Live in the Light

It’s amazing how much can change in one year. Dreams can become reality; goals are reached; children grow; and people graduate. What once felt so far off becomes reachable, but one year does not contain only good news. Sometimes in the course of one year, dreams are lost; goals are dropped; classes failed; or relationships ended. Sometimes when we look back on a year, we only see the bad that happened or the disappointments in that year. 

“I didn’t lose all that weight I wanted.” 

“I had to spend all of my money on bills again this year.” 

“I don’t feel like I spent as much time with my family this year.” 

Bad moments and negativity can easily overshadow the good in a year. I know that for me, pessimism comes much easier and more naturally than optimism. 

One year ago I wrote my first blog post for the Pearl Press, and boy did I find it lackluster. When Rachel and Dalayna came to me about the Pearl Press, I thought, “This could be really awesome, but I do not want to write for the blog.” 

You see, I am not a blog writer. I know, sounds ironic since I am writing for the blog, but I feel as though a blog is a written conversation (albeit one-sided), and I am terrible with conversations. I can never think of interesting stories to share or relatable topics for people who do not live in the nerd culture I live in. I was trained to write sermons and research papers, and to try to convey theological concepts without technical jargon is really difficult for me. So when I was asked to write, I said that I should just be part of the prayer team or I could just repost things on Facebook. Rachel and Dalayna decided to ignore me and added me to the writing team anyway.

So I wrote my first post, but then life happened. I was in my final year of seminary, taking the hardest semester ever. I was in the midst of ending a poor living arrangement, and moving all of my possessions over my fall break, while taking a week long class and completing midterms. Anxiety hit me like a ton of bricks, and depression soon joined in the mix. I decided that I needed a break from the Pearl Press. So after my first disappointing post, I hung up my blogger hat, and focused on working through my anxiety. My year was not going great. I was struggling every day to find any form of joy in my life. All that I could see was the bad news of the year. I couldn’t see an end to my despair.

Yet, like a storm, the end did come slowly, although it looked as though it never would. Little by little, the anxiety lessened, and my world began to have color instead of only gray tones. Through my storm, God held my hand and walked me through the darkness. He took my jagged edges, and used the water from the storm to smooth them. I met God in a new way through this pain, and I saw how consistent and reliable His love really is for me. He held on to me when I thought I would drown, and He brought me out on the other side as a stronger woman, who continues to work through her anxiety. That’s the power of the God we serve. He meets us in this broken world, and while He does not always prevent us from experiencing the pain or evil of this world, He makes us strong to face it and come out victorious with Him.

When it was decided that we would write a series called Beauty Under Pressure, I knew that I wanted to share my struggle with depression and anxiety. I believe that the Church is becoming more open to mental health issues, but I also know that those of us who have first-hand accounts of these issues, should step forward and share. It was my first post back with the Pearl Press after taking a break, and this was a great way to share with not only our team about my recent struggles, but also to let our readers know that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to say that life isn’t going well, that you need help, or that you can’t handle everything. Too often we can feel the need to take on every project to somehow prove that everything is fine, but there’s strength in saying no and finding help. There’s strength in leaning on others and letting people know that you aren’t fine; that you need to step back, to take a break, to breathe.

I think the Beauty Under Pressure posts helped me see the struggles that we all go through. A preacher once said that if we were to look at everything in other people’s lives, all the hidden parts and dark stories, we would never want to trade their life for ours. Everyone has a past, and with that past comes darkness. Sin loves the darkness and wants to keep us living there, but God came to bring us light in our darkness and new life; a life that can only be lived in the light. In every one of those posts that month, the constant theme was how God took our struggles and made us better. How God stepped into the dark and gave us His light.

Looking back on this year, I can clearly see the darkness. Every year has darkness; it’s part of living in a fallen world, but we still serve a God of light. His light has already erased all of the darkness, we just need to accept His light and live in it. When the darkness comes, look harder for God’s light and choose it. It might seem dim at times, or completely gone, but it’s there, waiting and waiting. It will be there when no one else is or when nothing is going right. That light will never diminish. Live your years in that light; seek it out and it will make your year truly bright.

To celebrate our 1 year anniversary, every Thursday this month we will be hosting a giveaway. This past Thursday was our first giveaway, and we thought this lovely strand of pearls would be the perfect thing to start off with! Aren't they gorgeous?!

We are so happy to announce our first winner....

Joanna Marie

Be sure to keep an eye out for our next giveaway this Thursday.

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