1990- 10 years old
My eyes snap open, and I see nothing. I see darkness, a black inky storm. My heart begins to pound, and my shoulders tense up. My eyes dart around the room seeing monsters of shadow sliding across my bedroom floor. Is that my breathing or is there something else in the room? My eyes hunt around, desperate for focus. I look up to the ceiling. There is my savior. All I have to do is reach up and click the little switch over. Deep breath. I stand up quickly, flick the switch, and fall back into bed with my eyes tightly closed.
Slowly, I open one eye and then the other. With the warm glow that now fills my bedroom, the tightness in my chest released. Gone are the shadow creatures as my dresser returns. Rows of sweaters hang from my closet and are no longer grasping for my soul. Deep breath in and out.
My dad and I did this dance every night. I refused to even go into my bedroom without my nightlight on. Tiny little plastic covered savior. He did not think the light was necessary. He swore that you would not sleep right if there was light in the room. “Your brain needs to know that it is night, and it is time to sleep.” Maybe his brain needed to know that, but my childhood brain wanted no part of this relaxing darkness he spoke of. My brain needed the light.
Every night I would go to bed with the light on, and at some point he would come up stairs and quietly click it off. Not long after I would wake up and turn it on. Fall asleep and repeat the process until the sun comes up. Click- click. Click-click. I got my stubborn streak from my dad. He and I would both hold out until the end of time if we thought we were right about something.
I thought of that little nightlight as I was reading a scripture in the Bible that stuck out to me. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome (understood) it.” John 1:5 Another translation says the darkness “could not put it out.” The light in this case being Jesus, the Savior.
I feel like as long as the light- Jesus- is on- walking with me- I see things differently. No longer am I scared of the shadows of things that are not really there. No longer can I be tormented by what ifs and things unseen. With the light on, I can see the truth. The truth is, I have nothing to be afraid of in the dark. Greater is He who is in me that he who is in the world.
As long as my light is on, I see things for how they really are. I have been a public school teacher for over 10 years. One of the main things that I have learned is to not always look into the darkness without your light on. Some children carry a lot of darkness on their little shoulders. Pain, fear, abuse, sickness, confusion, and more. Without the light, I can perceive these situations in very different ways. I can be upset and be drug into the darkness myself, or I can turn on the light and see what is real. The light beats back the darkness so we can see the truth.
He isn’t really mad at me or his math. He is mad at his situation that has caused a never ending cycle of fear and abandonment. She isn’t sobbing because she doesn’t want to get in line. She cries because she feels something was taken from her that she has no power to bring back. When I see what is really happening, I can respond with compassion, guidance, and hope.
I also live in an area where drug use is rampant. Here the verse of the enemy wanting to “kill, steal, and destroy” is not metaphorical. I understand the pain and the devastation this causes. Again, if I turn on the light, I see things a little differently. I see people self-medicating for anxiety and depression. I see people trying to numb the pain of their past and the vision of their desolate future. I see people who have been overrun with a chemical dependency that is causing them to destroy and ostracize the very people who reach out to them. People making devastatingly hurtful decisions for both themselves and those that love them in order to escape the pain.
Such a fine line to walk. I love you, but I will not let you continue on this way. I see the darkness you are immersed in, but I will not sit there with you. I will turn on the light. I will speak the truth. I will love you as the Father loves you, stand with you, but not crawl through the dirt with you. I love you too much to not turn on the light.
Sometimes we do have to let go. But the light helps. It helps us to see what is real and what is not. It helps to talk it out with our Savior to know when I should step in and when I need to step back or out.
I need the Light. I need to be able to see what is real and what is not. I need the light to release my fear and soften my heart. “4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (the darkest valley), I will fear no evil: for you are with me.” Psalm 23:4 I do not have to fear the terror of night (Psalm 91:5) because the Light is with me. When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Never will I fear the darkness.
John 12:35-37 NIV
35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”
When Jesus Shows up He changes everything