Dr. Zoe Shaw, A Year of Self-Care

Scared of the Dark

Scared of the Dark

I used to be scared of the dark.

The kind of scared that—even as a sophomore in high school—I would carry my little sister (who was five years younger) into bed with me at night. Simply hearing the sound of her breathing helped me fall asleep.

Some of us know what it’s like to be afraid of the dark. Not being able to see in front of your face can be a horrifying reality. Depression is like that. It’s a darkness of the soul, and it doesn’t play fair. In the midst of depression, it can feel like heavy smog that makes it impossible to see clearly, even in the light of day. It has the tendency to pollute every crevice of one’s life and attacks most fiercely when we lay down to rest at night.

When depression does math, it doesn’t play by the rules.

Depression only takes away. It vehemently subtracts, and it does so without permission. Depression isn’t afraid of success. The increase in our bank accounts does not decrease our chances of sitting in darkness. Depression is a darkness that does not flee in the spotlight. It is a shadow that follows and torments its host. Often it hides behind the American Dream. It disguises itself behind smiles, church attendance, and good jokes.

Believing in God did not protect me from experiencing depression.

Being “saved” doesn’t save us from facing sickness and sword, including depression. However, God does promise to give us the proper footing as we walk through hard terrain (Psalm 18:33).

Yet the fact remains, Christians who are walking in the light can feel incredible darkness.

Throughout my life, I have felt this darkness in my soul time and again.

I had been married to Jamus a little over a year when we found out the Lord had blessed us with a child. My anticipation grew along with my belly. How exciting to feel life growing inside me! The day arrived when our newborn entered the world and I kissed his sweet head, full of hair, and thanked God for answering our prayers. Three days later I was cursing God for making me a mother. I was holding one of the greatest gifts the Lord has ever given me, and yet I was miserable and tormented in the dark. I would rock my child back and forth, but I was really rocking myself, tears rolling down my face, asking, “Where are you God?” My body hurt from crying. I was exhausted even when I did nothing. Depression took a sledge hammer and tore me apart. Motherhood split my soul open and it was bleeding out tears of fear, anger and confusion.

And then one day it happened. My husband came home from the church unannounced. He didn’t say a word to me, but he physically picked me up, and carried my lifeless body to the car. Having already privately set up an appointment, he drove me to meet with my doctor.

When I swallowed that pill, I realized I was weak and I was in need of desperate help. That pill was not a miracle worker, but God, the Miracle Worker, used that pill to help me, His scared child. Is it for everyone? No. Was it part of God’s plan for my healing? Yes. Through the weakness of my depression, God helped me see that only He could sustain me. I learned that while I was weak, He was strong. There was nothing I could do to bring myself out of the darkness of my depression.

God used depression to show me I am in need of a Savior every single day.

Those struggling with depression (whether it’s spiritual, emotional, physical, or some combination of the three) are given a reminder that they are in great need of a Savior. We see the brokenness of this fallen world in the darkness and cry out to Christ to redeem all that has been lost.

That pill was not a miracle worker, but God, the Miracle Worker, used that pill to help me, His scared child.

In our perceived hopelessness we are reminded that our only hope lies in Jesus Christ’s perfect life and His death in our place. I’m fully persuaded that until the day I die, and see Jesus face to face, there will continue to be a battle that rages in my heart. Sometimes things don’t get much better… in this life.

In our depression, God gets glory as He sustains us in the darkness. Depression becomes a canvas for the Lord to display His glorious light.

Depression left me with nothing to boast about “except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). In our weakness, He is seen to be strong.

I am not scared of the dark like I used to be. My hope comes from knowing that the Light of the world, the bright and morning star is with me in this broken and confusing place.

There is no need to fear the dark because Christ is with you, dear one. Do you hear Him breathing? This darkness may seem to be suffocating your very soul, yet in Christ it has no authority over you. The great Light of the world came to shine into our darkness. He willingly immersed Himself into our mess and brokenness. There is no darkness that is dark to Him (Psalm 139:12). He came to this earth so you can breathe deep and have peace—even when you can’t see through this darkness in front of you.

If you’re in a dark season and could use some extra encouragement, check out Grace in the Desert or My God in the Darkness.

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