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You can feel it coming. Always this coming, this darkness, this weight.
Like this rain rolling in, you hear it, ignore it, push it away, fight it, dread it.
But it comes and sweeps low, this darkness. This cloud whose shadow casts and looms.
Nothing is wrong, and everything is wrong. Things that aren’t hard, are so hard.
It’s hard to remember this darkness when it’s not there, and its hard to remember without it when it is.

I wake up and I feel it, this crushing dread of doing and living and babies. This ache that weighs the bones and the heart. Before I even rise, it weighs and pulls and drags me all down with it; and we all suffer.

I’ve overspent money. I’ve taken the long way home just so more time would pass. I’ve sat in the car and pleaded for help when I go in. I swallow it down when I feel like crumbling.

I’ve made pleads for this bruise, this darkness, this cup to be taken from me.

Yet it’s not my life that’s bad, it’s my heart. My life is wonderful and filled and blessed. My life has babies and laughter and grace. But somewhere along the way this seed that bore weight, rooted and stole and masked it all and turned it sour.

It has been a year of counting. Counting all the things that make up a life, and they have turned into gifts. A year of seeing through moments and darkness, and it turning into grace. A year of finding and wrestling and pleading for joy when all these moments only feel like darkness. A year of giving thanks for these gifts that I wouldn’t have otherwise seen, and don’t see if I’m not looking. Counting all the ways He loves, even when it doesn’t feel like love.

“While I may not always feel joy, God asks me to give thanks in all things, because He knows that the feeling of joy begins with the action of thanksgiving.” –Ann Voskamp

So I’ve written nearly 1,000 of them. Each word serving as both a hammer and a knife, pounding and slaying, cutting through the mask.

And it is hard. Undoing and remaking is never easy. In fact, it’s been less easy to remake me than to make me. God spoke one word and we were all made. But He who made me with a single word, in remaking me has had to speak many words. Use many hardships. Work miracles.

“Because to receive a gift, the knees must bend humble, and the hand must lie vulnerably open, and the will must bow to accept whatever the Giver chooses to give…I humbly give thanks, and God exalts, and gives more gifts, more of Himself, which humbles and lays the soul down lower. And the good God responds with greater gifts of grace, this lifting higher and higher in grace. The river of joy always flows down to low places.” –Ann Voskamp

So I can find joy in this pressing darkness.
I can unmask these layers and see gifts.
I can stand on this mount and know that I’m being transfigured.

Sarah Pangburn

Sarah is married to Tim, and has three little girls: Selah, Eden, and Sage. She serves on the team for The Gathering at Relevant, and is a part of the Care and Prayer Team at Relevant. You can read more of her writings at

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