Sunday, January 12, 2014

From night to day

One of the things I like about the weekend is that I actually get to see Daylight. During these winter months, it is dark when I go to work and it is dark when I get home so I rarely get to see the sun shine. Fortunately, the days are getting a bit longer each day and in just a few months, it will be light enough in the mornings to enjoy my coffee outdoors and in the evenings to take a walk or a bike ride. Sometime we have to endure periods of darkness so that we truly appreciate the light. Until then, I’ll just enjoy what little daylight I get to experience.

I have a big spotlight that shines outside the back window, so even in the wee hours of the night, I get to see the deer and other critters feeding in the yard and/or watch the gently falling snow. This is dusk-to-dawn spotlight that is bright enough to light up the entire yard. Yesterday morning, I was camped out on my lazy boy chair enjoying a cup of coffee and watching the night turn into day. As the dawn crept in, the birds soon followed, and were feeding even before daylight. They must be very hungry these days as food is scarce. In any case, as I was looking out the window, I watched as the spotlight went from “on” to “off” signaling the end of night and beginning of a new day. It didn’t do it gradually, but just in an instant, the day was bright enough to shine on its own and the light went out.

I pondered that moment throughout the day yesterday and thought about all of the times in my life when I experienced that “light going out” and “the light going on”, sometimes without any warning.  The light went out in my life that August night in 1991 when I was in my 20’s and I received a knock on the door in the middle of the night telling me that my mother had died unexpectedly. The light went out when I came back from Christmas vacation in 2003 and was told that my job at the church would end in June, again completely unexpected. The light went out when I got the diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and was told that there is no cure but it could be managed with medication. Over and over throughout our life, we get news, encounter troubles, experience tragedy, hardship, weather, illness….you name it….. where the “light” in our world just goes out without warning. In a blink of an eye, we can go from light to dark and vice-versa.  Fortunately, in those times of darkness, I have a God that carries me through and lights the way.

Likewise, there have been multiple occasions when the “light just went on”; again sometimes instantaneously. In the classroom, I experienced it multiple times when a student would suddenly just “get it” and finally understood a concept I was trying to teach. As a student myself, I experienced the same thing. In my relationships and friendships, I experienced it when I, or others, finally understood that “when I/you do this….I/you feel that….” ­­and the relationship was saved or improved by a change in behavior. ­­­­Each time I experience the death of a loved one or friend, the “light goes  out and then on” when I remind myself that Life is so incredibly short and I need/want to cherish each day as a gift from God.  I’m sure that you can think of dozens of other times, professionally and personally, when the light went on, and suddenly “you could see” the situation as it was and knew what needed to be done.

Often times, there is a “light bulb” moment that prompts a major life change. In terms of addiction, it could be a DUI arrest, a job loss, or a broken relationship that finally prompts the person to change.  Perhaps it is a health scare, a cancer diagnosis, a death of a loved one that leads someone to give up smoking. Often a heart attack, diabetes, or another serious medical issue  launches one on a weight loss journey. For each person, that moment when the “light goes on” is different and occurs only when the person is truly ready for a change.

I’m often asked what prompted me to begin my journey; what was my “aha moment” if you will. Unlike many, it wasn’t a health scare; it wasn’t a doctor’s warning that I could die; it wasn’t a moment of life or death.  In fact, I can’t even truly understand WHAT it was, which is primarily why I call this entire journey a miracle. It’s true that my life sucked; that I was in complete physical and emotional pain; that I was  unable to walk or stand up long enough to brush my teeth.  Yes, it’s true that I was at rock-bottom and was completely miserable. But I had been that way for months, even years.  I wish I knew EXACTLY what it was that clicked in my head at about 6 pm on March 1, 2011. I don’t know, but I do know that in an instant….just like that….without warning, without thought, without an explanation, after a rather tense conversation with my sister,  I changed my life….just like that!

Over the course of this journey, I spent a lot of time thinking about that moment and I’ve shared before on multiple occasions, that there were a series of events and conversations that happened in the six weeks prior to my “light bulb” moment. My grandmother’s death, the loss of two teeth, a conversation with a new hair stylist and my rheumatologist, and seeing the number on the scale for the first time in years, all planted the seeds, that would finally take root when I had that tense conversation with my sister about her pending bariatric surgery. No one particular moment; no planned diet or weight loss plan; no ideas or hopes of losing weight; no intention to change……nothing dramatic…..but yet, God used each of those moments to shed a little more light into my dark world, and like the dawn each morning, it finally became bright enough so that I COULD SEE that there was a different way to live. The Light went on…..And in that moment….I knew that I did not want….nor did I have to….live in the darkness of obesity, compulsive eating, immobility any more. (Plus, I wanted to show my sister that I could do it!!!!) 

You know, this is why I truly believe that I am a miracle; that God turned my darkness to day.  This is why I am so grateful each day to have life, even when the ‘dark, difficult times” threaten to rob me of my joy. Even when I experience grief and loss (gosh, so many times this past year); even when I experience temptation (gosh, I’m constantly hungry these days); even when I experience pain (RA sucks and will never go away and my toes/feet are numb 24 hours a day).  Just like in nature; there is darkness followed by day followed by darkness and so forth. But, just like my back yard light; when it gets too dark, the road gets too long; the burden gets too heavy, my faith, my God, my friends (you) shed light in the darkness so that I may “see.”  I want to do that for you as well. I want to help you in any way to find your way out of darkness, to shed light on your path, to help you “see” that there is always hope and that life will not always be like it is today.

And so today….as I sit here on this early Sunday morning, waiting for the sun to rise, I think of you and I pray for you on your journey, and I hope this day that “the light goes on” and you begin to see things in a new way.

 I ask you today…….what was your “light bulb” aha moment? Please share it with us so that we, too, may see; that your story may brighten our way; that we may have hope.  Make it a good day everyone and SHINE BRIGHTLY!!!!