I used to be afraid of the dark

Like most children, going to bed use to be the worst time of day for me as a little girl because the lights were turned out and I had to almost close my door for my parents requirement. As a six or seven year old,  I can remember sneaking out of bed to sit in that little sliver of light coming from the hallway and sometimes falling asleep with my head on the door jamb. If I stayed in bed, debilitating anxiety would freeze my limbs. I could feel my heart trying to jump out of my chest as my fear would choke out in silent screams. I remember being so scared for night after night at the monsters under my bed and the shadows of demons in the corner. I would lie in bed terrorized by my own mind enlarging my bedroom walls around me while I lie shrinking and suffocating in my sheets not being able to breathe. 

Sometime in college that thankfully changed and like most things about me I went to the extreme. I craved the darkness to sleep. In fact, once again I could not sleep if it was not pitch black dark. I needed the cave like night blocking out all lights including the slight glow of an alarm clock or a random tiny red light on a tv or stereo. I regularly created the diva look of sleeping masks to make sure to limit any errant light sneaking into the few hours of sleep my mind and body would allow. 

These days I still seek the solace of dark. I regularly escape to the darkness of the movie theater. I love sitting on the couch late at night or early in the morning with no lights on and only the natural light outside barely sneaking in. Running at night, showering with the lights turned off, resting in a darkened room now bring peace to me rather than terror. 

On Wednesday I was running late to the student led worship time at my church. I dashed in as the lights were off of the crowd. Since I was late at usual I squeezed into one of the only remaining seats towards the middle of the crowd. For some reason I was acutely aware of being late and being the tallest person in the row, both of which are standard life for me. Despite the darkness I felt like the spotlight was on me. I felt rattled by the self absorption. As I took a big breath to settle into the experience and try to dismiss the unsettled feelings I had allowed to descend on me I turned my attention to the incredible music led by the student worship leaders. When I focused on the moment, on the true purpose of the evening, mentally I was able to turn the spotlight off and just live in the moment. I felt as God was telling me “It is good you are here with Me.”  It felt like He and I were the only ones there in the darkened student center. Once again the darkness was welcoming for me. I could relax in the dark because no one could even see me communing with God. The darkness allowed me to worship God fully without worrying about being a distraction to other people. Despite being in a room full of teenagers and other adults the darkness allowed me to breathe deeply and recenter my focus on God. 

There are a lot of analogies in Christianity of the world being in darkness and Christ being the only true light and I don’t argue with that. However, sometimes the darkness can help block out all those distractions that would pull us away, that would cause us to see ourselves too much or to spotlight things in our life that just need to done away with. God created the light and the dark both of equal value. When we can’t see through the darkness, God can. God can use the dark reality of blindness to provide vision. God can use the darkness to bring peace and tranquility during adversity. From a little girl who was afraid of the dark to now a woman who craves the dark, I can speak of the revelations that come from the dark. 

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence,

and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.

-Helen Keller

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