Light in the darkness

Aging.  I am not doing it nearly as gracefully as I would like to.  I have developed wrinkles, gray hairs, gained weight, and my body itself has had more surgeries and procedures since I hit 40, than any other time in my entire life.  I will admit, it is vain, but it is the truth. I hate every part of it.  I jiggle in places that used to be toned and firm.  I sag in places that used to be lifted.  I have a mom-bod, with stretch marks, c-section scars, appendectomy scars, and cholecystectomy scars. I can however change some of that.  I can exercise, make better food choices, take care of my skin and color my hair. I am 43, a widow, a wife, a mom, an aunt, a daughter, a granddaughter and a friend.

I am more than my looks, my body, my skin.  What I have learned in these years that got my physical self to where I am today, I would never change!  I wouldn’t have 3 healthy babies without the c-section scars.  The wrinkles around my eyes come from lots of laughter and lots of tears. The scars from surgeries kept me from being very sick.  I have been through a lot of hard times in these 43 years.  It would be easy to get bogged down in all the sadness, in all the hurt and in all the loss.  But I refuse to wallow in the poop and keep myself covered in it.  I chose to get up and wash it off daily and continue to live.   I won’t lie, I have struggled with depression and anxiety. It started with postpartum depression, and then the toll of Adam’s cancer diagnosis and death.  I take medication.  I have to.  Not because I need it to be happy, but because there is a chemical imbalance in my brain that needs it. It doesn’t make feelings of sadness completely go away.  It helps me to keep going everyday.  I tried to go off my medication after Matt and I married because I was in such a good place.  I didn’t like how I felt without it.  The anxiety of being a mom to 5 kids and taking care of our family was hard and stressful. I need my medication to keep me grounded and feeling like the world isn’t falling apart with I drop a ball! I want to put this out there for anyone struggling to ask for help. For the person that thinks that being a good christian means that you should be able to find that happiness and joy from God.  You can.  But sometimes you need help. Professional help.  God has called people to become doctors and therapists, they are here to help.  Talk to someone, ask for help.  Do not let the fear and stigma of mental health keep you from living the fullest life possible.

Living this life has given my all my scars, gray hairs, jiggles, sagging and wrinkles.  I will take them.  I will try to take this whole aging process in stride and to be as graceful as possible in the midst of it.  I will continue to live, laugh, cry, hope, help and fight. I still seek Him everyday.  I chose joy everyday. Somedays are harder than others.  Do not give up.  Do not lose hope.  Do not ignore your feelings.  They are valid and real. Do not let the darkness overcome the beautiful light within you.  Let your light shine! I will be thankful in all of it.  I will continue to try and be a light in the darkness.  I will also keep coloring my hair, take care of my skin, make healthier food choices, exercise more and take my medication!

2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.”

By Laurel Austin Henson

Laurel spent 8 months caring for her first husband after being diagnosed with cancer in 2010. He passed away at 33, leaving behind a daughter of 7 and 5 year old twin boys. After sowing millions of tears, Laurel sought out God daily and began to plan for a life of being a single mother, but ready to raise their children in faith, hope and love. God gave her more than she could have ever imagined when she brought Matt into her life, along with his 2 children. He was recently divorced and the providence of God had been leading up to this life for more than 20 years! Now Laurel is reaping joy with Matt and their 5 beautiful children. Thanks be to God for all the beauty created from the ashes of death and divorce.

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