We all have a light inside of us, a light that engulfs our souls and shines through us by the grace of God. The light in us is what puts a smile on our lips and keeps us going each day. It’s a part of who we are, the special qualities that make us unique. When you become depressed or struggle with mental illness, the light becomes hidden behind a dark cloud. A person who is ill is so blinded by his or her sadness that he or she feels like the light has gone out and forgets who and what it is that makes him or her special.
When I was depressed, I thought the person I was had died and all that was left was a dark, lonely, and hopeless shell. I thought God had abandoned me. Whatever it was that made me smile, laugh, feel joy, and made me who I am was blanketed by my deep anguish and sadness. There was no more light left in me to shine. Nothing could shine through the pitch black that encompassed my inner being. I thought it was useless to try to look for the light that once was within me. It was gone. I was gone. I was no longer myself.
I couldn’t see beyond my illness. I couldn’t even remember what it felt like to be happy. What did a smile feel like? What special qualities made me who I am? Who was I? I had nothing to look forward to but more days and nights stuck at the bottom of my hole. How could God make me a person and take away everything that made me who I am? How could he turn the light of my being out?
Blaming God was easy. I had to have someone to blame. He gave me this sickness, didn’t he? He put the light in me and he just as easily took it away. What did I do wrong for him to punish me with total darkness?
What I later learned was that the light within me never went out. It was there the whole time. I just couldn’t see it or feel it. God never allowed it to fade. He kept it shining, because he knew in time I would find it again and it would glow brighter and stronger than before.
In my recovery process God whispered to me, “Let your light shine.”
I turned to him and asked, “How Lord? How do I let it shine when you turned it off?”
“It’s still in you. Look deep and hard and you’ll find it. Let it shine for everyone to see,” God replied.
So I went on a search for my light. In the hospital I read the Bible, I started journaling, and I participated in therapy. I soon realized that God may not always work miracles, but he gives us tools to help ourselves. So I found those tools. I started therapy, got on medication, and prayed for guidance.
I looked deep inside me. I did some serious soul searching. I found that I was still me. I had never died. I was just hidden behind my illness. I had to look beyond my illness and find my light. How could I let my light shine beyond my illness? I listed the special qualities that made me who I am such as I’m kind hearted, I’m a good listener, I’m a fighter, I’m loving, and I’m a dreamer. So how could I let those qualities shimmer? How could I let my light shine once again?
First, I worked on changing my negative thoughts, I asked God into my life, I began to fight my illness, and I began to rediscover myself. In time I found not only my light, but a whole new me.
If you feel as if your light has gone out, look beyond your illness and you’ll find it’s still there. Use the tools God has given you to reach recovery and let your light shine. Turn to friends and family for help. Get therapy and, if needed, take your medication. Rediscover yourself, find the positive in your life, and do something kind for yourself or for someone else. In time your light will shine brighter than ever.
Now that I have reached recovery, my light shines brighter. My light still sometimes gets pushed aside by my illness, but with God’s help and determination, I find it and I let it shine. Because I allow the light to shine within me, I stand within the light of recovery and within God’s light.