I stood at the open kitchen window sipping coffee in the warm morning light. I listened to birds happily chirping about the ceasing of spring showers and the freedom of warmer weather. I thought about all the happy time spent just beyond that glass playing with the sweet girl when she was a bit younger. We’d have picnics near her mini playground or I’d push her in her bear swing until my arms wore out. On long warm summer days she would play there while I went in and started dinner. We’d talk through the open window and I could watch her do all the incredible things kids do and want their parents to witness.
Childhood peace and parental joy was sacrificed over the last couple of years to legal efforts and obligations … separation, divorce, psychological, custody, and forensic evaluations, mandatory therapy visits, supervised visitation, reunification therapy, time spent preparing for court, gently nudging my daughter back in the direction of joy following each and every one of those traumatic experiences, homeschooling her to maintain some kind of stability, generating freelancing work and income so that we’d be available for all of this legally endorsed torture, and then finally literally collapsing to my knees and fracturing a cap, detaching my quadricep and patella tendon, surgical repair and rehab.
I sat in divorce court with a brace on my knee, crutches leaning up against a wall, and my foot propped up on a box of legal files. My ex, when questioned on the stand about his feelings during this process, said he felt “like he didn’t have a leg to stand on” and laughed. Could there be any clearer confirmation of an inability to empathize? And to do it under oath, sitting next to the Judge … what level of narcissism is it when you’re so proud of your wit that you believe your lack of a conscience will be overlooked.
No matter … because God used for good what was meant to harm (Genesis 50:20), honoring His promise that there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be known and illuminated (Luke 8:17). We are to delay judgement until the proper time … and allow God to bring to light what is hidden in the darkness and expose the motives in another person’s heart (1 Corinthians 4:5).
There is so much reassurance in the idea of light. Regardless of one’s beliefs, we all agree that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot extinguish it (John 1:5). Brene Brown says that “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
These moments I revisited on this morning … the overriding idea of opportunity lost, subsumed through the process, the pursuit of becoming unshackled … are the darkest of my life. I don’t believe looking back constitutes dwelling. I believe we can briefly revisit moments like these in reverence for present blessings and generate an overwhelming state of gratitude for how far we’ve come. I view these moments in retrospect with a heart full of humility in honor of the gift of the experience and awe of the beauty found in the ugliness and gratitude for what has been gained. I count it all joy, as James says, because if the trials have increased my faith and if my faith has allowed me to persevere and if that perseverance is producing spiritual maturity in me then sorrow will have swept me clean and prepared me for joy, cracked me open and created a place for the light to come in and drive out the darkness and that, my friends, makes me truly and completely free.