Back when I was a mom of young children, my husband booked me a room at our favorite bed and breakfast and sent me off for the night. From the time I left the house my thoughts remained at home with my family and worry followed me through the gourmet dinner and into my room with the fluffy comforter and peacock wall paper. During those years, I didn’t often get out by myself and I had little practice at how to relax and leave my (very capable) husband in charge.
I called our landline expecting to check-in and maybe say goodnight to a few of the kids.
I called again. No answer.
I repeated this act every few minutes over the next hour. Call my house. No Answer. Repeat steps one and two. Another hour went by, and a third hour. I tried to remain calm but no reasonable explanation would surface in my brain. Visions of blood and bone and the emergency room preyed upon my mind until, finally, I surrendered to the worry. I wrote a note to the owner and headed to my car.
The bed and breakfast was located about forty-five minutes from our house, or at least that was true in the daylight when my husband was sitting beside me, reading a map to navigate the unfamiliar roads. When I began the journey home, it was after midnight and there were fifteen unlit miles of country road ahead of me. Did I mention it was also foggy?
It’s been over a decade since that night but I still remember the terrifying feeling of having absolutely no idea where I was or what roads I needed to take to get home. With the darkness unbroken by street lamps, the beam of my headlights only served to thicken the white wall of fog in front of me. I had to proceed slowly, inching forward as I navigated the winding roads and tried to read the street names. The drive took me about an hour and half but it felt like six hours because that’s how slow the time (and the car) seemed to move forward. I filled the expanse with images of what horror I might find when I got home. If I get home, I thought to myself. My racing mind, the cloaked landscape, and the absence of warm human voices joined together loudly as I drove cautiously toward my destination.
“I still remember the terrifying feeling of having absolutely no idea where I was or what roads I needed to take to get home.”
Eventually, I made it to the other side of the darkness and arrived home. My husband and each of the kids were accounted for and peacefully sleeping, all of their limbs firmly attached and unbroken. I vaguely remember the reason my husband gave for why he didn’t answer my calls, something about the phone being stuck under the couch cushions and he couldn’t hear it ring. For five hours. (This is a good time to tell you he’s a number nine on the enneagram.)
This week I’ve thought about how uncomfortable it is to be stuck in the dark. As I move steadily into the third year of chronic pain and unresolved health issues, the motion feels similar to that late-night drive a decade ago. It’s scary to be far from where I want to be armed only with a navigation app that isn’t working. I can’t see the path that will take me where I want to go. I long for some light to be shed and some answers to be revealed. I have run the gamut of western doctors, specialists, and alternative treatments. I’ve pursued these people out of the hope that there is one person that will finally bring the light. But I remain in the dark.
My most recent practitioner, rather than offer ideas for recovery, confirmed my very fears with her words, “Boy, your body sure is a mystery, isn’t it?” My heart sank to the carpet. Who can help me?
Since the magic person hasn’t shown up, it’s easy to buy into the lie that it’s up to me to heal myself. Cue scrolling through message boards, reading supplement reviews on Amazon and researching medical studies. All I find are contrasting answers and a list of treatments I’ve tried already. In trying to shine my own light on the problem, it only serves to blind me further. My body has become a mystery even to myself, a stranger not to be trusted. Remember, I tell myself for the billionth time in the past two years, you lack the knowledge or power to heal yourself.
This is not my first time walking through the shadowlands. Over the years, circumstances have brought our family here, many times. When the darkness threatens to overcome, my saving hope is in the knowledge that God doesn’t have the same problem:
‘-even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, the darkness is as light to you.’ (Psalm 139)
I have sat in emotional darkness, spiritual darkness and physical darkness and have again and again been comforted by the knowledge that Jesus is with me always and he is not hindered by the dark. I may be blind in the darkness but he is surrounded by light. In fact, he is the light, casting away all shadows. The fog lifts and the light of his glory reveals the road toward hope and healing. Though he does not remove the blinders from my eyes (not yet), he encourages me to take his arm, to trust in him, to let him lead.
Though the doctors and I are limited in the understanding of my body, my God is unlimited. He knit me together in my mother’s womb. Nothing is hidden from him.
Though I lack the imagination to see a solution to this pain, outside of what I read on the internet, his imagination cannot be measured.
Though I see only darkness, He is the light of the world and the darkness cannot overcome his love and truth.
With this knowledge, proven true time and time again, it is possible to remain in the dark, and still have hope.
“My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:2)