How to Find the Light in the Darkness
I haven’t known how to write this third part. Yes, it’s taken this long. I wish I could say that after all that, I just decided I was going to fight…was going to live…and miraculously life got better. But it didn’t. That’s not how it happened at all.
The reality is, the journey out of the pit you’re in often seems more painful than just wallowing at the bottom.
I didn’t know where to start and didn’t trust anyone. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, ashamed. Moving from North Carolina to Missouri then to South Carolina all in less than two months had me feeling scattered and lost. I don’t have much recollection of those two months. It was during that time I first talked to the man who would eventually be my husband, but a relationship wasn’t even on my radar at that point.
No, I didn’t want or need anyone else anymore. I needed to be OK. I had to fix ME.
What did I do?
Well, as soon as I moved to South Carolina, I started trying to put the pieces of my life back together. In fact, on the drive down I bought “No Excuses! The Power of Self-Discipline” by Brian Tracy. If you haven’t read it, you can find it HERE.
If you prefer a Cliff Note version, there’s a free one on Kindle Unlimited.
I, personally, listened to it in the car while I was driving on Audible. (If you aren’t big on reading or spend a lot of time in the car, I highly recommend getting your books on Audible. Kindle is more my jam because I love to read, but Eddie gets all his books on Audible and listens to them in his car.)
I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear the truths in that book. It was reading that book that helped me realize I wasn’t a victim. I could refuse to play that role. I could decide what choices I would make. No one could make those decisions for me. It was so empowering. Slowly, I began to make small changes that made a huge difference.
I started devouring any other personal development books I could find like “Daring Greatly,” “The Compound Effect,” and “You Are A Badass.”* I started making lists and setting goals. I started making small steps in the direction I wanted my life to go.
Little by little, I stopped accepting poor treatment as somehow deserved. I found self-worth, started paying more attention to what I ate, and started working out again…only this time it wasn’t because I needed to get some guy’s approval, so he’d stop chasing other women. Nope. I would never do that again. This time it was just because I wanted to feel good and be healthy, to have energy to chase my children and my dreams.
I worked hard over the next few months to rebuild my life from the ground up, but the truth is, the real work was being done behind the scenes, and there’s no way I can take credit for it.
As I write this, it’s Christmas Day. A couple of weeks ago, our pastor, Chris Rollins, preached a sermon that got its title from a well-known Christmas Carol “O Holy Night.” I had never really thought about the words he pointed out.
“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
Weary is about the best word I could think of to describe where I found myself that Christmas 2014.
I had just moved to Charleston. I was reeling from the loss, trauma and multiple moves. I was trying to take care of four children, find a job, find a place to live. Reality is, I could only do so much.
Christmas Day 2014 I sent a text to a guy I had only talked to online a few times…and hadn’t even done that in more than a month. I don’t know what possessed me to send it. It was only two words.
Those two words sparked a conversation that led to a first date two days later. That first date led to an incredible relationship with a man who changed my entire life. That relationship led me to a church that helped me recover, learn, grow and brought more amazing people into my life.
I stumbled on all of that completely by chance…or did I?
I could write page after page of the miracles that took place over the next year…but Christmas 2015 I spent in a house I absolutely loved on Charleston Air Force Base with my husband and our five beautiful children…happier than I had ever been in my life.
Nothing had been left to chance. God knew exactly what I needed. He didn’t make it easy…and honestly, looking back, I understand why. I wouldn’t have been who I needed to be for my husband prior to 2014- wouldn’t have been who I needed to be for my kids, for the situations I would find myself in over the next four years. In the struggle, I became the woman I needed to be for the next step in life. The person I was before the struggle would have made an absolute mess or it, or missed it entirely.
“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” – Psalm 30:5
The night had been so dark…but the morning…
What to do when you’re struggling
I know there are so many of you who are hurting this Christmas. It’s still dark. You’re still struggling to find your way. You still can’t make sense of it all. And that’s OK.
But please know, you are loved. There is hope. His name is Jesus.
No two paths are the same, and I can’t give you a perfect road map forward for your life. I can give a few suggestions…
I can’t stress this enough. I read everything I could get my hands on in regards to personal development, recovery, or restoration. I really do highly recommend “No Excuses!” by Brian Tracy- in fact, I’m currently re-reading it. However, you can find dozens of amazing books with a quick Google search for Best Personal Development Books.
Most books of this nature are written by people who have overcome some staggeringly difficult things. Reading their stories and advice is helpful in two ways.
One: you start to realize you’re not alone in the dark places. You’re not the first one who’s been here. You’re not the only person to struggle with this. And clearly, you don’t have to stay here forever.
Two: They tell you how to get out. It’s really that simple. People who have walked through dark places back into the light are invaluable resources when you’re struggling because they know how to make it. Don’t reinvent the wheel trying to figure out how to survive the mess you’re in. You don’t have the time or the energy for that. Let someone else help you get out who has already done it.
Don’t give me the “I don’t have time to read” excuse, either. I do almost all my reading on my phone while waiting for my kids at this appointment or that practice, etc. If you don’t have a Kindle app, you can get it HERE. If you prefer listening on Audible, get it HERE. It doesn’t matter how you get the words into your head, what matters is that they get there. Trust me on this one. It matters.
Take Care of Yourself
The first thing that goes out the window when we’re overwhelmed, is our care of self. We run ourselves ragged trying to make everything right. But you can’t pour from an empty cup and eventually you’ll just run yourself into the ground and find yourself unable to do anything you need to do.
You don’t have to completely overhaul everything. Just do something. Take a walk. Drink more water. Eat something relatively healthy. Eat at all. Do yoga. Breathe. Run a bubble bath. Get a massage. Take an unapologetic nap. Caring for your well-being isn’t a luxury. It’s necessity.
Count Your Blessings
It sounds cliche, I know, but studies have shown the profound impact of gratitude on our lives. We don’t see the world as it is. We see the world as we are. The more focused we become on the good things in our lives, the easier it becomes to handle the bad things.
Know It Will Be A Journey
Four years later, I wish I could say it’s all been easy and wonderful since then. It hasn’t. Life is still hard. I still struggle sometimes with the wounds of the past. I still go through phases, especially this time of year, that require counseling and very intentional self-care. My husband is an absolute saint for holding me through the stormy seasons when I’m stuck in a past that won’t let go of me, the nightmares return and I’m raw and unreasonable.
But having walked through those dark days of 2014, my weary heart can rejoice in anything because I know “yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” It’s not just a carol to sing…it’s a promise to me…and to you.
Merry Christmas, from my heart to yours,
*Please note, I do not necessarily agree with everything stated in these books or the way in which it is stated. I know some people will refuse to read things that may contain a line or two they disagree with. If that’s you, that’s your prerogative. Personally, I find that with most books, I can take the good content and ignore the stuff I either dislike or don’t feel applies. It’s called being a grown up. I highly recommend it. 😉
**Post contains affiliate links to the things I used in my own journey