Light is a necessity in my life. I am like a sunflower, face turned upward, soaking up the light and heat. I love my house because of the huge windows that let the light pour in. The light from my kitchen window, above, greets me in the mornings as I rise to make coffee... early light of day beginning to filter through.
My life has not always been filled with light. There have been times of darkness....emotional, mental, and spiritual darkness...darkness that sometimes threatened to overshadow the light. And during these times of darkness, I had to rely on a different type of Light....the Light of the world:
" 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
The darkness started in my teen years, when I first started experiencing the symptoms of Depression. But back then, there weren't commercials with checklists of symptoms. I didn't understand it or have a name for it so I basically struggled through it. My solution when it would come was to try to run from it, sometimes physically, sometimes emotionally. Although I had a couple of "clinical" bouts with depression throughout my late teen years and early 20's, the Light delivered me safely on the other side .
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." John 1:5
I had learned to recognize the triggers and warning signs by the time I was in my 20's, through good Christian counsel and the prayers of my brothers and sisters of faith. I had Scripture that I held close to my heart and spoke it into my life often. I learned how to turn my thoughts and focus in other directions. But, when I was 26, another life circumstance sent me into a hormonal whirly-dervish and I experienced one of the darkest years of my life. This event was having a child......
What is supposed to be a joyous and exciting time in most lives was not for me. I anticipated with joy and happiness the arrival of my son and he was very much wanted and very much loved, in the womb and afterwards. But what was usually just a couple weeks of baby blues for some, turned into a year of Post-partum Depression for me. I have never experienced the power of hormones so much in my life as during that time, where I felt completely out of control of my emotions and thoughts. It was actually something I could feel physically.......
My son, Sir Laughsalot, was a Christmas baby, and born during a particularly harsh, bitter, and long winter. We were living in my husband's hometown and I didn't know very many people, other than my former co-workers. My husband was working long hours, leaving around 7 A.M. and sometimes not returning home until 8 or 9 p.m....and we were living in a small house that received very little natural light. This was topped off with Sir Laughsalot getting Bronchiolitis and having to have a nebulizer every night when he was only 2 weeks old, his nursing mommy getting a case of very painful mastitis, and being surrounded by anxious and negative voices. The extreme isolation and bone-numbing exhaustion paired with no help, encouragement, or support is what I believe pro-longed my depression.
That period, what I consider my darkest days, is when I depended on Light the most. I remember every afternoon, around 4 p.m., I would feel a tangible darkness that came with the onset of dusk. As the light faded from the sky, I would feel a physical oppression come over me. I would go around the house and turn every single light on until my husband arrived home. It was so strange to me and I couldn't escape it. I hated how it felt....it was ominous. We had a wonderful CD by Twila Paris called "Bedtime Prayers: lullabies and peaceful worship" that I would play and, to this day, I still remember the lyrics to one song in particular....they helped me get through my evenings and long nights. I'd sing them in my head at night when I would nurse and when I was so exhausted and anxious that I couldn't sleep:
"Do not be afraid little lamb, Trust Him while you are sleeping.
Angels over your cradle will stand, Silent watch they are keeping.
Think about these things, And love will guide your dreams.
And He will keep you in perfect peace...perfect peace....perfect peace
He will keep you in perfect peace, If you keep your mind on Him.
You are never alone little lamb, For the Father is near you.
You are tenderly held in His hand, Whisper and He will hear you.
Think about these things and love will guide your dreams........"
And my heavenly Father WAS with me all through that time..... he knew how much I could bear and didn't allow the darkness to consume me. Sir Laughsalot was a wonderful baby, happy and content...he nursed well, and slept well......and my husband went out of his way to help when he was home. I think God knew that having a colicky baby or an unsupportive husband would have been too much to bear on top of the depression. I cried out to God over and over during this time and He heard my cry. Towards the end of that year, I started to see the light again...He began to bring optimistic, encouraging, and supportive voices into my life. He surrounded me with an incredible, loving church family. He led us to a wonderful house and neighborhood. He brought me safely to the other side.....
"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16
I am a sunflower, face turned upward, basking in the Light, love, and grace of my Redeemer....the One who replaced my spirit of despair with a garment of praise, who turned my ashes into beauty, and who brought Joy in the morning........