The light of the stars were bright in the desert. They lit up the night which was cold with desert winds. Alone facing darkness, I watched the night sky. My life seemed to turn down a dark road; and I stayed up alone grieving the betrayal I faced.
Just married nine days, my new husband decided to desert me in the desert, leaving me stranded 3,000 miles from home. He went AWOL from the Army and our marriage. I never knew why. I just remember how dark the night was and the brightness of the stars as I sat on the back porch of my overnight shelter the base officials provided me when they learned of my situation.
Ashamed and scared, I didn’t know what the next day would bring. Luckily, I met a kind woman at the American Red Cross office. She provided me with a plane ticket home. My flight took me to Atlanta in the dark of night where I would wait for a connecting flight to the Greenville Airport.
At the end of the bright hall, my dad stood with my mom waiting. He woke in the middle of the night and drove to Atlanta because the Holy Spirit revealed my plan that in my shame I planned to disappear into the dark night.
Almost 10 months later, my first marriage dissolved with an annulment. I never heard from my first husband again. He left my life like the desert winds, high and dry.
A few years later, I found someone else that I thought God intended for me, but that marriage too ended in darkness of abuse and tears. It seems my decisions brought darkness and betrayal. Would I ever learn? How could I have known? How did I miss God when I married him: another man who would betray me?
Grief brings darkness too. I have shared in the past how I lost my father. He died by himself of a massive heart attack.
Looking back over the dark times, I see glimmers of light. Light can thread its way into the darkest places of our lives, bring hope and renewal. Then, God touches our pain, revives us and restores us. Nancy Ortberg writes about this in her new book Seeing in the Dark: finding God’s light in the most unexpected places.
I also saw the in-between times, that Nancy writes about too. After my father’s death, I became briefly disengaged from family because of the abuse by my then husband. It escalated, and I decided to leave him because I felt the abuse would never end until he killed me. In less than a year and a half, I lost my father and signed divorce papers. Darkness and grief were my friends then.
I wish Nancy had written her book back then. I learned so much from reading it. Now, my life is full of light because I married the man of my dreams and have a sweet (not when she acts like a teen) daughter with him. Plus, we have a larger family with his three children and three grandchildren. Has it all been a bed of roses? No, but having come from the losses and terrible times of abuse, I see light even when life is hard now.
A few years ago, I suffered depression caused by stress and pain from arthritis. I retired from my career in my mid 40’s because of my disability, and I felt such failure that darkness took a brief victory lap because I even considered suicide. I want to say I came out of this period, shouting and victorious. I didn’t. With time, the feelings simply faded, and I began to focus on my daughter and family again. I had a great counselor too who suggested I start writing as an outlet and even suggested that I start blogging.
I took her suggestion and God used my talents to restore hope and light into my life. When I began my blog in 2013, I had no direction. My first blog was about thoughts on politics and current issues in the news. I started a second blog to feature book reviews. Somehow both these blogs merged when I found a lighted path. I discovered Allume, a blogging conference for Christian women. Allume means light in French, and my blog changed because I learned that God wanted my focus on Him. I felt stupid though because I should have started with Him.
I was unable to attend the conference that year, but I devoured their blog and started reading bloggers like Ann Voskamp and LisaJo Baker. Last year, I attended and found so much help and love. Now, my blog is being read by women all over the world: China, Singapore, Germany, Australia. Great Britain. God has given me direction, and I have a bright and lighted future ahead of me as I continue to follow Him.
To get here though, I had to experience darkness and shame, just as Nancy writes. These times of darkness were training periods.
“Sometimes you just have to sit and stay in the darkness. Sit and stay when every cell in your body is telling you to move and medicate. Sit and stay, wait. Let the dark sky envelope you, because if you move too quickly, your eyes will never adjust, and if they never adjust, they will never see. At least they’ll never see what they are supposed to see. … You will be moving and unable to receive what you need most.”
I also learned from reading Nancy’s book, Seeing in the Dark, that my future blends into shadows of light and dark. Dark times await. Jesus tells us that in the world we will have tribulation or times of great trouble, darkness, but as she writes that [tweetthis twitter_handles=”@MaryHill16″]Even in our darkest hours, our light, Jesus, The Light of the World, is there.[/tweetthis]
I think the most important lesson from reading her book is that our darkness is just not for us. Jesus can use it to illuminate and help others. [tweetthis twitter_handles=”@MaryHill16 @NancyOrtberg”]Your story of darkness can provide a lamp unto others. [/tweetthis] Those dark times can provide hope to other people. We all go through times in our lives that hurt and bring darkness. In these times, Jesus gives us just the right amount of light that we can handle. It is a light that leads us to Him. We survive and the dawn comes. Then we take the light He has given us and watch for others who need light and help. We can pass it on using the gifts and talents He has bestowed upon us.
About the author: Nancy Ortberg is the Director of Leadership Development at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, in Northern California, and the author of Seeing in the Dark: Finding God’s Light in the Most Unexpected Places and Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands, Lessons in Non-Linear Leadership. A highly sought-after speaker, Nancy has been a featured presenter at the Catalyst and Orange conferences, and has been a regular contributor to Rev! Magazine. She and her husband, John, live in the Bay Area and have three grown children: Laura, Mallory, and Johnny.
Disclosures : I would like to thank Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes. My review has been reflective, but I highly recommend this book. Also if you would like to purchase this book, it is available through Amazon. If you purchase using this link, as an affiliate, I will receive a small percentage which I use to help pay blogging expenses. Thank you for your support!
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