I used to be afraid of the dark. It wasn’t the idea of being in my room without light that caused me to be afraid. It was what I began to think once the light lessened. I wasn’t mature enough to tackle the thoughts and I was seemingly too young to have the thoughts in the first place.
I couldn’t seem to find an answer between who #God was and how He was so consistently benevolent when I was living with an appetite that wasn’t healthy for a young girl. I had a wardrobe closet whose doors were made of mirrors and because I was afraid of what I think I’d see in the middle of the night, in avoidance, I asked my father to remove the doors so I could see inside the closet and control what I knew I was looking at. I decided one night to unplug the nightlight and threw glow in the dark stars on my ceiling believing that if I could manage the type of light then I was also growing up. It was not the truth and I became comfortable lying to myself about being afraid of the dark.
The truth is I was afraid of confronting what I was uncomfortable with about myself—the way I allowed my friendships to define me, how I shrunk in the presence of others who were seemingly more powerful than me, the agreements I gave to others with my silence, and the incessant fear I carried that were I to speak up, I would be criticized and abandoned.
These lightbulbs flickered for me when my daughter, in a single day, remained silent about a mess she made for fear that I would be upset that she made a mistake and refused to sleep in her room for fear of the dark. I couldn’t pin where her experience of fear came from because she hasn’t been on this earth for but a moment and although children do have real fears, these felt closely familiar to me. They were intimate and known by her in a way I don’t raise her to be.
I gave her a bath and explained that she should never feel as if she has to be silent about where she has erred because there are no expectations for perfection in our house. I also told her that while I understand her fear of the dark, she was well shielded and there was nothing for her to worry about. I assured her that we would pray together to invite God to where we were because He loves protecting us. She agreed and we rubbed oil on our heads and prayed.
I sought God for a spirit of might and strength. I commanded an ability to part every sea that looked taller than the both of us. I asked God to brighten Himself in our darkest spaces, deliver to us His confidence that we might not ever question His plan and promise, and quell our discomforts and our fears, holding back every enemy that stands in opposition to Him. The young girl who I knew years before motherhood, began to stand up in me, while my little girl eased her breathing. We were both being released from the part of me that I never let die. I didn’t realize my fears went viral in her DNA. I didn’t know that I was still in need of being delivered from the little me that tucked herself in corners to #write and #create. I didn’t know I was still holding onto her hand unwilling to let her go for fear that I’d fail at birthing what He placed in me to #parent. I didn’t know that me holding her hostage was also holding her hostage.
She fell asleep in my arms as I prayed, my tears trickling from my face to the roots of her plaited hair. I couldn’t let go of the idea that she was my mirror. I finally found the little girl that I was afraid to look at before. Only this time, she gets to look back and know that she has no reason to be afraid of the dark.