Light in the Darkness
Most of us would agree that it’s completely normal for a 7 year old boy to be afraid of the dark, or the skeletons or zombies that hide within it (thank you Minecraft). But every now and then, my big guy’s fear of the dark and the monsters that reside there turns into fear of the darkness, full of the bad people that perpetuate violence, which he hears regularly outside our apartment door, and the death that stole one of our most beloved friends nearly 2 months ago. Sunday night was one such night. To say he was inconsolable was an understatement.
I tried to help walk him through it by reading from the Prophets and Psalms, reminding him God is with him in times of trouble, and would never leave him or forsake him. That God’s arms are like a big fortress that saves us from darkness, violence and even sickness.
His retort slapped away my comfort, “but I can’t see God! If I want to see God, I have to throw myself into the abyss! It’s not fair!” I had seen my friends writhe within the tension of the personal and close, yet physically absent Savior in moments where a tangible touch was needed. It broke my heart to see my baby struggle with the same.
I manically began searching through all of my religious and philosophical education desperate to find something I could say that would grant him the peace that would allow him to sleep. My eyes landed on one more verse: “Perfect love casts out all fear.” I read it to him and said that we know a lot of people who love him very much. I asked him to lay in bed, and as I named our loved ones, I wanted him to imagine their love as this beautiful warm, white light coming from them, wrapping around him and keeping him safe from the darkness. We started with grandmas, aunties and uncles, and then our friends and their children. We went on for a solid 2 minutes without pause, and when I did stop for 10 seconds to think if I could be missing anyone, he named 2 friends of mine on his own and then was fast asleep.
I thanked God for these “Jesus with skin” loved ones that I could name in the face of Darkness, whose constant, faithful, radiant love can be picked up and wrapped around my son like a blanket, casting out completely that which had threatened to consume him. And I prayed we would be people who emanated a love that the dark would flee from.