Every fourth of July, when I was little, my family would pack up a bag with snacks, grabbed our yellow comforter we used for picnics, and headed to join my grandparents along the riverbank to watch the fireworks. I adored unpacking our bag, setting up camp to wait for the darkness to fall so that the fireworks, and lightening bugs, could light up the sky.
Little did I know that years later our family would move right across the street from our firework perch, and even now I enjoy the fireworks each July from my parent’s front steps.
This week has reminded of those simpler times. As I have worked to unpack my belongings at my townhouse, a light from the darkness that took more than seven months to ignite, I have come across items that have splashed memories across the canvas of my mind, like the fireworks across the sky. I have found books, given to me as gifts from long-lost friends. I have found notes tucked in tattered journals. I have found pictures of times and places that I cherish.
Precious memories. Ones that make the past come alive, and make me question if my present is as exciting, as fulfilling and as important as the work I’ve done for God in the past. And darkness falls.
I recently learned that if someone experiences a bout of anxiety or depression once in their life, they are more susceptible to experience it again in the future, even with treatment, since it can literally remap the workings of the brain.
I am hard-wired for anxiety and consequently, I am susceptible to depression. It has hung an impenetrable darkness above me for seasons. It has crept up the back of my throat, like bile rising, and threatened to choke me.
But in the seasons since I first experienced the darkness as a teenager, I’ve learned to look for the light. Sometimes it is as small and as sporadic as the lightening bugs that dance across the riverbank adjacent to my parent’s home. And sometimes it breaks through like the flash of fireworks, quickly illuminating the world, before it dissolves slowly to blackness.
Each time the light peeks through, I hold onto those moments. The sound of my sister belly-laughing at the ridiculousness that is my family. The way the sun filters through the clouds as I drive home from work. The song that softens something within me. Each moment, a simple and small gift to hold onto, to cherish when the darkness seems so thick and impossible to wade through.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. From the beginning of time and forevermore, we have hope that the darkness has not, cannot, and will not overcome the great light that is found in Christ. Through Him all things were made. The small moments; the gift of laughter and sunbeams that melt into my skin, they were created by Him, with just as much care as He crafted my 5’6″ frame.
So when the darkness falls, when I begin to doubt and wonder and think that I am far from His path, He sends something to catch my eye, my ear, or my heart to remind me that He’s still there right beside me and will not allow me to be overcome, to fail or be swept away without His notice. In Him is life, one worth living and fighting for.