5 ways to embrace darkness in your life

What do you do when you feel like you’re going through a dark time in your life? And it just keeps going. Like you’re in a tunnel with no end in sight. I feel like I’ve been in this stage for over a year now. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m ever coming out of it. Like I’m walking through the fog, only able to see part of the path in front of me – not knowing where it will lead, but blindly proceeding onward anyway.

 

Into the unknown
Into the unknown

 

On Sunday, the pastor at my church was saying he was sensing some of us have been oppressed by the enemy for a long time. Yeah. Sounds about right…

The thing is, at some point last summer, I felt like God was telling me he was going to restore me. But oddly, it was at a point where things looked like they were going in the right direction anyway. It didn’t make sense. Things didn’t keep heading in the right direction for me to recover financially, but they had started. Now, I find myself wondering if he was referring instead to my mother and the cancer we did not yet know about that was about to be revealed. And if not, could I trade my promise and apply it to her? Which lead me to my first point.

Bargaining: My bargaining goes somewhere along these lines.So, God, not sure where that restoring is that you promised me last summer, but could we please take that word and apply it to my mom’s cancer? It’s more important. I’ll live below the poverty level for the rest of my life if you can just restore my mom instead.’ 

 

Another nut, please.
Another nut, please.

 

Like living below the poverty level for the rest of my days on planet earth sounds fun. So then I bargain some more. ‘But you can restore my mom’s health and me as well. Because really I’m not going to feel restored if her cancer gets worse and I’m doing better financially. Taking her cancer away is a part of restoring me, so really, could you restore both me and my mom? Let’s apply that word ‘restore’ to all aspects of my life.’ Like, you know, why not go big or not at all?

I keep running into this verse lately: Hebrews 4:16 “Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” So I’m approaching the throne of grace with confidence. I’m holding Him to his promises and making sure I bargain for Mamacita’s life as well. Hopefully I don’t look like Mr. Chipmunk here. With his cheeks stuffed full of nuts but still begging for more…

 

Ain't too proud to beg
Ain’t too proud to beg

 

Let Go and Let God: I feel like I keep playing certain songs over and over again. The main one I’m stuck on lately is Thy Will by Hillary Scott and The Scott Family. I’m not sure if it really makes me feel any better as it’s basically saying Thy Will be Done when really what I want is my will to be done. But it helps me to let go and let God. And that’s important. Maybe I feel like on the one hand, God is telling me to approach the throne of grace with confidence, but on the other hand as this song says: Sometimes I’ve gotta stop, remember that You’re God and I am not… Woah. That’s a hard one when you’ve got a loved one fighting cancer. Like, just kick this cancer to the curb already!

 

Letting go...
Letting go…

 

Listen to music that makes you feel good: A couple of days ago, the song What a Feeling by Irene Cara from the movie Flashdance was going through my head. So I played that one over and over. Finally had to stop playing it because it’s a pretty upbeat song and I didn’t want to re-hurt my tailbone which is feeling way better and on the mend right now, but needs more time to be fully healed.

The next day my mom and I were heading down to OHSU to meet with her doctor and then do her chemo. I was worried that the news from her latest cat scan would be be bad. It wasn’t good news last time. Since she started on the new trial through OHSU, they keep having to take her off the new trial drug she’s on because of dangerously high levels of GGT levels in her liver. She’d been off the pills for a week before getting the cat scan. Her weight is down – not a good sign in a cancer patient because it could mean the cancer is winning. And here I am listening to What a Feeling and trying not to dance my tailbone into a setback in the healing process. But, it made me feel better – imagining us getting good news instead of bad at the doctor the next day and dancing our way across the Tilikum Crossing Bridge. (Which is near where her doctors office and the chemo ward are.) Trying to mentally prepare myself for the worst while hoping for the best.

 

Mt St Helens as seen through the Tilikum Crossing Bridge from OHSU
Mt St Helens as seen through the Tilikum Crossing Bridge from OHSU

 

Channel peace and serenity: Just before my mom and I left for OHSU a couple of days ago, I saw a picture I’d forgotten to post from a couple of weeks ago. It looked so peaceful and tranquil and I knew I needed some of that peace for the day. So I thought it fitting that it somehow hadn’t gotten posted and was just sitting there waiting for the perfect time for me to post it. A reminder that whatever was coming, we’re in God’s hands ultimately. And those are good hands to be in.

