I’ll sit with you in the dark

I’ll sit with you in the dark

Ever found yourself in a dark place? A simple state of sadness can throw you in such a place. At least l experience that often.

I used to be depressed, severely depressed, the kind of state that makes it hard for facial muscles to react to other people’s joyful interaction. Know the feeling?

Another indicator I find that confirms my sadness is when I walk through the yard after dark with the lights out: the dark strikes you even darker as it merges with the sadness inside, despite a wonderfully star-lit sky.

I often feel peace looking up at the stars. The sight of them makes me feel as if I’m in the company of close friends and closer to where I belong.

In my understanding, sadness happens as a reaction in our social living. A tone of voice can often be the simple trigger for sadness in the sensitive heart. Or maybe a broken relationship, or the absence of a loved one, can easily be the causes for sadness that will throw you in a dark place.

I’ve learnt not to ignore my sadness but it wasn’t always like this. Over time I learnt to acknowledge my inner state and act on it with some self-care actions. Washing my hair often helps. Or trimming my nails. These are very simple daily actions that can have an impact on how I feel. Do you have your own self-care actions sorted out for the darker days?

I often think of the time I find myself in the dark as a time of fasting. Not that I actually fast the sadness away but my state of sadness is equivalent to fasting.

In a way it makes sense as sadness prevents you from engaging in day to day joyful fuzziness. It’s a kind of emotional fasting.

The Bible’s advice for such days of fasting includes self-care actions.

But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:17-18

However forced and uninformed you may think my reading of the Bible is, it can’t do us wrong to know, maybe even feel, that God is looking after us in the lesser days, when one might feel put aside and alone in one’s state of mind.

I find comfort in knowing God is looking after me, He is there washing my hair with me, giving me the strength to care for myself and eventually changing the darkness in my heart.

And then there is a promise: He will reward you. Do you find that a change in the heart is a small thing to achieve? If so, you probably haven’t found the joy of renewed strength. But you will.

When I was depresssd I used to feel empty and I worried that I wasn’t living with God in my heart. Later I realized that God is always with us even when we don’t feel connected to Him. Specially when we don’t feel connected with Him, I would dare saying .

I thought that because I myself rejected my negative feelings, that God rejected them too, but I was wrong. He welcomes our difficult states of mind.

Furthermore, negative feelings are not a reflection of God’s disapproval . He is like a good hearted friend that promises to sit with us in the dark.

I’ll sit with you in the dark

Lewis Carrol in his work Alice in Wonderland, immortalized the following words:

“When you can’t look on the bright side, I’ll sit with you in the dark “

I often take these words as something that God would say to me. He’s that generous and more.

The Bible has even a stronger statement of God’s presence with us through the dark.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4

I’m often in the dark not only with sadness but because I suffer the effects of anxiety related to my schizophrenia. This is a very different kind of darkness, it’s often a loss of my ability to reason that causes me not to think straight without a lot of effort, even pain. That’s usually when fear hits too.

As it happens often, I like to be around places where I feel safe, where I can just sit and lean my head or lay down comfortably in order to release the strain more easily.

Are you able to lay down when you’re unwell without a guilty feeling? That’s a good thing. Sometimes carers insist on the importance of keeping active but there are times when you really do better to just stay put, lay down and relax.

When I lose my reasoning I feel great comfort in having a trusted person around, that can check up on me if the crisis settles in for longer than expected.

While I wait for the trouble to pass, I like to be visited by two kinds of thoughts: one, that the sun always shines after a long dark night, two, that there are limits for the intensity of one’s feelings or ideas.

In the end, I’m limited in my own capacity to feel pain. I believe that if happiness is often such a momentaneous feeling, then such limitation exists also for that which causes us suffering.

It’s not easy to go through darkness unattended . It helps if you have someone around to keep you company. Someone that you bond with with a link of trust.

God has provided that for me, although it’s a bit awkward to rely on one’s mother for company after adulthood. I feel the sting of pride sometimes. But I prefer to see heaven’s work in my life than to keep my pride intact. The spiritual path is indeed very narrow for my pride inflated self.

“When you can’t look on the bright side, I’ll sit with you in the dark”.

Here’s a statement that I take with awe every time. The dark can keep you from even allowing someone by your side. That’s ok if you live in harmony with yourself, but it’s different if the cause for your solitude is a reluctant heart, if you find it difficult to choose between being alone and being in the company of another.

Maybe you think you’re better off alone. Sometimes I do too. But unless the company is toxic, it is preferable that someone sits by you in the dark. That way the dark will not be as dark.

When the crises are through, I usually spend some time journaling. I found that to be a very helpful habit because it helps me escape the tension of my own thoughts and feelings. I discharge them while writing them down. Would you like to try that sometime?

Through journaling, while analyzing my emotions, I found the value of being patient and letting someone in my heart. There is much wisdom to such attitude. In fact, the Bible points in that direction.

“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

God himself awaits for an opportunity to approach us with tenderness and care. He aims at keeping our emotions in good shape. Would you find it s strange thing to talk to your emotions in order to understand them?

Here’s hoping you can remember that God is with you when you feel alone and in the dark.

Questions to answer

  1. What is the best attitude towards negative emotions?
  2. When does the acknowledgment and acceptance of negative emotions become an emotional tool to be used for better health?
  3. In what way are our habits of thought and behavior molding our emotional life?

Further Reading

Please. No Fixing, Advising, Saving or Straightening Out

Sitting Shiva is to say ‘I am with you’

Embracing the Pain and Finding the Christ light

Sónia Monteiro

Sónia Monteiro

Sónia was born and raised in central Portugal, in a small village next to the city of Coimbra, where she attended the University studying Journalism. She got severely ill with depression before she could finish her studies. This would be the beginning of a long journey towards the cure. While she was able to come out of the depression, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia almost twenty years later.

In the meantime, she has worked as a caretaker for ill and elderly people. Recently she had to stop her activity due to complications of her illness but had the opportunity to pursue an undergraduate degree in Modern Languages, including English.

Photo by Alex Vinogradov on Unsplash

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