I have always wanted to name things. Friends laugh at how quickly I diagnose public personalities, and how hyper-aware I am of my own inner-workings. I name, I judge, I scramble to come up with the answer inside myself to try to face what I need to face. Seeing and speaking also flow from me, when I remember that the Spirit is running the show, in a way that blesses clients and friends in lonely and confused places.
It’s a gift that saw me through a lot of confusion growing up. I struggled a lot as I watched a parent I loved sink into a cycle of mental illness. I had no categories for the pain, so I studied. I honed my skill of seeing and naming as I felt I was the only one who could see the way people I loved were falling down. My naming felt like my only power and the best I had to offer. Somehow naming made me feel like I could predict. My sight and my words put me in my head, hunkered down and waiting for the enemy. Not living and waiting for the rescuer. I was crouched, and I wasn’t moving.
What I didn’t know, there in the dark, was that I did not have to know how to navigate anyone else’s madness. I did not have to be able to predict their next steps, or their falling down. I did not have to scan the horizon for more pain. I did not have to offer what I thought was enjoyable about me. I only had to reach up and be helped forward and steadied by a trustworthy hand. God has taught me, strengthened me, and provided for me as He has led me through the dark more than once. But mostly, He has just enjoyed me. He has enjoyed me without my wisdom, insight, and words. Sometimes this grace leaves me angry because I know I cannot control its flow. And sometimes it does not feel like enough. Every once in a while, I venture to believe that His enjoyment of me is all I need to be safe in the dark.
My friend sitting in the dark – there is no darkness so deep that the lamp He has lit in you will snuff out. He comes to tenderly light the way, and to lead you toward the light from whatever your darkness has been. And His light is bigger and more true than any darkness you will face.
Meredith joined The Barnabas Center staff in January 2009, upon completing her Masters in Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and her Bachelors in Religion and Psychology from Furman University. She counsels, leads women’s groups and teaches a seminar called “Hope in the Darkness” for those walking with individuals suffering from depression or bipolar disorder. Meredith, her husband Jon, and daughter Charlotte live in Fort Mill, SC.
Thank you for these hope-filled words. They remind me of one of my favorite verses – Isaiah 42:3, “A bruised reed He will not break and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.” Sweet promise to cling to.
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