This last spring I found myself busy teaching a teen early morning bible study class and working on a grief website. Both have been worthwhile endeavors, but I found myself feeling very isolated. A dark cloud seemed to settle on me. I kept working, kept pushing forward, but the darkness seemed so oppressive that I found myself often breaking down in tears. I felt myself withdraw in self-protection mode. I knew that I needed to reach out, but I was struggling so much, that I was afraid that I didn't have anything worthwhile to share or that if I tried, I would only end up in a puddle of tears. Fear was paralyzingly me.
How could I help others when I couldn't help myself?
I felt like a hypocrite.
The only light I could see was a distant hope that things would be easier when my oldest son returned from his mission. I held onto that hope and looked to that distant light.
This summer there was a parting of the clouds when Alex came home, but as his departure time for college approached, I began to fear another difficult oppressive year. I knew that I had a lot of work to do to finish my grief website. So many hours and resources had been expended to do this service project, and I began to doubt my ability to finish it. I worried that my negative emotional state would return and be detrimental to my teaching and to my parenting. I feared being alone again.
The more I feared, the more paralyzed I became and the more the dark clouds began to surround me. One evening while walking, I got into an argument with Alex... He went inside and I continued to walk in the dark.
It wasn't just dark outside, I felt it everywhere inside of me. It consumed me, and I'm honestly glad that no one could hear the voices in my head. I was sobbing when my son pulled up in his car and opened the passenger door. He told me to get in. Desperately wanting to escape the way I was feeling, I climbed in and began to sob.
It amazes me the strength that my children have at times, and how wisdom comes to them that is beyond their years. I heard my husband's voice in his counsel and I know he was directed by the spirit to understand my feelings. We prayed together and through his words I felt the light again. It renewed my focus.
I'm keeping my eyes on that light and I am feeling a renewal of strength. Ideas are flowing again, the crippling feelings of loneliness have abated, and I can see the direction I need to move. The fear is gone now that I am moving forward with FAITH.
I heard a story in a talk given by Whitney Clayton about a little girl who was the sole survivor of a plane crash with her family.
"Last January, seven-year-old Sailor Gutzler and her family were flying from Florida to Illinois in a private airplane. Sailor’s father was at the controls. Just after nightfall, the aircraft developed mechanical problems and crashed in the pitch-dark hills of Kentucky, upside down in very rough terrain. Everyone but Sailor died in the accident. Her wrist was broken in the crash. She suffered cuts and scrapes and had lost her shoes. The temperature was 38 degrees Fahrenheit -it was a cold, rainy Kentucky winter’s night--and Sailor was wearing only shorts, a T-shirt, and one sock.
She cried out for her mother and father, but no one answered. Summoning every ounce of courage, she set off barefoot across the countryside in search of help, wading through creeks, crossing ditches, and braving blackberry briars. From the top of one small hill, Sailor spotted a light in the distance, about a mile away. Stumbling through the darkness and brush toward that light, she eventually arrived at the home of a kind man she had never met before who sprang to her care. Sailor was safe. She would soon be taken to a hospital and helped on her way to recovery.
Sailor survived because she saw a light in the distance and fought her way to it--notwithstanding the wild countryside, the depth of the tragedy she faced, and the injuries she had sustained. It is hard to imagine how Sailor managed to do what she did that night. But what we do know is that she recognized in the light of that distant house a chance for rescue. There was hope. She took courage in the fact that no matter how bad things were, her rescue would be found in that light."
I was struck by Sailor's faith as she moved through the dark that night. Certainly the light disappeared as she went down hills and trees obscured her view. Yet she chose to move in the direction she had last seen the light. She chose to have faith that it was still there.
There have been periods for me when that light has been obscured. It's easy to become afraid and discouraged when you can't see the hope of a distant light. Some times I have stopped walking and I have sunk to the forest floor to cry, but it was only when I decided to move forward in faith that the light came back into view.
For me that light is my Savior, Jesus Christ.
When I choose to trust Him,
walk in obedience to the truth He taught,
and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit,
then the light comes back into view,
and it fills me with hope and the power to keep walking.
A teacher told of being caught in the worst snow storm she had ever seen. The road she was on was narrow and had no shoulder on which to pull over. She could not see very well and knew the cars behind her were dealing with the same situation. If she stopped, she knew they would not see her in time, so she kept creeping along. The only thing that gave her hope when she looked up ahead was a small, far off, distant patch of blue sky. A spot in the heavens, where the clouds had parted, gave her a clear view of blue. She realized that if she kept driving eventually she would make it out of the storm.
Somedays we get glimps of that blue sky and then the clouds may crowd over the light again. We have to remember that we saw the blue sky and it is still there, just obscured. As we keep moving forward in faith, we are gradually creeping out of that storm. When we remember there is always blue sky above the storm clouds, then we can find the strength to just keep going.
"In those moments, however dark or seemingly hopeless they may be, if we search for it, there will always be a spiritual light that beckons to us, giving us the hope of rescue and relief. That light shines from the Savior of all mankind, who is the Light of the World."- Clayton
Remembering that the light is there and knowing the source of the light gives me the strength and courage to move forward in faith despite my fears.