Fear of the Dark
When I was young, my family took a trip to New Mexico. While there, we toured Carlsbad Caverns. One of the things I remember most about that tour was when the park ranger turned off the lights. There we stood, darkness all around us. In hindsight, the lights were not off for all that long, but it was the first time I had experienced true darkness. No streetlights or moon and stars to give a faint glow. Only emptiness, silence, and the feeling of darkness becoming palpable, real, an entity to itself. I remember thinking that surely we were all going to drown in that darkness, consumed in the absolute nothingness of it all. Just as I began to really feel fear, the lights were turned on again, and it seemed as if everyone breathed a big sigh of relief. I carried that moment of darkness with me. When times seemed really bleak, I would remind myself that at least I wasn’t in complete darkness.
Even in the Darkest Times . . .
For single parents, like myself, it often feels like these dark times come more frequently without someone to share them with. For many of us, the holiday season seems especially dark. We are saddled with worries over whether our children will be safe spending Christmas with our ex. We worry whether we can provide our kids with a good Christmas and still pay the bills. Sometimes we even feel the drive to compete with our ex who seems to be trying to buy our kids love through extravagant gifts we can’t imagine affording, and then wondering how they can give these gifts but not give child support.
Often we face the darkness of being alone, our children away from us. Many of us live too far from family or have no family support at all. Yet we are bombarded with messages of how important family is, whether it’s the cliche holiday romance movie where the protagonist goes home to find true love and a renewed connection with family, or Christmas parties where everyone seems happy and excited to spend time with their family. It often feels overwhelming, and imposes its own sort of darkness in feelings of guilt, guilt for not providing that life for our kids, and guilt for being jealous of what others have.
The Light Shines Through
But every so often, a light breaks through the darkness. Perhaps a good friend takes us out for one on one time. Maybe an older couple at church adopts our kids as “grandchildren” and gives them extra and unexpected gifts. Maybe it’s as simple as receiving a surprise gift of groceries, or an anonymous gift of a cash filled envelope with “Merry Christmas” written on the front. In whatever way it comes, these glimpses of light allow us to breathe easier, to breathe that sigh of relief that says darkness isn’t as powerful as it thinks it is; light always wins.
I think about these things, about times when people shined the light of God in my life, the moment the lights came on again in Carlsbad Caverns, the fact that no matter how big the darkness, the tiniest amount of light banishes it, and it fills my heart with joy and song to know that however dark it may seem, God is with us, and in Him there is no darkness. I like to think that this is how creation felt when Christ was born. Finally, the light has come!
Glory to God in the Highest!
Thy Nativity, 0 Christ our God, has shone to the world the light of wisdom! For by it those who worshiped the stars were taught by a star to adore Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, and to know Thee, the Orient from on high! O Lord, glory to Thee!
Christ is born! Glorify Him!
Join the Conversation
Elise and I, as well as our larger church family and other single parents, would love to hear about your experiences. What Christmas traditions do you have for your children? What are some times when you have seen the light break through the darkness of your world? What scripture or hymn is your favorite for Nativity?