I live in a land where light and darkness clash and collide like the flashes and rumbling of a mighty thunderstorm.
Where both the bitter and the free, the hurting and the happy, live together under the sun’s intense heat and sky’s dark clouds.
Magnificent magnolias sprawl over grass yards that often grow course and yellow in the intensely humid summer, and then brown again when winter sends bone-chilling breezes.
Old plantation houses and extensive fields of cotton are only mild reminders of a time when enslavement was prominent. For some, racial prejudice and bitterness - even hate - wedge a constant divider between brothers. Now, we have chains of addiction, depression, and sinful habits. I have seen many from every walk and background, struggling at the surface of their enclosing darkness, gasping for a breath of freedom.
I awake each morning with the mission to live light - cutting through the darkness, hacking against chains of superstition and fear that leave many helpless. (I have my own battles to face, but I find that they are most successfully won when I am actively fighting for my friends too.)
Since I first called this land my own less than a year ago, a war has been waged on my soul like I have never experienced in my life. I have felt both the cold, chilling presence of evil and the peaceful, comforting presence of the Almighty's angels. But in the face of fear and trouble, all the while a holy angel seemed to whisper, “Have courage. You will sing in the face of danger, for your Savior lives.”
And one day, I found that defiant to my surroundings, there could be a constant peace inside. I realized that faith is put to the true test when we stand on promises alone. And I sang - because I believed that light is stronger than darkness, and darkness cannot dispel the light.
Standing in a darkened hospital room in front of me, the meth addict - barely skin and bones - stammers out her anxiety and fears. Her two choices after medical detoxification are rehab or jail.
Irrational and nervous, she wipes away salty tears and covers her face with both hands. “I am so alone,” she chokes, “there’s no one who cares about me and I have no friends.”
Compassion moves me to her side, placing an arm around her shoulders. “You are not alone. I am your friend.”
I can feel her face melting into my shoulder as we embrace.
I pause. “Even if you are alone in the world, remember that God has been waiting for you all along. He will always care for you and you are very special to Him.”
“It’s true,” she sobs. “It’s true.”
Hot tears fall on my scrubs, and the frail woman stammers a broken apology for them - but something makes me wish the cotton would stay stained that way forever.
This is the legacy I covet to claim:
That my life was a light in the darkness of this land, and I trusted enough in the promises that I could sing through any fear.
That my shoulder soothed the tears of those who cried, and that my heart had love enough to call each person friend.