Where to Find Friendship, Love, and Light in Dark Times
By Maria Vermeulen
My family, friends, and I often refer to my first couple of years living in NYC as “dark times.” A ten-years-ago Facebook memory flashes back to a version of myself a bit adrift: “dark times.” A relative mentions a wedding, holiday, or another significant occasion that I missed: “dark times.” Someone recalls the relationship that consumed me during those first two years, or any number of the bridges I burned in the midst of it: “dark times.” Ironically, we say “dark times” to try to make light of a phase I often wish I could black out entirely. But then I remind myself that sometimes we have to experience darkness in order to recognize light.
UNDERSTANDING THE DARKNESS
What made my first two years in NYC seem so dark was that I had isolated myself within a relationship that only seemed to thrive when I rejected either those who loved me the most or the things that I most loved. I’m no matchmaker, but I can confidently write here that anyone who discourages us from chasing the dreams, cultivating the talents, clinging to the values, or cherishing the relationships that we feel called to chase, cultivate, cling to, and cherish is not a great match. These types of relationships send us spiraling into darkness as we lose sight of ourselves, and then tunnel downward through rabbit holes of anxiety and despair, hoping to find them again.
I know this sounds heavy, but that’s what darkness can feel like. It can feel simultaneously heavy and all-consuming, but in reality, it's just a space waiting to be filled.
And that’s where Jesus is.
FILLING THE DARKNESS WITH LIGHT
If we’re struggling to turn directly toward Jesus as our light source, we can start by turning toward the people and communities he guided us to. He’s in the people that we find once we acknowledge our darkness and seek his light. He’s the voice that whispers through our depression, anxiety, and heartbreaks that we’re not alone; rather, we’re in a city filled with people whose faith and desires complement the ones he instilled in us. He’s in the people we meet through pursuing the gifts and talents that inspired us to reside in this incredible city. He’s everywhere here. Our part is to ensure we don’t isolate ourselves from him and the relationships he uses to bring us back into the light.