Remember when my friend told me it was time for something good to happen?
That was seven months ago. And it was somewhere around FORTY ONE months ago that we started hoping something good might happen as we tried to start a family. Time has a way of racing and standing still all at once. But there is no doubt that when you are in a season marked by utter darkness...time slows to a crawl.
I remember I used to LOVE turning the page of a calendar to a new day or a new month. Maybe even a new season, a new holiday to look forward to. But when a season marked by pain, loss, and sorrow comes upon you, the passage of time loses its luster. And so do a lot of other things. More specifically, in this season marked by barrenness and infertility, the passage of time becomes a taunting, jarring reminder of what you're losing with each day that passes. Birthdays and new years, once a welcomed reason to stop and celebrate the convivial life, now threatened to usher in a tidal wave of grief.
Another year gone by.
Another year carrying around this suffocating and hidden pain.
Another year LOST.
That's how it feels.
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you let me carry around sorrow in my heart all day long? (Psalm 13)
The Psalms of Lament have come alive in ways I have never known before. They put words to my awful feelings. They provide relief because I finally feel like maybe I'm not totally losing it. They make it possible to pray again. Because the tattered, tired, worn-out prayer that keeps going unanswered is too painful to keep praying. Sending it out into the deafening silence and shattering unresponsiveness from God. But the Psalms can fill the deepest recesses of our emptiness and loneliness with validation. That is the power of God's Word even when God seems afar off. I am not alone. You are not alone. We just feel alone sometimes.
Although it is dramatic that the Bible starts and ends with light, it is sobering to realize that there is a lot of darkness in between. In rhythms that wax and wane, the light and darkness dance as uneasy partners. Often the darkness overtakes, and the light seemingly disappearts. There is aching and despair, questioning and pleading, deafening silence and pain.
Our lives, too--yours and mine--have this rhythm of light and darkness. The light fades; then it brightens. The good and bad, the easy and difficult exist together, sometimes in the same space and other times with one overtaking the other. But still, the light is there, stronger even in its lesser forms than the darkness. That is the promise of Jesus, the Light of the World: he overcame every kind of darkness, even death, the final form of darkness.
--Nancy Ortberg, Seeing in the Dark
What good could come from getting bad news over and over for 4 years? This is an unanswerable question. It's not that nothing good can come from it. It's just that nothing we would offer to one another as a reason is going to help. But I will say this. In the terrible brokenness and pain, I am even more desperate for the One who redeems everything. He overcame every kind of darkness so that we might have a shred of light in this life.
"Is there anything good?" A friend asked. Yes, yes. There are good things, I conceded. It's just that in seasons of darkness the good things, the hopeful things, are like fireflies. Thrilling and magical for a split second. And just like that they're gone. And the darkness presses back down with even more weight than before.
Chiaroscuro. Light and dark together, side by side. I recently read about this art form in Seeing in the Dark by Nancy Ortberg. In the late 1400s, the art world made a giant leap forward when artists began to experiment with shading and using light and dark to achieve volume and dimension. More than anything, this proximity of light and dark in a work created perspective.
In reading these words, I found hope. Perspective on the importance of embracing the closeness of light and dark. A picture of the beauty that can come from light and darkness co-existing. Joy & sorrow inextricably intertwined.
Light and darkness, side by side, providing a contrast for better perspective. And so it is with our lives: chiaroscuro for the soul. Light illuminates the darkness, in shades and shadows, giving just enough brightness to provide depth and understanding. Seeing the two side by side allows us to appreciate how the light illuminates the darkness, how the darkness makes the light more vivid.