If you must take a step into the darkness of the unknown, believe one of two things will happen…either you will find something solid to stand on, or you will be taught to fly. — Patrick Overton
Not too long ago I was flipping through the menu on TV and came across a movie called Real Women Have Curves. As I watched the movie, I realized that often times our best laid plans go awry. Life has a way of throwing us curves that can easily send us spiralling into total darkness. Maybe it’s the sudden and unexpected loss of a job and the financial security that brings. Maybe it’s the loss of someone close to us. Maybe it’s a doctor’s report that brings news of an incurable disease. Whatever the curve, it can, and often does, send us into a darkness that scares the hell out of us.
As humans, we are really good about planning and plotting our lives down to the tiniest bit of minutia. Even those of us who are a little less “organized” find ourselves with benchmarks (to use a phrase from the Iraq debate) and goal posts to help keep us on track. So, when life does what it does best, we find ourselves at a loss how to react.
Around the time Paris hit 6 he developed a very real fear of the dark. Perhaps it was natural for a 6 year old (thankfully he’s pretty much grown out of that fear). He needed hand-holding and lots of affirmation when faced with the long hall after dark. Even today he doesn’t want his closet door open at night. The unknown is scary!
If you think about it though, we never really outgrow that fear of darkness, of the unknown. When things happen that are unexpected, we can easily fall apart. Just this past week, I was out for jog. As I enjoyed the beautiful Southern California weather and the ocean breezes, I came upon a lot of police activity. Curiosity took the best of me (I’ve been told I’m too nosy for my own good) and I got as close as I could to see what was going on. At the front of one of the historic older apartment buildings that grace my fair city was parked a police cruiser. Nothing exciting about that! One of the best little coffee shops around is housed on the first floor of that particular building and often I’ve gone by and seen police cars parked in front. As I got closer though, I noticed something odd about the roof of the car. It was all smashed in. And that’s when I saw it…a leg protruding over the side of the car. A coroner’s van pulled up and before long, the body was carted away, the police cruiser towed to a repair facility and life went back to normal. The next morning I grabbed my local edition of the paper and saw that the story had made the front page news. It seems a 40 year old man had grown dispondant about something in his life and had thrown himself off his 11th floor balconey. Lost in thought, I wondered just exactly what kind of curve life had thrown this man that caused him to permanently check out. Had the darkness been so overwhelming that he just couldn’t do it?
One of my favorite scriptures is from the book of Jeremiah:
I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.
I’ve been thinking about that verse alot recently. Yes, life throws us curves and since those curves are often outside of the scope of what we have planned for they can send us spiraling into this dark place where it would be easy to loose our bearing. When faced with these moments of uncertainty, of darkness, it is comforting to know that our Creator knows our name and our number and has a plan for us.
Sure, sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but stepping into the unknown doesn’t have to be scary. Perhaps Patrick Overton got it right when he said that when we must take this step (because often times we don’t have a choice), we’ve got to have a little bit of faith and KNOW that underneath us is still solid ground or even better, a flight instructor.
The moments of darkness, while they seem like an eternity, often only last for a little while and most the time, when we look back we are amazed at where those moments have brought us. Knowing that during those moments of darkness there is solid ground under our feet, even when we can’t see it, is a great encouragement! As my journey starts to take new direction with lots of blind curves and it’s fair share of darkness, I have been finding that when the path has dropped out beneath me, I’ve been learning to fly.