“It’s time for y’all to go to bed,” my mother says. I gulp, dreading the thought of the whole family in bed with the lights off. I slowly go through the motions of getting ready for bed, trying to give myself as much time up as possible. As my time runs short, I accept the fact that I must go to bed. I make sure the nightlight is on before turning the light off in my room. I hope my parents will stay up long, or rather, I hope the lights will stay on all night. Tonight, however, my parents turn the lights off early. I am left in the dark, in a strange and transformed room, scared and wide awake. This is my childhood story—an extreme fear of the dark.
Fear of the dark had been a long battle of mine. As an even younger child, when I shared a room with my older sister, I would climb into her bed every night or lay huddled on the floor next to her. I kept guard over the bathroom nightlight as if my life depended on it; but I was to frightened to have it in the same room with me because of the awful shadows it would cast. I depended on the small glimmer of light that the nightlight cast into the hallway, and if the bulb went off during the night, off to my mother I would run, and awake her to replace it. As I slept, I experienced awful nightmares, ranging from dreams of tornadoes attacking the house to various villains attacking me. As I got older, my fears worsened. It was no longer just a fear of the dark and my nightmares, it was a fear of what the dark held. Lying in bed, I saw scary humans and ghosts, strange lights, and distorted figures walk into my room. The fear was so intense that I would lie with my eyes locked open, afraid that I would be caught off guard by these awful creatures. With my eyes wide open, the room swirled before me. The bedroom door seemed as if it was closing and voices yelled in my ears. I lay there, wide awake, week after week, in this sheer terror.
I was ready for a change. I was tired of this distress at night. Oddly enough, I did not express the full extent of my fears to my parents. I did, however, let them know that I was afraid of the dark. My mom’s advice was “pray.” Frustrated and hopeless, I did. My mother found a scripture in the Bible for me, which I memorized. That night, however, as always, the darkness brought the night’s figures with it. Suddenly, I didn’t feel as prepared as I had when it was daytime. Sick of these sleepless nights, however, I timidly whispered, “God hasn’t given me…” I stooped mid sentence as I saw a figure peep around the corner. I took a deep breath and started where I had left off “…a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” These words were comforting. I continued to repeat them until I fell asleep.
The next night, I found it harder to fall asleep. Each image had doubled in size and intensity. For a while I questioned my prayers. “Do they really work,” I contemplated. But then I thought about my options. Either I could trust that God answered prayers or I could spend the rest of my nights in misery—I chose the former.
For over a year, I prayed that scripture; and all this time, my misery at night increased. I had decided, though, that I was going to win this fight; and so I continued to pray. One night, it was really rough. I hadn’t dosed once. I was lying exhausted, eyes wide open, voices screaming in my ears, strange lights encircling my view, and figures moving all over the place before me. I was worn out, I could barely hear my thoughts, but I didn’t lose faith and desperately prayed for a breakthrough. Suddenly, as if time had stopped, all the images froze. The voices ceased making noise. It was quiet, and the room became bright. Before my eyes, all the figures and images began to fall to the ground. All the strange lights left, and the images disappeared.
After over a year of praying and believing, I saw those figures disappear that night. And that night marked the end of my fear. There where no more figures, no more need for a night light. Just like that, it was all gone. The fear that had gripped me for years, no longer had a footing. This experience showed me that sometimes my prayers won’t be answered immediately, and sometimes it won’t even look they will be answered at all. But if I stay committed, continuing to pray despite the circumstances, I will see a breakthrough. I can’t lose faith, no matter how long I might have to pray. And if I continue to trust in God and the power of prayer, God will be faithful to answer my prayers. If there is something you have been praying for, don’t give up. When you need God the most, He will be there to answer your prayers—this I believe.