Today I think that I need to tell you what the darkness was like.
Not because you don’t understand, but maybe because you do.
The darkness was realising one day that I had been married for almost two decades and felt nothing for my spouse
The darkness was asking endlessly ‘How did we get here?’ to which there was no answer that changed anything
The darkness was broken marriage vows
The darkness was broken hearts
The darkness was a longing for things I couldn’t have
The darkness was the confusion of finding myself deeply committed to pursuing discipleship of Christ, and yet breaking a fundamental commandment or two ( do not commit adultery, do not covet your neighbour’s husband).
The darkness was being tossed aside like a piece of rubbish
The darkness was the realisation that motherhood and the trials of life had changed me in ways I did not want to be changed.
The darkness was watching my child suffer in pain that couldn’t be alleviated.
The darkness was trying to square the circle.
The darkness was certainty that my marriage would end.
The darkness was the shame I felt because I wanted my marriage to end.
The darkness was feeling that I was on the outside
The darkness was wanting to end my life
The darkness was everywhere
Darkness limits our ability to think, to move, to act, to connect.
It isolates, frightens, diminishes and silences.
It is disorientating and the passing of time doesn’t lessen the confusion.
I was desperate for light. Every day I repeated to myself the promise which I wanted to believe – ‘God is enough’. I felt that I had nothing else. I believed that I was not loved by those I wanted to be loved by. I saw myself consigned to a loveless marriage. I believed I might be in the darkness for ever.The darkness was full of tears, and groans and pain. Sometimes I even scared myself with my own agony, But I never gave up looking for the light switch.
In my search for the light, each day I turned to a celtic book of prayers and readings and I read the bible passages assigned each day.
Then one day I read this:
‘As the rain hides the stars,
as the autumn mist hides the hills,
happenings of my lot
hide the shining of Thy face from me.
Yet, if I may hold Thy hand
in the darkness,
it is enough:
since I know that,
though I may stumble in my going,
Thou dost not fall.’ Alistair MacLean
Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night,” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.… Psalm 139
To God, darkness and light are the same.
He was there in the darkness just as He is in the light.
And as I lay in the darkness I became more aware of His presence than I had ever before been in the life I’d lived in the light. In the good times.
It was as if without the ability to see, my other senses were heightened. I felt Him. I could hear Him when he whispered. I wasn’t trying to go anywhere – I couldn’t – the darkness had me trapped, and so I did nothing but sit in the darkness, straining to feel His nearness. He held my hand.
The darkness is where I have learned the most of God. It is where I have found out who I am. I have emerged from it knowing that God is enough. That darkness and light are the same to Him. That darkness is survivable and definitely not the end. That it will likely come again, and when it does I will know to sit quietly and feel for His outstretched hand.
I’m not afraid of the dark.
I’ve written this account of faith in the dark to share on the day that Addie Zierman releases her book ‘Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark’. I haven’t read it yet, but I will because her previous book resonated so deeply with me. If you want to read more of my own story of faith in darkness here is a good place to start.
Addie has also written one of my favourite descriptions of faith,
“It is not Before and After, a clean split, dark and light. It is gradual illumination, fireflies moving slowly toward you, softening the edge of the darkness”
― Addie Zierman,