Box of Darkness

They will have no fear of bad news; 
their hearts are steadfast, 
trusting in the Lord.
Psalm 112:7

 This Fall.  It held so much promise and potential. The evening of September 2nd, found me packing lunches in anticipation of the start of a new school year. A year where my kids would go to school and be in classes, learning under teachers that I had prayed for the moment we knew they would be in school. Of course there was the nervous anticipation as well. Had I prepared them well enough? Would they fit in? Are they going to succeed? But all in all, the beginning of school went without a hitch and we were on our way. Until we weren’t.

Life has a way of slowing us down — slowing me down. I get so caught up with the routine and meeting expectations (hopefully surpassing expectations), so I need life to do that and when it does I am shocked.

One week after school started, I was on a plane to Texas without my kids and with Matt and my brother-in-law and his future wife. After a year and half of praying and believing for healing, we had to do the hard work of trusting God’s plan for Tiffany as he took her Home.

Our sweet Bethany is an achiever, but after visiting with the doctor it seems she was, maybe still is, experiencing some anxiety over her entrance to second grade.  She’s had almost an allergic reaction to this period of transition but curiously she outwardly thrives.

And our precious Lucas? Well, school hit him and me like an unwelcome wake-up call and we’ve been challenged to figure out exactly what makes him tick. Socially all is well, but that kid is a d.r.e.a.m.e.r, and every period represents some random thought that he follows down a rabbit hole and forgets to capitalize the beginning and punctuate the ending of the trail.

Oh, my heart.  To see your children struggle and to be grieving in the midst of it, that is a duty of adulthood I was not expecting.

There are these moments that seem so laden with darkness, you fear suffocation and I’m there. I experience that heightened heart beat and quicker breathing accompanied by a flutter in my stomach as I try to figure out how are we going to do this life.

I get tired of talking about seasons of life because I find myself wondering if Spring will ever come. Just when I think we’re going to get a bit ahead there is a new twist in the plot and I’m physically raising an eyebrow and audibly saying, “Huh.”

This is the Fall of hellos and goodbyes, of transitions and take out as I basically quit making dinner in order to tediously encourage fourth grade homework 26 years after I did it myself.  This is the season of one sickness circulating multiple times through the family and bed wetting and sheet changing and then the stomach bug and the three days where I did laundry 18 hours a day and still had six loads left to do. It is a time of busyness and traveling and loneliness.

And in the middle of all this dark that threatens annihilation with its density, I realize that without it I couldn’t see the light.

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant:
if we did not sometimes taste of adversity,
prosperity would not be so welcome.
― Anne Bradstreet

When we made our quick trip to Texas and had to leave behind four kids, we had these incredible friends who took our kiddos in and loved them, kept them safe and worked through their various quirks and schedules in the first week of school. Friends who didn’t just provide beds, food and supervision but who told stories and played games and included our four in their family-life. We had another friend bring reprieve through playdates and doing preschool drop off and pick up, and yet another who picked our oldest up from school and got to know them and made memories over frozen yogurt. We were surrounded by the prayers of an amazing group of women who had also been praying for Tiffany since her first diagnosis and encouraged me with calls and texts while I was processing and trying to figure out exactly how to grieve.  A staff of friends who encouraged us on our way and gave immeasurable support in this unchartered territory.

And those kids who were struggling to adjust to school? How grateful I am for the extra love they received from the teachers that God prepared for them. How incredible it’s been to see how well they know B and L already, and how they are on Team Price for the win, partnering with us as we figure out this new place of parenting.

What a gift it was to be completely present and mostly undistracted to grieve the loss of the sister-in-law that I thought I’d have years to really know. To grieve the loss of a dream of sisterhood. To mourn the loss of one I had prayed for first to come into our lives and second that her life would be spared. And in this season where sadness comes in waves, I am grateful that I knew Tiffany for three years and that the mark she left on me and our family is one I wouldn’t get rid of to spare the pain, because Tiffany could light up a room and truly lived.

And on the evenings when the three younger kids are undoing all the cleaning I’ve spent my day doing and I’m trying to explain the ins and outs of common core math to an uninterested fourth grader who’s swishing water in his mouth, and I lose it and demand through clenched teeth that he focus and fill in the right bubble … when I have to get off my high parenting horse and apologize for being harsh and impatient, the light pierces even that darkness. He says to me, “You don’t have to say sorry. I think you’re the most patient person.” And I’m humbled, because those prayers that God would grow patience in me (but please, oh, please don’t give me cause to be patient) are being answered, and my 9 year old sees the work He is beginning in me and grants a forgiveness I don’t deserve.

In the hours of tending to the sick and wondering who’s going to catch it next and as I carry the lysol can around and boil water to disinfect; as I cry in my laundry room over the mounds of germ induced laundry and I wonder how I will ever finish, and why me, Lord — even in the darkness of the grime and gross I find the light.  It comes in songs and psalms and breath prayers.

In Matt’s absence and long hours and on the evenings when he’s home but still working it suddenly and completely hits me and it’s blinding. And he’s confused and wonders how I’ve never really thought of it before. That man I started dating when we were both really still kids? He may travel the world, but he’s never leaving me. It is grace and it is light.

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.

― Mary Oliver

I can get so caught up in wishing for the Spring and Summer of life that I fail to see the beauty in my Fall. It is forever constant and is always there, that Light that spoke the light into being and we miss it when we focus on the darkness and not the beauty in the ugly.

It’s the living and loving that happens in the little moments, whether many or few.

It’s the mourning and rejoicing and the promise of eternal life and sweet reunion.

It’s the intricate workings of each of our children molded and purposed for His plan.

It’s the ability to be fully present.

It’s His gentle work and His still small voice and their presence in my kids’ lives.

It’s the hard work of mothering, both loving and fierce — vigilant and relentless.

It’s the revealing of His covenant of Love in the comfort of marriage.

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
― Albert Camus
 

Sometimes ‘mid scenes of deepest gloom, 
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.
 
Lord, I would place my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine,
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis my God that leadeth me.
– Joseph H Gilmore

Join us as we explore darkness this month. Start with Allie at A Hopeful Place and follow the links.