Saturday, November 2, 2013

Scared of the Dim



I was always scared of the dark.

I remember as a girl growing up in that rambling farmhouse in Malbis, Alabama, there was a night that my parents went out, leaving my eldest sister, Theresa, in charge.  (My younger sister, Liz, would often say to her, "You're not the charge around here!"  But that night, she was.)  Mama and Daddy rarely went anywhere for the evening, so this was a special circumstance.  In retrospect, my 45 year old self looks back with compassion on that poor 13 year old sister who was left to manage four younger siblings, all of whom were sassy, loud and stubborn.  In other words, Irish-Italian.

I'm sure Theresa was just done.  Ready for the house to settle down and get quiet.  Maybe she had homework to do.  Or a boy to daydream about.  But whatever the reason, she refused to come up the stairs - the dark, foreboding stairs - to get me into bed.  Fresh out of a bath, black curls wet and in tangles around my shoulders, shivering in my pink nightgown with the lace overlay, I stood at the head of the stairs, crying for her to come up.  I was making quite a ruckus already, the overhead light yet illuminated.  So you can imagine what happened when she reached out for the light switch, at the foot of the stairs next to her right hand...
and clicked me into the darkness
Into the darkness with the creaky wooden floors and farm goblins and potential burglars. 
Into the darkness that held my childish fears.

I FREAKED OUT.

I fell to my knees sobbing and pleading and screaming and...well, "temper tantrum" was probably how it would be later described. 
Looking back on that anxious 5 year old,
I know the darkness held the fears of a child unsure
Of a child with a vivid imagination and not enough calm.
Of a child who didn't like change.

Nothing much altered those fears as I grew older.  Living by myself for awhile, I often slept with a "weapon" by my bed.  (You know, scissors, bread knife, candlestick...even matches against a threatening intruder, of course.)  Even into my married years, I could never sleep whenever Drew travelled.  It didn't matter if I had lights on or fell asleep to a TV show, I would inevitably awaken in the night and be up for hours, imagining the worst, those childish fears haunting my adulthood.

What a waste.

I'm no longer afraid when it's dark. 
Everything changed a few years ago when I came to realize that I'm not in charge. 
Of anything.
"I'm not the charge around here!"
He is.
He protects me when I'm weak. 
He comforts me when I'm afraid. 
Why worry about what may happen? 
He'll be there through it all.

I was ruminating over this change of heart this morning as I was doing the dishes, feeling a bit anxious.  I was thinking of how I have been disconnected lately from Him.   And as I pondered the reasons why, I realized, "I'm no longer scared of the dark..."

"I'm scared of the dim."

You know?

It's easy to feel Him beside me when I'm happy...elated...joyful...obviously and abundantly blessed...ignited from the inside with the light of His glory.
It's easy to feel Him beside me when I'm scared and alone...dependent...insecure...lonely...necessarily leaning on Him to carry me out of the darkness.
So He's there in the light.
And He's there in the dark.

But in the dim?  Well, I forget to search for Him there.

When things are just "normal"...
When there's laundry to do and dinner to be made.
When I'm not feeling awful but not feeling great.
When we need a new plumbing mainline and the property taxes are due...
When the kids are settled  into their school routine and the marriage is "fine" and status quo has been reached and it's not bright and it's not black...
But it's hazy. 
And I cannot see clearly ahead. 
And His outline is not blazing and not obscure but faint.

It's there that I'm scared now. 
 
Because I forget to reach out. 
To trace His very faintness with my fingers and KNOW
He's there through it all.
Not just in the dark.
Not just in the bright.
He is there in the dim.
In the shadows and the indistinct...
In the vagueness of living and normal light of day....
He's there.
He's still carrying me.
Yes, I need only reach out and click myself out of the dim back into the burning light of His grace.
 



Photo credit:  Eduardo de Sao Paulo, Flickr


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