Porth Ysgo, N.Wales, April 2013
Some people think I’m brave. “That was a brave thing to do” they say. I’ve heard it lots of times. But what I need you to know is that for all my life I’ve been really scared. Scared that if you knew everything there is to know about me, you might reject me. Scared I’ll be left on my own; scared of the sadness that can suck me down without warning, any time of the day or night; afraid of the fear itself.
There is abuse in my past and sometimes my present. They tell me that’s why I feel like I do.
When the darkness comes I’m all alone and you can’t reach me, even if you try. My world is pointless, formless and empty, the darkness sweeps over. You can say what you like but I can’t hear you above the noise. The subtitles become raging HEADLINES that blot out the hopeful truth. I run and I hide. Hide under the duvet, desiring to board a runaway train. It is bleak here and you are better off without me. My eyes don’t become accustomed to the darkness. I see nothing.
Life has never felt secure. But now I find myself wondering what this feeling is that washes over me in unexpected and ordinary places. I’ve started to notice it, just every now and then. I think it might be contentment. It might be a sense of what it means to be ‘at home.’ Maybe it’s knowing I really belong. Maybe it’s a tiny shard of self-belief breaking into the darkness; a growing experience of resting in my belovedness.
There was a time when in the middle of the darkness, somebody asked,
“What does God say here?”
“You’re lovely even with your scars and nothing is wasted,”
was my immediate reply.
And that’s when we noticed Him; the Spirit of God hovering over the surface of the deep. The moment I talked about The Lover; that was the moment when hope danced in. For even the darkness is not dark to The Lover. He knows what lies in darkness. Here in the darkness, The Lover takes hold of my hand and reveals deep and hidden things. Some of them are beautiful. Some of them are hideous. Though all around is blackness, in the darkness I see how artificial the light was before; I never knew I’d been so blinded.
Maybe these tiny glimmers of hope I feel, will in time grow into something I strongly believe; something that will consume the voices of self doubt.
So this genuine smile you sometimes see escaping my face? It’s a droplet of joy preceded by risk:
The risk to tell a joke that might make you wonder who I really am;
The risk to spin upside down on the climbing frame and giggle with a ten year old;
The risk to laugh and drink lemon juice with a teenager seeing who can take the most without being sick;
The joy of a surprise splash landing in the sunshine;
The risk of adding detergent to speed up the fun.
Yes I will attempt silly and give permission for us to jump free, eat rubbish and enjoy life. I’ll allow us to self regulate. I will attempt to loosen the grip of anxiety fuelled control.
I have wrestled to win this unconditional smile and I will continue to fight for it because too many people have told me I deserve it. They can’t all be wrong can they?
But here comes the darkness chasing me down again and I’m feeling the need to run. But now I cannot hide alone. Now there are people who’ve promised they will run after me faster than I can run away and I have allowed them to make chase. While I cannot see in the dark, they will hold the Christ light for me and bid the darkness away. So I will resist the urge to push them away; I will let them run.
In the darkness, they remind me that The Lover has revealed deep and hidden things. He has opened my eyes; gently lifted the lids that have hung heavy. He says he will take hold of my hand in this darkness.
So my precious torchbearers please will you hold my little girl’s hand too? The child inside of me that’s frightened, sad and lonely. Will you help me run the risk of fearlessly loving without running away? Hold this Christ light for me. Please.
And may your light help me feel confident of this: that The Lover who began this new hope in me will carry it on to completion.
Nothing is Wasted – Jason Gray
“The hurt that broke your heart and left you trembling in the dark feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie but what if every tear you cry will seed the ground where joy will grow
And nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted
…When hope is more than you can bear and it’s too hard to believe it could be true
When your strength fails you half way there, You can lean on me and I’ll believe for you
Give it time, you may believe it too”
Don’t Try So Hard (“You’re lovely even with your scars”) – Amy Grant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfGvXfe9LK8
Brother Sister – Let me serve you
“We are pilgrims on a journey, We’re companions on the road;
we are here to help each otherwalk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh I’ll laugh with you.”
…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.
I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.
He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.