There are many places where I’m not afraid to walk alone at night. Around our neighborhood in Florida, the streets are often quiet, the problems seem few and far between, and even the city noises aren’t blaring and obvious.
We’re far enough from the ambient light of Orlando that we often have the chance to see multitudes of stars. My neighbor has a high-powered telescope that he brings out and lets others look through it. I’ve been able to see Saturn.
When the moon shines its silvery light across the landscape and the stars do their best to out twinkle one another, being outside after dark is a quiet pleasure.
But not every night is safe. Even in our calm little corner of Orlando.
We’ve had a bobcat scoping out our subdivision.
We’ve been home to a wide variety of creatures who wander in close proximity to our home. Deer, otters, raccoons, the occasional black bear, alligators.
The bobcat bothers me. They’re sneaky looking as they creep around. Even the bears are obvious–they’re looking for food and aren’t trying to hide behind bushes or trees.
We’re the interlopers. We’re the ones that have moved into their territory.
Bobcats are native to Florida. They live around swampy areas, deep forests, and dense shrub thickets that are necessary for their dens and resting spaces.
All of those areas are common where we live. It’s a surprise to see them–they keep a wide birth when the sense people around. They’re often out at night, hunting alone. Seeing one in the neighborhood was unusual.
The fact is a bobcat acts like a bobcat. It shouldn’t surprise me that it will kill cats, small dogs, small fawn because that’s what they live on. I may not like that it kills cute animals, but that’s what bobcats do. It’s who they are, how they were taught to act, what their instincts drive them to do.
Our stories do the same thing for us. We each learn a certain way of thinking, behavior, interacting with others that is part of how we grew up. We learn values from those who raise us; we observe those we’re around to discover how to act appropriately.
Some of us have truly difficult stories. In my own experience, I learned early on that my emotions were too much and too messy. It was better to be silent and not express what I felt rather than risk outbursts that would cause friction in the family.
Growing up, I was either too much or not enough, and living in that limbo made me afraid of who I was.
The darkness of fear doesn’t have to cripple me.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
God knows who we are and what we’ve been through. He doesn’t condemn us for acting out what we’ve learned; He seeks to save us from the messiness of our lives and provide us courage and power to live in Him, through Him. Providing us with a boldness to withstand the temptations to do hurtful things to ourselves and others.
We all have dark areas in our lives.
God’s light heals and restores what’s been made dark.
Walking with Him keeps the dark at bay.