Ever since I can remember, my son Liam has been afraid of the dark. He's had the same moon-shaped nightlight since he was a tiny baby. And so when the bulb burnt out last night, he was thrown into an outright panic.
[Insert blood-curdling scream here]
I lied in bed with him as he clung onto me for dear life. I brushed the hair from his sweaty little forehead. And I kissed his tear-stained cheeks.
We talked about "the dark." And I tried to get out of him what he was so scared about.
Of course, it was the same old story. Evil lurks under the bed, and in the shadows. And we simply do not know what's hiding where we cannot see.
But that's when our conversation took a turn.
I mentioned the moon and the stars and the fireflies in the sky. And right out the blue, Liam said one of the most incredible things I have ever heard: "huh....ya, I guess sometimes we need a little bit of darkness to see beautiful things."
Certainly, we've all had our fair share of darkness in life.
Pain. Fear. Stress. Heartache. Loss. Sadness.
But I ask you this. What kind of beauty has emerged out of that darkness? What has become visible to you, only as a result of being in that scary place?
I can remember a time in my life when I felt completely depleted. I was giving everything I had to my kiddos, including working at a job that was remarkably unfulfilling....simply because it paid the bills.
I would open my eyes in the morning, and be flooded with anxiety. The endless to-do lists. The constant demands. And the feeling of exhaustion, even before I began my day.
I would walk around, invisibly cocooned by the things I wanted to control. Thinking that if I kept my worries close, I would be able to manage them. If I kept my fears in plain sight, they would have less of a chance of coming true.
I was in a dark place.
But out of that darkness, came the most beautiful realization.
I have the power to choose to love myself, with everything I have. I have the power to choose to surrender to life, rather than be constricted by it.
I realized that I was the one weighing myself down. And that the very act of picking up burden and worry, was causing me to sink, like a rock, to the bottom of the river. The very act of picking up fear, was causing me to live in the very place I was trying to avoid.
My ultimate fear was that I would fail as a mother.
Particularly if I showed myself some love, and put my own well-being first.
But the second I put that fear down, and I began to care for my body, my mind and my spirit......I was freed from my own prison.
At the gym, strength is measured by how much weight we can add onto our bar. Yet, oddly enough, outside of the gym, strength can be measured by how much weight we are willing to let go of. How much we are willing to surrender. And much we are willing to drop our own worst fears.....even if we are certain that the boogie-man is just waiting to make his move, the very second our night-light goes out.