we suffer at the hands of others. May His peace and comfort overwhelm you even right now.

      Liked by 1 person

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  4. Beautiful post. I, too, have been in the grip of the one who throws my sin up in my face but I have to remember that I am in the Hand of the One Who paid the price for that sin and Who Loves me with an eternal love. Your post is a poignant reminder that “happy lights” can be found anywhere as long as we have our eyes on Jesus. Thanks so much for your writing and willingness to share your life story. Thanks too for liking The Ruminant Scribe, i do so appreciate that you stopped by and read both parts of Silent Night. Blessings to you and your family this Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your little girls hunger for the lights is a poignant picture of how it feels to be trapped in the tunnel of depression, self-defeat, hopelessness, confusion, disorientation and in deep fear. Yes, I’ve been in that dark tunnel too. Jesus is the light and it is to Him we owe everything. “He called us out of darkness, and into His wonderful light.” I Peter 2:9 God surely preserved your life and He is using your testimony to bring hope to those who feel hopeless. Blessings from our Father JD. Thanks for this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad you are not in that tunnel any longer!! I learn so much from my children everyday. My husband and I frequently discuss what we look and sound like to God as we deal with tantrums and developmental stages with our own kids! But, look at how much we love our children in the midst of that. And, when I do bedtime and my daughter just wants me to lay for a while so she can snuggle…no words. I imagine how God feels about us is more intense than anything we could comprehend. He loves us in the storms and He delights when we want Him near for ‘snuggles’! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh JD, your words are so beautiful! There are no words for a child’s heart that reaches out to us … merely human … to snuggle and soak in the security of our love. Yet, we both know God’s love for us is greater than anything we could grasp. How great is the Father’s love that we should be called t<3he children of God.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. That was beautiful. I don’t think it was by coincidence that I happened to read your article right after retreat but it’s really inspired me. It is truly a testimony to God’s existence in our world and I pray you continue to write more like this for the sake of others. I thought this was really brilliant. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You have a gift of writing and a story to share. Sometimes we only realize the gifts we have been given when they have been taken away; so we must always remember from Whom we’ve received these gifts, and to appreciate what has been given us.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. OMG! JD I know I’ve already read this, so I’m not sure what brought me here again today, but I’m glad I came because somehow your post validates the post I wrote today about – wait for it… ‘tunnels’, ‘way out’ giving hope’. OMG!!!!!
    This is still a beautiful post on the second reading.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You got it JD! Of course He watches over what we write and if it is uplifting, He tells us to connect and see what others have written and how He concurs! I shall stop being ‘surprised’ as you correctly suggest! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

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