This poem is written in the “villanelle* form. I wrote it as a reminder to myself of how hard the darkness of depression can be so that I don’t lose my compassion for those in my world who are struggling to find the Light. But it is also a reminder that the Light of Christ does shine in that darkness, however faintly, and will never be extinguished. If you feel oppressed by the darkness, seek His Light.
The light shines in the darkness Faintly I see His light My need I will confess
Toward the light I press Keeping hope in my sight The light shines in the darkness
Despair my soul’s distress Entangled in the night My need I will confess
His grace I will profess Giving me the strength to fight The light shines in the darkness
I feel anguish oppress Crushing with all its might My need I will confess
Feeling His love’s caress Compassion burning bright The light shines in the darkness My need I will confess
* vil·la·nelle, [vil-uh-nel]
a short poem of fixed form, written in tercets, usually five in number,
followed by a final quatrain, all being based on two rhymes.
Sometimes it seems like bruises are part of life’s gift package to us.
Dancers are some of the most talented people I know. Their gracefulness can be seen both on and off the stage. A dancer’s training is far from easy. But by choosing to become dancers they have made a decision to absorb pain.
Their toes and feet are blistered and bruised; they take constant abuse. Some live with chronic tendonitis. Their feet bleed sometimes, and pain is their constant companion, but they still choose to dance.
Two things to consider.
They choose to dance. Dancers must operate with an iron will and an elegant grace. I suppose that is why they can dance the way they do. They have painfully blended the two.
The scars and bruises often become “badges of honor.” They would rather dance in pain, than not dance at all.
I once heard someone describe depression as having a mental bruise. I think I might understand.
As one prone to depression, I know what it is like to bury myself in my bed for weeks at a time. My own mental bruise was simply more than I could take. There was a sensation of sinking into blackness, a sense of total and complete despair. I felt lost and completely alone.
I prayed. I groaned, and I prayed again.
My sense of being totally lost in sad, dark thoughts was beyond comprehension. Dear reader, this was something quite real, and you must become aware of these things. Some of your friends are suffering, and it is often a hellish and desperate depression.
We would never say that diabetics are that way because of the enemy. The dark one will surely exploit it, but I think you give him far too much credit if you suggest he was able to initiate it. I don’t think Satan has the spiritual “voltage.”
I refuse to hide my mental bruises from those who share my pain. I will make the choice to dance. I’m bruised, but I will try to ignore the pain. I would exult in my God, walk in His love, and “leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture” (Malachi 4:2.)
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”
1-3 God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.
4 Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
5 You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
6 Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.
Psalm 23, Message
The Lord wants to escort you to someplace wonderful, it’s where there is a rich rest and a sweet intimacy– in spite of fierce conflict. Everything you need is revealed in Psalm 23, and it’s beautiful.
It is more than good poetry. It’s a way of life.
There is a preciousness just beyond our ‘status quo.’ It is abundant life for eternity. When you have apprehended it, you will understand what I am talking about, and wonder why you’ve missed it for so long. Eternal life has already begun even though many of us don’t walk as if it did. We have eternal life, right here—right now!
There is a place which we can enter where Jesus is all there is.
His dear presence pervades everything, and there is no doubt about His lordship. He rules completely, and He is “all-in-all.” A believer who is filled with the Holy Spirit knows this.
There’s evidence when you have appropriated this deeper life. There will be a surrender of all you have, and you will fully understand what it truly means to be His follower and part of Jesus’flock. There will be a complete renunciation of all rights to yourself. With an insurmountable joy, you will give it all up just to walk with Him.
Live on earth as if you’ve already died, and are now living in heaven with Him.
There must be a definite place to turn your rights over to Him. Perhaps His love has already pressed you into this. Often there will be disillusionment and cynicism about this planet and its ugly ways. You want to escape all its dullness and jadedness. You will step into ‘life-effervescent.’ He intends to walk you through many issues, but if He is close I will suggest you trust Him fully.
If you struggle with a mental illness: clinical depression, bipolar, anxiety issues, or schizophrenia, I want to reassure you, that you are not a “lesser” Christian. And my comments include you. You are not on the ‘scrap heap’ of the Spirit. In so many ways, you can enter in while ordinary people will struggle. And you do need to step into this and discover a life worth living.
A “Psalm 23 life” is yours for the asking. Take it up, humbly and true. It’s your birthright to be with your Shepherd forever.
Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in a deep, dark valley. Often it feels more like a narrow slot canyon where no sunshine can reach.
The Narrows slot canyon at Zion National Park is 18 miles long and if you want to walk up it you’re in the water—often very deep water, with a strong current and rocky bottom—all the way. It’s not for the weak or faint of heart.
My husband and I hiked part of the way up the Narrows last summer. There was no way I could make it the full 18 miles. Even the mile we did trek was almost too much for me. My wristband that says “I can and I will” reminded me of the hope I needed to make it back downriver.
Life itself isn’t for the faint of heart.
It’s impossible without hope. Thankfully, hope never dies. And God never leaves us alone.
David reminds us in Psalm 23 that no matter how dark the slot canyon of life becomes, we are not alone. We must always remember these words, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me.” We are only walking through the dark valley and on our darkest days, hope is there.
So if you find yourself today walking in darkness, unable to see the light, keep walking. Even if you can barely muster a crawl, keep moving forward through the dark valley. You can and you will reach the other side. And when you do, you’ll find hope was there all along.
My valley of the shadow of death lasted more than seven years.
At the time, I felt all hope was lost. But looking back I can see that my Savior never left me. Hope never died, dim though it was.
I pray you may one day look back and see that hope has never left you either.