I’m the first one awake in my household most mornings. I grope my way in the darkness to resurrect myself with a cup of coffee as I curl up in my favorite chair. In the stillness and silence I turn on one soft lamp and then begin to read, pray and mentally prepare for the day. Gradually dawn streams into the room. Once again the light overcomes the darkness and I can see beyond my book to the rest of the room and down the hallway.
For so many years we were lost in our journey amid the darkness of mental illness. There were so many days when we couldn’t see where to turn or how to find our way. At times we felt the darkness would overcome us and we would be swallowed by the uncertainty of it all.
We kept thinking, if we could just turn on the light, we could see the solution. If we could just get out of the darkness, we could fix the problem.
But over the years we began to see—not with the kind of light that illuminates all the answers—but through the brightness of God’s active, loving presence. In the darkness of our confusion His light always exposed the next step on the path. He didn’t bring the full radiance of His presence to show all there was to see, but there was always just enough light to move us forward in the journey. His goodness was revealed over time. His glory was shown in the single spark of hope.
Things are better now for our family. It’s not so dark for us. We understand mental illness better.* Our son continues to do all he can to maintain his stability and regain the meaningful parts of his life. Through the light of knowledge and support we are able to see much farther around us than we could before.
Just as in my early morning routine, when the light of dawn gradually overcomes the darkness in my reading corner, so the light of God’s goodness overcomes the darkness of our confusion and pain.
As we celebrate Christmas, I am reminded of the darkness of our world and the hope we have in the light of Immanuel—God with us. May we trust His love to overcome our darkest places and lead us into the fullness of His grace—through one spark at a time.
Merry Christmas, Catherine
*National Alliance on Mental Illness and Grace Alliance are terrific resources for education and support.
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