It’s 9:30 P.M. and I’ve just left dance for the night. I trudge down the front steps of my studio and wearily head for my car. Throwing my bag in the back seat, I shut the car door and heave a sigh. I can tell my thoughts are spiraling by the heavy weight that has settled in my chest. I shuffle my playlist entitled, “Oops, I’m Sad Again,” and it takes me until I reach the light at East Cherokee and Mill Creek for the tears to start. Ten minutes later, I pull into my driveway and wipe my tears away, knowing that I'll repeat the same process tomorrow night.
On nights like these, I get stuck on the self-pity train. Through the tears, I repeat “I feel so alone” and “I don’t know how to do this anymore.” The depressive thoughts pull me into a downward spiral, making me feel like there is nothing left of me.
I have a very imaginative mind, and when I feel lonely, my mind often creates a bleak and dreary landscape for itself. I imagine myself on my knees, back hunched and shoulders shaking with silent tears. I'm surrounded by complete darkness, except for a light shining down on me from somewhere far above. The me in my head knows that she can’t do life alone anymore, so she begins to look around for help. Looking right to left, in front and behind all she sees is complete and utter darkness. She has forgotten to look up at the light.
Dramatic as it seems, this really is what I see in my mind's eye. The darkness that I’m looking to represents the world, and the light shining down on me represents Christ. Often, I find myself looking to friends and family, social media or my favorite books and movies to fix my depression. When I’m in the Dunkin’ drive-thru, I often jokingly (read: seriously) think to myself, “Maybe this coffee will make me feel better.” It never does.
It seems silly to continue to look to the world for help when, at best, it only momentarily distracts me from my woes. This method of distraction is really just a form of escapism to avoid the blaring, sinful truth of my self-pity. The truth is I am never alone, and as a believer in Christ, I am called to cast all my anxieties on Him. In the end, He is the one who cares for me, and He will never leave me feeling abandoned and lonely.
Though my short-sightedness causes me to forget Christ's nearness, He is gracious and never ceases to remain by my side, reminding me of His presence in my life. I recently reread Psalm 139 and verses 11-12 stood out to me, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”
If I believe the words of the Lord, then I know that my darkness is nothing to His light. I now understand when these feelings of loneliness and depression sink in, all I have to do is reach out my hand and Christ will be there, lighting up my darkness and providing me with a way out. I am never truly alone with Christ.
Next time I find myself in that dark headspace, instead of reaching for my phone as a distraction, I’ll open my Bible. Rather than perpetuating the sadness with my pitiful playlist, I’ll choose my worship music. Instead of reaching out to my friends first, I’ll fall on my knees and pray. The Lord is near; all I have to do is look for Him. I am never alone.