Are You Afraid of the Dark?

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When I was younger, there was a series of Saturday night shows on the Nickelodeon channel branded as SNICK. It kicked off with the R.L. Stine-inspired campfire story show, Are You Afraid of the Dark? I loved the unexplained mysteries and the way the storytellers portrayed bumps in the night. I may or may not have planned my grade school weekends around this. (Spoiler: I totally did.)

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A few years ago, my husband gifted me with a Kindle for Christmas. It didn’t take long before I’d loaded it with mystery novels and psychological thrillers — my favorite genre. One might wonder, what’s the appeal? For me, it’s a brain vacay with a surge of excitement, thrill of adventure, but a happy ending when the mystery is solved, justice is served, and I can drift off to dreamland in my safe, comfy bed.

Even with mysteries and thrillers, the rhythm and formulas are certain. We all know life doesn’t share the same predictability; we all know the feeling of an emotional mountain top one day and plummeting to a deep valley the next.

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When discussing our personality differences as co-workers, the first contrasting point I acknowledge is my husband’s need for stability and my aversion to routine. It’s a learning curve, but this becomes one of my greatest strengths when literally no two days in the “game of life” are ever alike. I’ve learned to expect the ups and downs while looking for light in the dark.

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There’s a vintage cocktail bar with Polynesian flair in East Nashville. They serve drinks en flambe and the atmosphere takes you back in time to all things 1950s tiki. We gathered under an outdoor cabana a few weeks ago to celebrate a new friend’s birthday.

When I think back on the conversation there, I question how it started while simultaneously treasuring my Enneagram 4 friends – always willing to dive deep anytime and anywhere. “So, we speak the same language,” she laughed. She and I discovered that we shared similarities in our upbringing and faith.

“You know, darkness isn’t a bad thing,” my friend said matter-of-factly.

Just the mention of the word triggered me back to the start of 2018 remembering the chaos and suffocation — recalling the desperate panic to get out. My experience had transformed the mere mention of darkness from storybook fiction to real life association. I cocked my head inquisitively and leaned in for an explanation… because if you ask me, darkness isn’t just a bad thing. It’s the very worst thing.

“It was dark in the beginning,” she explained. “The darkness was necessary in order for light to exist.” This was logical. It felt true. And I surprised myself when the sting retreated at my understanding.

Darkness continues to creep in occasionally in those unexpected ups and downs and the unknowns of what a new week might hold, but today I’m reminded that I’m no longer a slave to fear; my fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in the love of community.

At this point, I don’t consider myself to be on the other side of anything, but a bit farther down the road carrying an added luggage bag of empathy. I see the darkness that permeates our broken world, but I can also see light coming through the cracks as actual hope.

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