Recently, I have become acutely aware of light and shadows. The way they work together. The way one influences the other. The way they complement each other.
These reflections often come in the early morning hours. Usually not long after I’ve had my first sip of coffee. Usually as the sun just begins to ignite the darkness into dawn. Igniting me with hope. This morning was no exception.
Well, except for what time I woke this morning. That we all woke this morning.
Sunrise was a long way off from the 3 a.m. wake up call our five-and-a-half-year-old provided. Aside from being blanketed in the uncontrolled, hysterical sobbing of our sweet girl, we were bathed in darkness and shadow, stumbling through dark rooms and unknowns seeking our bearings.
If you are a parent, you know that there is nothing quite as unsettling and disorienting than a middle-of-the-night crying, writhing child. Add to that two bleary-eyed spouses bumbling around like Keystone Cops into furniture, each other and their fear of the unknown and the tensions ratchet from unsettling to panic-stricken.
As if that weren’t enough, cue the two-and-a-half-year-old awake and there is quickly an undulating current of chaos.
Clearly, none of these are building blocks I would choose to strengthen my marriage. To reinforce our still-mending bond. Mainly because I am so definitely not the voice of reason in the midst of difficulty. I am not the picture of calm. But my husband is. And that does not calm me. Not in the least. Not in the moment. Not like it should.
In fact, it frustrates me. I am like oil to his water. And I don’t mean EVOO mixed with tap water; I’m talking an oil tanker spilling gallons and gallons of thick, black goop and coating the ocean surface and all the life within it.
And so this morning I was frustrated. To the point of fussing at him. To the point of growling out my fear. At him. To the point of snarling out my desire for him to fix it, to know what was wrong, to assuage my fears.
Him telling me in a calm voice that he didn’t know what was wrong or what we should do was not comforting.
Because that’s not his role. No matter how much I demand it of him. No matter how much I wish it of him. No matter how much I expect it from him.
And yet the calm mattered. His calm voice and attitude mattered. This time, the calm triggered something beyond just my frustration. It was small. A glimmer of light in the shadow of fear and doubt. But it was enough.
It was enough to make me slow down.
It was enough to quiet my mumbling and muttering.
It was enough to remind me that there was peace even in the midst of this fear. It just wouldn’t come from David.
But it would come. It would come from prayer. It would come from Jesus.
And so, in the dark hallway, I stopped in my tracks. I breathed deeply. And I prayed. I don’t recall exactly what I prayed. What I asked. What words I said.
But that’s all I needed. It’s all I ever need.
No, it didn’t stop the crying. It didn’t calm the chaos. It didn’t give me answers. But it provided peace. It ignited hope.
Hope enough for that moment.
Hope enough to pause.
Hope enough to breathe.
And in the light of that hope, I realized what I needed to do. Leaning on the giver of hope, I stepped confidently out of the darkness of the hallway and into the soft light of living room. Quietly, I scooped up my daughter and carried her to the car.
Where are we going, she asked through gulping breaths.
Just for a drive, I told her. As we drove, I told her about how I often took her for drives like this when she was a new baby. When she was restless and had difficulty falling to sleep, we would drive. We would listen to music. The same music disc I slid into the car’s player as we pulled out of the driveway.
The music lulled. The car movement soothed. The night sky shined with a bright full moon. We found peace. Together. Just the two of us. Well, the three of us, really. Because Jesus was there. I felt him in the peace that settled over us as we drove through the darkness.
When we came home, things were better. We all still had a long day ahead of us, but I knew it would be alright. It would be challenging. It would be chaotic. It would be exhausting.
But it would be okay.
It would be okay as long as I remembered to pause, to breathe deeply, to pray.
And it was okay. It was challenging and chaotic and exhausting and wearying. But it was okay. More than okay, really. Which is why, when the day was done and I sat in the dimly-lit bedroom singing the hymn, How Great Thou Art to my girls like every other night, I paused. I prayed.
I thanked Jesus that he uses the circumstances of my life to remind me who he is. And he uses those same circumstances to remind me who my husband is.
And how amazing he is in the moments when life seems nothing but chaos and fear. His soft-spoken calm voice in those dark moments echoes the still small voice of God that I desperately need to hear. To feel in my soul. To fill me with hope.
Light. Shadows. Hope.