First comes love, then comes marriage, then come cheap dinners and at-home date nights as we slowly toil away towards financial freedom!
After my husband and I were married and settled in to life as a team, we had no choice but to face some pretty inhospitable debt — thanks, in part, to my graduate school loans. The overwhelm, stress, and fear that debt causes can put a dark curtain over nearly every aspect of life. Suddenly, everything feels dimmed — and if it’s not dimmed, then hurry up and turn off the light because WE’RE PAYING FOR THAT.
Recently, however, something has shifted.
My husband has been excelling at work, we’ve organized our budget and savings, and royalty checks for a writing project I did have been delivered. The debt isn’t all gone (yet!), but we feel like we have some space to breathe, and hope is shining brightly into some of the previously darkened places in our lives.
My husband overflows with gratefulness and relief as we move towards more comfortable days. I, however, don’t seem to allow the light back in that easily. The dark season still feels so close and so real; with one misstep, I assume the ground below us will open up and we’ll fall right back into the overwhelmingly stressful days of dimness and tuna sandwiches.
My fear of the darkness can so easily keep me from enjoying the light.
I tiptoe around, inching towards places marked with hope and joy while practicing great caution, because what if it doesn’t last?
The truth is — the lighter, leisurely days will not last. Not on this side of heaven, anyway. Winter comes around again, Daylight Savings Time ends, and gray days of snow, slush, and rain become a normalcy. We cannot stop the world from spinning.
Nor can we ward off seasons of grief, financial strain, or illness. No matter how wisely we invest, the number of vitamins we take, or the work we do to remain connected to our spouse — none of us are completely exempt from difficult times.
Darkness comes, and though it does not stay forever, it probably will return every once in a while.
Last year, my husband and I, then-Washington state residents, were driving in a convertible through parts of the Pacific Northwest. It’s mostly true that it rains a lot where we lived in the Seattle area, so any sliver of sunshine is typically cause for celebration. As we were nearing home, the sun came out but the temperature remained around 45 or 50 degrees. This is not prime convertible weather. But . . . sun! And a convertible!
So, we did what mostly any sun-deprived Seattle-ite would do. We bundled up, cranked the car’s heater, and put the top down. We looked utterly ridiculous, I’m sure, but nothing was going to stop us from embracing the (sun)light.
I need more of that in my world — to allow myself to enjoy the light when it is available, even if it is short-lived (or I have to put on thirty layers and a parka to do so). Sure, the light doesn’t last forever, but neither does the darkness — unless, of course, I choose to stay in the difficult and dim places.
If we allow the fear of what could be or the dread of hard days ahead cripple us, so that we cannot relish joy, peace, or sunshine in the “right now” — well, then we’re really missing out.
As a new season approaches, I am doing my best to claim peace over fear, hope over despair, and contentment over dissatisfaction. Even if circumstances feel worrisome, be it in the thick of summer or the dead of winter, I want to let light in. In every season — of the year and of our lives — darkness may exist, but it doesn’t have to dominate. Good times may be sprinkled with troubles, hard times sprinkled with happiness.
Today, I choose hope, faith, and really cold convertible rides under a clear blue sky.