One of the ways in which I see God moving and working in my life is back when I was about 12 or 13. That summer before middle school, if I recall correctly. I was miserable. I don’t think that childhood depression had been invented yet; but in today’s terms perhaps that was what was going on with me. Perhaps it was just “the ugly duckling phase” as my parents would put it. I didn’t have the words to explain that things were ugly on the inside or to explain the depths of how much I did not like myself. It was far worse than just not being pretty or coordinated or so shy I could rarely talk to people.
So one way that God found me was through an public service ad on tv — as best I recall. I tried googling this to see if it was on the web somewhere, but did not find it. So take all this with a grain of salt. What I remember is black screen and a deep voice saying, “Is it better to light a single candle than to sit and curse the darkness?” and the sound of a match being struck and a candle is lit and all is glowing light. (Not from the Bible actually, which I thought it was until I investigated because of writing this. From a man named William Watkinson. And what was the PSA about? I have no idea!)
I thought, “Okay that makes sense. I’ll improve myself. I’ll light ten candles (because ten fingers) and if things are not better after that….”
Things were better after that. I get that my “self improvement” at 13 was mostly selfish — how I looked, how happy I was — but one of my candles was to talk to my parents.
My dad loved to go to garage sales and he would often make me go with him. So I started talking. After a few weekends of this, he goes, “So you have gotten … chatty…lately.” And I beamed at him. “Yes, I’m practicing talking.” “I think you’ve got it,” he said.
As an adult I realize that there was subtext, perhaps.
At the time I felt like a huge success.
Another of my candles was to make friends. And I met a girl named Diane — Diane if you are out there get back in touch with me! She taught me about making friends and being a friend. She saved my life.
Setting achievable goals to tweak your life toward better — that’s essentially what “solution-focused brief therapy” is about, and I highly recommend this problem solving technique. But I didn’t know that of course. Lighting my “candles” was a gift from God. God reached me where I was and spoke to me in a way I could hear and helped me. And until I started this project of writing down my spiritual memoir stories, I didn’t even know it.