Friday, August 07, 2015

Hope in the Darkness



There are times in life where I really wish I could draw or paint. I woke up the other morning with this dream in my head. It was of a large black bird with wings the color of pitch and sharp black talons. Almost like a cross between a crow and an eagle.  This huge bird had in it's claws on my heart. It was perched on my chest and it's weight was tremendous. In the beginning of this dream this bird was clutching my heart and squeezing it hard. I could feel the weight of that black thing crushing my chest and making it hard to breathe, feeling like at any time this creature would succeed in squeezing the very life from me. As I lay there unable to move or breathe, a ray of light, like the kind reflected through a magnifying glass in the hot sun, shot into my chest, striking the talon of this huge creature and causing him to release, just a little, his hold on my heart. This ray of light slowly spread in it's width, covering more and more of my heart as it did so and causing the black bird to lose more and more of it's hold. When I woke up (little girls calling good morning from the hallway) the bird's grasp on my heart had been reduced to just the tip of two talons and the light had overtaken the majority of the places where once there had been pain and darkness. I have been pondering this dream ever since that morning, unsure how to share this and unsure if anyone else would relate. The image of that bright, warm, light overtaking this giant black bird still lingers in my memory though so  I decided I had to share it. Maybe someday I will be able to sketch and/or paint it but for now you will have to picture it in your own mind :)

I had been thinking a lot about darkness and depression and how so many thing in my life are intertwined and I believe that the Lord placed this picture in my head to remind me of His presence. I have been struggling lately with talking to others about the darkness in my life, in particular about the depression I have suffered from since I was a young adult. Yes, depression is something that has been a part of my life for more than half my life at this point. It's darkness invades my heart more often than I would like to admit and most people do not even know that I carry this struggle with me. I do a pretty good job of putting on a happy face when facing the world. But the other day, while hearing about another wonderful friend of mine who also deals with this horrible darkness I couldn't help but relate and wonder if how much she knows that she is not alone. As I have thought about this dream, this image I was left with when I woke the other morning, it occurs to me that that light, that bright stream of hot, white light that caused the dark demon bird to begin to lose it's grip, can be summed up in one word... HOPE You see HOPE is what you don't have when the darkness overcomes you. HOPE is what you've lost when depression rules. HOPE is what you desperately need when the demon of sadness and pain takes hold. HOPE is the one thing that is SO very hard to grasp when all those dark thoughts begin to swirl in your mind. HOPE is that light in the darkness.

So, how do we find hope? How do we focus that beam of light into those dark places? I think it's different for every person. For me, it's prayer. For me, it's Jesus! For me, it's knowing that I am loved and cherished. When I am HOPE-LESS I turn to those things that I know deep in my heart to be true, deeper than the darkness can reach. When my world turns dark and the demon of depression starts to regain his control, I sing, I cook, I create because that demon HATES those things. He HATES new life, new creations. When that darkness starts to invade, I reach out and help someone else. I serve others. I find ways to allow a little light into my world. But the most important thing I do when depression starts to rear it's ugly head is the one thing that is completely counter to what it wants me to do... I do NOT back down! Depression can be a seemingly endless pit of darkness and despair. It can feel like the heaviest, darkest wool blanket you have ever felt. It reminds me of the times when you go to the dentist office and they put that lead apron on you? You know that heavy, weighted feeling? THAT, times 10, times 100 would be depression.

I'm writing this today because I cannot get that image out of my head. I'm writing this today for all those out there who may read this and relate. I'm writing this today for my very sweet friend who is struggling with this demon of depression. Sister, you are NOT alone. Reach out, reach up, reach in and allow even just a small crack of hope to leak into your darkness. You'll be amazed how quickly it can spread and break that overwhelming blackness from your heart. And above all, do not be ashamed to share your pain with others. By sharing your pain you lighten your burden. By sharing your struggles you encourage others. You have encouraged me more than you will ever know. I love you and will continue to pray for you and for all those who walk this road with us!