When Mom Lives in the Shadows

Originally published Tuesday, 29 May 2012.


I had the opportunity to have my photo taken in Orlando, Florida a few weeks ago at the beautiful headquarters of Campus Crusade for Christ. In addition to watching for gators (a very real threat I'm told), I also found myself seeing the beauty of the last light of the day in a new way. I've always admired those beautiful backlit photos where the people look like they're glowing, I just never really saw it myself until Orlando.

As Stacey Thacker and her family gave me a sunset tour of Crusade, Mike, her husband, directed my gaze toward the horizon. There before me was something us mountain dwellers have rare occasion to see. The light was nothing short of remarkable. No mountains blocked it. No hills kept it from view. I turned a complete 360 and realized that everywhere I looked there was light. And I was stunned...and also hooked on beautiful light.

When I arrived back in my mountains I started an intense search for light, and a couple of things occurred to me immediately.

  1. The mountains block the horizon, casting some parts of my area in a warm, beautiful light, and others in deep, dark shadows. There's a patch of wild flowers in my back yard that only get the intense, brilliant mid-morning light. I've watched them for a week now hoping to catch them in a softer light, only to realize that it's not going to happen.
  2. I'm going to have to chase the light. I'm bound and determined to study the lay of the land around my home and find the best light there is during each season. If I want to make photos that showcase the light, it's going to require work, time, and intense study.

Secrets and Shadows

Ever since that day in Florida I've been pondering the light. Not just looking hard for it through my camera, but thinking about the significance of light in the life of an every day woman seeking after God. Here's what I've found:

Just as my beautiful mountains block the sun in some parts of my area, causing shadows to fill my camera's frame, so secrets block God's ability to shine the light of freedom in our souls.

For the first few years after the births of my sons I was convinced that I was a terrible mother. I went to bed many nights in tears knowing that I hadn't been the kind of mom I wanted to be that day. I was struggling to manage my home, struggling to love my children well, and struggling to keep a reign on my emotions and moods.

But I never asked for help.

Convinced that if anyone knew the reality of my home life they would be shocked, I kept it all a secret. I smiled on Sunday, prayed at Bible study on Tuesday, and worked hard to make everyone think life was good, when in fact, it wasn't. I began to think things like:

"I'm the only one whose children act this way."
"There must be something wrong with me. Why can't I get my children to obey?"
"Maybe it's just my kids? Maybe there's something really wrong with them?"
"This isn't the life I dreamed of."

And I kept it all inside, thinking that maybe, just maybe I could figure things out on my own and no one would ever have to know how hard it all was for me.

Then one night things came to a head. I ended up in a snotty heap on my front porch begging my husband to bring me beer and cigarettes. I had come to the end of myself and knew something had to give.

I'm happy to report that instead of choosing something negative, I chose to share my secrets. I allowed Jesus to move me from the shadows, where I couldn't see His light and freedom, to that place of beautiful, glimmering light. I call it the place of hope. The place where we get a glimpse of the freedom that can be ours when we take down the walls and no longer allow the secrets to have power over us.

Because secrets do have power.

They make us believe we're the only ones. That no one has it quite as bad as we do. That no one struggles quite like us. And friends, it just isn't true.

Jesus said it like this:

"I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness." ~ John 12:46

I don't know if you believe it, but the truth is that God doesn't want you or me to remain in the darkness. It's cold in there, lonely, and hard to see the face of the one Who's trying to woo you into the warm, beautiful light. It's why He sent His Son—so that you and I don't have to be controlled by shame and secrets ever again. We can step out into the light, open the door to our hearts, and let the freedom God longs for us to have move in our hearts like the breeze through our hair.

Are you cold in the shadows friend? Shivering with shame? Trembling under the weight of your secret? What's one thing you can do today that will help you take a step toward a brighter spot? My wildflowers don't have the choice to move into softer light, you do.
Don't miss part 2 of this post, How to Chase the Light.
Brooke McGlothlin is a a writer, word-prayer, photo-maker, and boy-raiser who knows that if God doesn’t show up, nothing happens. She's the mom of two young boys who leave her desperate for God’s grace, and is married to the man she’s had a crush on since the third grade. She’s the Editor and Co-founder of the MOB Society (FOR moms of boys, BY moms of boys), author of Warrior Prayers: Praying the Word for Boys in the Areas They Need it MostHope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess, and creator of the 21 Days of Prayer for Sons. You can find her writing at her personal blog, Surprised By Life.