Today we came home and Little Man took some groceries to the basement and called me to come and see. There are mushrooms growing through the cracks in the basement floor. And he asks me what I’m going to do, like I’m supposed to know.
But I don’t.
And I keep finding Sunshine’s socks in my wash. I don’t know how it happens. Like mushrooms, they appear in the pile of dirty laundry, reminding me that she is gone.
Today there are mushrooms growing in all kinds of dark places. Whispering things that I know aren’t true. I’m not good enough. I’m not strong enough. I’m not patient enough. I’m not brave enough. I’m just…not enough. They grow there, in the dark places. They flourish in the shadows of the things I believe about myself.
And it all seems too much, all piled there in my basement, the socks and the mushrooms and the mushroom thoughts, and I just want to cry.
We live in a world where people fail. Mothers. Fathers. Husbands. Wives. Friends. Even our own bodies. They can all be broken. And I wish it wasn’t so. Even as I celebrate the joys of my days, I know that I wouldn’t be living this life if the broken hadn’t happened first. I know that hosting and adoption and all of it, all of the loving hurting people, the dear ones who become family, it only happens because they are hurt first. And sometimes that dichotomy of pain and happiness, it just shatters me.
And I wish that it didn’t have to be that way. I wish that the shadow of mushroom thoughts and dark places wouldn’t linger. But I cannot pretend that I don’t struggle sometimes. The dark clings. It soaks into the bones. It makes me so weary. Ever so weary. My path has wound through hard places, and I can’t unfeel the things I felt there.
Sometimes when we are in the dark, the mushroom thoughts expand and fill our vision. Some days, they might cover the land as far as we can see. And it can feel so daunting and overwhelming.
But underneath, the roots are shallow. They are not real truth. No, the real truths are still there. They lay, rock solid, beneath the surface. They are truths like mercy, and grace made new each day, and bravery that does not have to be carried alone. They exist because there is One who grieves with us.
In the dark places, those real truths are creating something much more precious. Under all the pressure, they produce precious jewels. And those jewels, they are beautiful, and so very dear when we find them. Others might see them and marvel at the end result, but we know what they cost. We know what pain we went through to hold this little thing. And it is the pain that often makes the marveling so much sweeter.
So when I find myself in dark places, I can choose to look at the mushroom thoughts proliferating across the surface, or I can choose to dig and look for the truth underneath. It’s not always easy. I need the Light that shines, that points me to the jewels. And I need to uproot and to wrestle. Because I know that it is in the Light that real truth and real treasure can be found. And the Light, it never stops shining. It can survive my railing and my exhaustion and my questions and my tears. It shines on those, too, and points me to the truth that regenerates hearts.
Some days, I turn around, and the shadow is there. Mushroom thoughts have been growing, and they loom large and threaten to overcome me. And I am undone. Other days, I have more energy for the dig, and I find the jewels quickly. But no matter the day, my attitude doesn’t change the fact that the truths are still there. My frustration or anger or weariness with mushroom thoughts can never put out the Light pointing me to the things that really matter.
And so I wash those socks, and figure out how to get rid of the real mushrooms in my basement. And I dig in and I wrestle some more with the mushroom thoughts.
But I know I don’t have to kill them all on my own. I don’t have to be brave, not really. I don’t have to be strong. I don’t have to pretend I’m not broken. I don’t have to fight alone. I just need to keep looking to where the Light shines, and listening for the truth. The dark might linger for a while, but it will never prevail. Here in this life, regret lives alongside of deep satisfaction, and grief abides with joy. But it won’t always be that way. Someday, the Light will completely overcome the darkness.
Until then, I just need to keep digging and counting the jewels that I find each day.