 

Peace and serenity
Peace and serenity

 

Embrace the darkness: You know that saying, ‘The nights always darkest before the dawn’. Know that you’re dawn is coming. And not all dark things are bad. As my mom and I sat at the doctor’s office, the doctor was showing us the tumors. This time the news was good! The tumors had shrunk down in size – one of the original ones on her lungs was back to it’s original size, and the other one that was a bit bigger was smaller than the second cat scan she’d had but still bigger than the first time. And then he pointed to the middle and said ‘But it’s darker here in the middle. Even darker than the last time.’ That’s actually good news when it comes to looking at a cat scan of cancer tumors! The contrast stuff they give my mom before doing a cat scan makes those things light up like Christmas tree lights, so the darkness in the tumor actually means they’ve gone necrotic. They’re dying out! Whoohoo!!!!!

 

It's always darkest before the dawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn.

 

*On a side note, another dark thing that isn’t bad is dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate! But not the kind that is so dark it tastes like baking cocoa. Blech. Maybe I’m more of a semi-sweet/dark chocolate lover. I’ve decided Dove Dark Chocolates are the perfect blend of dark chocolate. Not so dark they are bitter, but not yucky milk chocolate as well. And dark chocolate is actually good for you. I’m sure the kind that is really good for you is the really dark bitter kind, but any dark chocolate is better for you than milk chocolate. So yeah, yum. Dark chocolate rocks! So feel free to buy yourself a nice dark chocolate Easter bunny for Easter. You can thank me later…

 

Dove dark chocolate
Dove dark chocolate

 

Photo credit: Chipmunk photo credit – ankakay Ain’t too proud to beg via photopin (license)

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Show me Your glory!

I was walking around through the ice a couple of days after the ice storm because I’d seen the sunshine come out when I was driving about that morning and I was bowled over seeing the beauty of the sun shining through the trees in all it’s glory.

But, I hadn’t had breakfast yet, so I thought I’d go home, eat, and then go out and take photos. In the meantime, the clouds came out and the sun was hidden. By the time I was ready to go, there was no sun shining down in all it’s glory through the ice. I was so bummed. So I waited a bit. Finally, I could see an edge to the clouds covering the sun and decided to just go out and walk around in the ice in hopes that the sun was going to return.

Just when I was beginning to think it wouldn’t come out of the clouds, I’d get a brief moment of sunshine. It elusively kept peeking out of the clouds, playing a game of peek-a-boo with me.

I walked over to a school nearby and it was cloudy when I got there. But I could tell the school grounds would be a magical winter wonderland if only the sun would come back out and play.

 

Ethereal world - through the portal
Ethereal world – through the portal

 

I found myself making my way slowly towards the back of the school grounds, all the while looking up at the sky and telling God to ‘Show me Your glory.’ I knew the sun was up there hiding behind the clouds. I knew it wanted to come out. It just needed a little nudge…

Then, finally, that moment where it came out from the clouds for longer chunks of time so I could see what a wonderful glistening wonderland the world was – all covered in ice.

 

Sunshine on ice
Sunshine on ice

Sometimes, we have moments like that in life ~ I’m having a year like that right now ~ where you know there are good things coming for you and you are just waiting for God to show you His glory. Do you stop to look up towards God and ask him: ‘Show me Your glory’?  I may have been tromping around demanding it like a little kid in this instance. I could see the sun right near the edges of the clouds, just waiting to come light up the ice and snow all around me. I wanted the world to sparkle and shine all around me. I was impatient. I was demanding. I was persistent in my silly little request for the sun to come out as I traipsed around in the ice and snow.

 

Winter wonderland
Winter wonderland

 

But then I think, am I that persistent when it comes to the big things? My mom’s cancer? My low income this whole year? My worries about the future? Hmmm. Am I that demanding? Like a little kid knowing there are good things coming and demanding that they just hurry on up and get here? Or am I just politely asking, well, mostly begging when it comes to my mom and the cancer. Not really asking about the other stuff much. If you know there are good things in store, why not just look up towards heaven and tell God to show His glory in your life?

Because it seems childish? But doesn’t the Bible tell us “Let the little children come unto me. Do not stop them. For the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

 

A glistening world
A glistening world

In a moment of childlike wonder out in the ice and snow – while anticipating the beauty I would see when the sun shone through all the ice making the world glimmer and shine – I found myself demanding God move those clouds the rest of the way out of the way and show me His glory. And eventually he chose to answer my request. Probably to shut me up. He didn’t need to. I could have walked all the way around the school grounds without the sun lighting up the winter wonderland before me. But he knew my repeated request was coming from that childlike sense of awe, wonder and anticipation for good things to come. As adults, I think there are very few times we come to God in that state.

 

Sunbeams through the ice covered trees
Sunbeams through the ice covered trees

This Christmas season, I hope that you are able to find that childlike wonder and that God responds by showing you His glory.

 

.. And the glory of the Lord shone around them.
.. And the glory of the Lord shone around them.

 

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