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When the lights go out in our lives

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It’s late March of 1994, I’m in Plain Dealing, an ice storm is about to take out the lights in my house and I know it.

As I sat in my recliner, I asked myself “What’s one to do when the lights go out in our lives?”

As the lights flickered, I was granted the opportunity to hear the famed syndicated columnist Art Buchwald speak of his painful childhood, after his mother’s hospitalization that lasted 35 years in a mental hospital and of his stay in seven foster homes, to which he rebelled and ran away at the age of seventeen when he lied to join the Marines.

I listened as he ended his segment of a Prime Time interview on that Thursday night less than two minute before our lights officially died. I was uplifted in the dark as I recalled what he said: “It helps in becoming a journalist if one is first a foster child.”

This affirms my theory of the power of deep pain to spark our creativity.

As limbs cracked and popped on the pine trees from the monumental ice storm, my spirit soared as I saw my life, my work, flash before my eyes! It all came together within my mind. I sensed a method to the madness, the chaos of my childhood, one of lack, of living in an orphanage after my father’s death and the head injury that permanently incapacitated my mother to ever be able to function as a mother.

So life’s tragedies have graced my face as I’ve learned to grab hold of my pain, of feeling the flesh ripped from my bones with one move after another as a minister’s wife. I’ve learned to make the most of it, to turn it around, seizing the moment, of even an ice storm.

With no heat my youngest son and I put on extra warm ups and caps and savored the moment by telling stories.

Today we both remember that special shared ice storm.

When the lights came on I savored my early morning coffee along with my newspaper and I picked up my pen to write more appreciative of what we can learn during the ice storms of our lives because we will all have them.

It’s not what happens to us but how we grab hold of those periods of deep pain and use them as the back drop to support us in our weakest moment.

Later that year I interviewed Jasmine Morelock Field, Shreveport artist, on my talk show hosted by Time Warner. She told how our experiences can be worked into our paintings and even a mistake should be left in to make it a stronger painting and how it is often our weaknesses, that appear to be mistakes that makes a stronger life.

She she uses the story of the murder of her daughter to minister to people because she sees her story as the tool that God gave her to help hurting people.

Her best friend, Ann Welsh-Gardner, another local artist, I interviewed also voiced the same feelings when she said “When our life is easy we become complacent, fat and lazy but when we hurt we choose our medium.”

For Ann and Jasmine their mediums are the canvas and the pen. For me my tool is writing when I’m in deep moments of despair!

Again, it’s not what happens to us but how we turn it around, choosing our medium, sharing our stories, giving others the courage to share their pain!

It adds so much meaning to our lives to reach out, to allow others to know that they are not alone, that it is OK to let others know of their serious depression rather than going off the deep end with no turning back.

God always pulls me through my tight places when there seems to be no answers because He is the same yesterday, today and forever, always getting me to the right place at the right time!

Without Him I can do nothing.

 

Sarah Hudson Pierce is President of Ritz Publications in Shreveport.