Recently one of my grandsons came to spend the night with me for the first time since I moved. He is five. Being a good papaw, I let him stay up later than mommy and daddy do. He fell asleep just before a line of strong thunder storms rolled through. My daughter texted me to see how he was doing. He had been sleeping perfectly through the storm but to my surprise, the beep from his mother’s text startled him and woke him up. The combination of the dark, an unfamiliar room, the storm and the beep from the text was too much and he woke up in a panic.
As adults, we think we have things under control. In truth though, I still respond in many ways like my grandson. I want to believe that at my age I know exactly how life works. I try to act like nothing surprises me. Nothing catches me off guard. In the real world, life happens. I get hit with an unexpected bill. One of my daughters calls from across the country to tell me she has cancer. I find out that sometime this summer I am going to need to move again. My daughter, son in law and grandchildren that I have literally spent time with every day for the past six months are about to move four hours away. Amid all this, I am trying to start a new business. All of these things are really happening in my life right now. On the outside, here at the coffee shop where I’m writing, I look like a guy that has everything together. But on the inside, I feel a lot like my grandson did that night. I’m fearful. I’m panicking. I don’t have any idea what life is going to look like tomorrow.
That night with my grandson, I spoke to him calmly, by name. I moved to his side and pulled him close. We called mom. We talked about the storm. I showed him the radar on my phone and talked about what was happening. He didn’t understand the radar but he liked the bright colors. We talked about the noise that woke him, that it was his mother checking on him. My voice and my presence calmed him. He still wanted to go home to be with mom, but we enjoyed the hour drive as I took him. I finally got to bed about 4AM.
In years past I would have responded to the things that I am currently experiencing by running as fast as I could to find soothing and relief through my addiction. Today, I have grown up and I’m a child again. When I find myself in the dark, afraid, I know that even if I can’t see it, there’s a hand that I can reach out and grab. Ultimately that hand that I reach for is Jesus, but usually he uses the hand of my sponsor, my friends, my family, my church, my recovery community and he pulls me close. I no longer back into a corner alone and isolated. Today, I know, I am never alone in the darkness.
Today, if you feel alone in the darkness, reach out, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.Together, we will walk into the light.