Afraid of the dark

I’ve always been afraid of the dark.

When I was little, my greatest fear was that a burglar or kidnapper or general bad guy would climb into our house through my bedroom window. I don’t know what I thought this bad guy would do at that point, but the fear of someone sneaking, in the darkness of the middle of the night, into the room I shared with my little sister was enough. At this age, my solution was to set up our bedroom so that my twin bed was directly under the window. Then, if the bad guy did get in, he’d probably hop right over my bed and not even notice me. (Sorry, sis.) Problem solved!

When I was a little older, I moved into a room of my own. The window in that room was huge, covering almost all of one wall, and looked out into the front yard and the street. In that room, it was the shadows of the trees outside my window, magnified by the outside lights, that freaked me out. My bed wound up next to the wall closest to the window so that I could at least roll over onto my side and close my eyes to try to ignore the creepy shadows that moved when the wind blew. What I imagined those shadows to be ranged from bad guys to wild animals to dinosaurs (thanks, Michael Crichton).

For some reason, the college apartment I shared with three other girls didn’t frighten me as much. My room was on the second floor of our little townhouse-style place, or maybe it was just that naive college-student mentality that I was awesome and nothing would ever hurt me. (Oh, if I could go back in time and lecture myself…)

When I got my first real job out of college, I was excited and terrified to rent a tiny one-bedroom apartment and live alone for the first time. I wound up adopting a cat to keep me company, but that’s another story. (Did you know that cats live FOR-EV-ER?) My apartment was nestled into a corner of the complex, on the second floor. I often left the TV and lights on at night to make it look like more than one person lived there, and of course I had my vicious cat to protect me from bad guys and dinosaurs.

Jump ahead a couple of years, I’m one-year married, and my husband and I decide to move away (my first time leaving my hometown). We both accepted jobs in South Florida, but I had to move right away to start my new position. He was still finishing up a semester of school, so I lived in our new place alone for about a month. I don’t think I slept much of that time. Between the police sirens I heard at night and my creepy neighbors, I came to dread the evenings and the darkness of night. I never left our place after sunset, scenes from Law & Order: SVU flashing through my mind. I convinced myself that I could be kidnapped in the grocery store parking lot. I slept in our guest bedroom because it was closest to the front door, and You’ve Got Mail played on a loop all night long on a tiny TV/VCR combo until my hubby and the rest of our stuff finally joined me.

These days, I’m secretly relieved that our older daughter leaves a bathroom light on at night because it means I can see light from our room, too. There’s something about being in total darkness that makes me panic. And now that I have two kids, and the accompanying responsibilities, and a job, and life to lie in bed pondering, the darkness brings not only fear, but worry. And when I worry, I don’t sleep. And when I don’t sleep, I turn into a crazy person, and my fears and worries become more irrational… you see where this is going.

For Christmas, my husband gave me a CD (yes, we still buy CDs) of Ellie Holcomb’s album As Sure As The Sun. I listened to it on repeat for weeks. It hasn’t left my van. All of her lyrics—rooted in Truth—speak to my heart, but those from “Night Song” resonate with me most:

Morning feels so far away, questions keeping me awake
Will you sing, sing your night song?
All these lies that are owning me, all this fear makes it hard to breathe
Will you be, be my night song?

The truth that sings into my darkness
The melody of love that leads me on
The voice that comforts all my sadness
Oh, even when the suffering is long, be my night song

Unmet longings steal my mind, calm my heart with your lullaby
Will you sing, sing your night song?
The sound of love surrounding me, promise that you will never leave
How I need, I need your night song

The truth that sings into my darkness
The melody of love that leads me on
The voice that comforts all my sadness
Oh, even when the suffering is long, be my night song

How I need to hear God’s lullaby at night—truth singing into my darkness! I wept in the car when this track played for the first time, because yes. I don’t need to lie in bed in the middle of the night, wide awake, consumed with fear and worry. His voice comforts all of my sadness. His melody of love chases away my irrational fears and leads me into peaceful sleep. He promises that He will never leave. His song calms my heart.

Fear is all-consuming when it goes unchecked. But when I call out to God for peace and calm on those restless nights? It goes. And I sleep.

 

You can listen to “Night Song” here. Music and lyrics by Ellie Holcomb, Christa Wells, and Nicole Witt. 

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