three brothers and the dark

I wake in the dark. The alarm has been screeching, screaming in the start of a new day, but my body’s sun-cycled melatonin sings sleep.

Pitch outside, blackest black – the sun not even sending finger-feelers over the horizon yet. It can’t be, yet. Can’t be time to start another of these whirlwind days that leave me pulling knots out of my hair, too fast to count or gain bearings or hold on to.

Everything seems in slow motion – the shower, the bubbling of oatmeal on the stove, the pulling on of shoes and purse, the shoving and gathering of lunches. Yet time goes fast, and before I am ready, we are stepping out the door, locking home and warm bed behind us, and the words open a hole in my heart: “Another day, another dollar.” Archaic expression, so cliche – I’ve never used it before, so powerful to let the darkness in.

More words – words that are ill-thought and come too fast; my heart is a vacuum that discontent is tearing into like cancer. Discontent, Worry, and Insecurity – those brothers come and sit with me in the dark of the morning, seeping into my thought process.

It’s like Madeleine L’Engle describes in A Wrinkle in Time: I’m just standing on the side-lines here, watching as darkness grabs me and overtakes my words, careening over a path of devastation. I am too wicked this morning to rein it in; I let it come, choose to be discontented, worried, insecure. Choose to be hurtful, blaming, bitter.

Hours later, I am dismayed by the explosion of darkness. This is what I’ve being working on! To be content in all things! And here I am, ripping through my marriage and my morning with utter lack of self-control.

Control. This word sticks in my mind. Isn’t this what’s prompted my morning? Another variable in my circumstance, unaccounted for…a variable that I haven’t carefully labeled and boxed and placed onto the “Things I Have Decided to Be Contented With” shelf. Its uncategorized chaos directly melts down my best intent.

And I see another hole, this one poked through my carefully constructed “Contentedness” scheme. It’s not the circumstance that matters. It’s not choosing to be content for that circumstance, at that time.

I need a contentedness that stretches above, beyond, outside of circumstances. Paul’s words to the Philippians whisper through my thoughts. “I have learned to be content whatever state I’m in…through Christ…” Is this it? The secret for contentedness? The secret for enjoying fully life as it comes NOW, even on my dark, anxious mornings? Even when a new piece of the puzzle has no place at all in my tight fists and darkened heart?

Christ. The grace from heaven stretching far beyond what we deserve or desire.

What is discontent but demanding that I have not been given all I deserve, that I must have more? What is worry but shouting that the resurrection has no power, that the grave is ultimate, that the God who provided a way through darkest death cannot provide a way for my tiny needs? What is insecurity but throwing into question the love of a God who would give and give and give…everything, his beloved…for me? 

I am given more than my sinful heart will ever deserve. I am promised that, through the power of Christ’s resurrection, all things will work for good, for God’s purpose, in me. I am assured that the God-man will cross heaven and earth for me to give and give and give.

And yet I expect more? Everything beyond this is grace abounding, without measure! Everything above this is luxuries, riches, treasures of kings! Any gift, any breath, any good thing given me alongside and also with the blood of Christ makes my cup overflow!

No wonder, my heart sighs. No wonder Paul could rejoice in the Lord, again and again, whether in sickness or health, in riches or poor, in darkness or light, in freedom or chains. He knew this one thing that now rings across my heart: Christ has been given! Everything is blessing and bounty and undeserved!

I place this new measuring stick of contentment alongside this day and see only grace, only blessing, only bounty. To even wake on this morning, to even make oatmeal, to even watch the sky blush with new light. To even drive a car, to even be married to this man, to even have a job – it’s all bounty beyond what I deserve. Grace doubly measured out.


  1. Wesley says:

    You need to start writing a book of this stuff.

  2. Wesley says:

    Reblogged this on Word Alive and commented:
    This is my beautiful wife’s excellent new blog. Her writing is top notch. I think she should publish don’t you?

  3. ophelia says:

    she certainly should

  4. Julie Little says:

    Great stuff, Jenni. Yes, keep writing!

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