I watch the lightning bugs, but do not find them until the end of my journey;
for it is far darker here than I have ever imagined, but far greater of a journey than I ever dare believed.
The dream. A forest, miles of a forest, cutting back branches and trees to make a path. The path clearing behind me, a dark figure– one that is not scary– follows me, running down the path I’m chopping. If I had a tally for the times I’ve dreamt this dream, I’d have nearly a whole book full, I’m sure.
The picture zooms out. I see myself in third-person, as if I am someone else watching the girl making the path. I see a yellow-white light glowing from the center of the girl, illuminating the darkness. And I know I am swift. I am steady.
Back to this night: there is a path with a road I’ve walked since I was young, a path that leads from my house to the neighbors’. This road does not have light on its own, but it does have houses and sometimes houses have light.
But not this night.
This night it is dark, and although my eyes can make out the shapes of the trees that arch over the pavement, my shoulders turn at the sound of every crack and shift in the space around me.
I turn on the flashlight on my phone, but to no avail: I find myself in the same darkness as before.
But this night. On this night my feet remind me of what it felt like at age 9 on a razor scooter, skidding down this hill and being carried back up it by a neighbor boy my age.
This night. On this night my feet know the spot where a pipe runs beneath the road, the place where the concrete is a little bit higher than the rest. The way it feels to go full speed across it on a golf cart. I have to say, the adrenaline rush is not the same in sandals.
This night. I swear I hear footsteps, but it’s simply my bag tapping my hip.
This night. It’s getting darker as the moon slips behind the clouds.
This night. My mind plays games with my soul as I wander down a path to my house that does not require a road.
I took two steps down a grass path onto old hole #3, whose green shares a space with my backyard. And I hear two clicks and see the fountain in the pond, and I hear two clicks again. I look to my left and feel a spray of water hit the back of my hand.
If I was wearing a t-Shirt, if I wasn’t trying to wear my hair again like this tomorrow, I would have ran through it. Danced through it, even, because what else is a girl to do?
I watch the spray of water heighten in size and reach even further ground than before. All the while, I’m dodging slippery grass and shadowed ground, only to find a house glowing with great light before me as my eyes rise up to meet it. It is my house, lit before me, telling me I am welcome there.
And in front of my house, as I approach it, I see small lights dance in my backyard. I laugh as I remember my recent search history: “does Thailand have lightning bugs?” The answer from Google is yes, but I know that is not the answer I seek.
In that moment, I know it’s not so much about whether or not the little lights will be there, going wherever they please. It is more about the girl in the forest who carries the light inside of her, chopping away at the branches and tangles to create a way through, not a way out.
Fear chooses the way out. Endurance chooses the way through.
I think about that girl in the dream. She knows the path, even though she has to be persistent in her pursuit. She knows the path like I knew the path home tonight.
I know. I know I am her, even when I have a difficult time believing it is me, that I can keep chipping through the things that hold me back.
That’s when I remember: I can’t do it. That’s not my light.
I’m laying in bed tonight and I whisper to myself, “because Jesus is who He says He is, I am who He says I am.”
I am patient. I am detail-oriented. I am strong. I am a light. I am willing to forgive. I am able to let go. I am a child of a King with a Kingdom that cannot be shaken.
When my mouth speaks these words, a wave shifts in my heart, a curtain pulls back to reveal an open space that was covered before.
This is true freedom, to know the truth and be unhindered.
But contrary to the picture above, our path is not always lighted. The road is not always concrete. The destination is not always a shelter.
But I know the girl in my dream is the true version of me, and I want to get to know her better. I don’t want to be afraid. I do not want to give up. I lean back into the promises He has set aside for me (for each of us) and I know that His light is enough. Enough for me, and for the stars, and the trees, and each moment created. Enough for you, too. Enough to break our walls and unleash peace and liberate joy. Enough to persevere with obedience at the call of the true light that lives inside of us.
We watch for the fireflies, and we find them. But we will never burn out.