Nightlight: A Girl’s Guide to Sight


As a child, I looked up the scaly pine, all ground-level limbs ascending, a stairway worth a song. I remember the first realization that I could climb, and with the thought, I reached and swung, and I scraped my arms. I flung my shoes to the ground. I used my fingertips and my toes. I itched, and I tore my clothes, and I got so high that the trunk got slim, and I could feel the give. I was high above shadow, and I had long little girl hair, and it got in my mouth, and my teeth got cold from smiling.

Not long after, there was the time in 1st grade handwriting class, when my tongue moved my front tooth. My heart raced so that I went to the office and called Mama to come and get me from school. I had said I was sick, but I really wanted to go home and stare in the mirror while I wiggled my tooth free. I was finally losing a tooth, entry into a passage that led to maturity. I knew it then, too.

Puberty looked so good on all my girlfriends, so when it hit me the summer I turned 13, I rejoiced, unfurling just enough to excuse a bra.

And then my first solo in choir. And then my first love, handling my first alone-time with a guy. And then my first cigarette and my first secret chance to drive a friend’s long hoopty car – all hands, no breaks.

There was a long walk in the pitch dark to the barn where I kept my new puppy named Nub. I walked a trail where the deer crossed, where the coyote howled. I walked it slowly every night like a test. Between the porch light and flick of the barn light, I aimed for low pulse and no imagination.

There was a week in a room a little bigger than a bed, alone in London, back when I wrote entire journals to God. Then, I challenged myself to exhaust perspective in art. I tired my feet at a painting. Time stopped, and it whirled me light-years ahead all at once.

I wanted to be grown, and I loved the liminal spaces that took me there, not that they were good.

I’ve been thinking about the sky and the limbs we think take us there, about the babbling towers of reputation, especially for the college student and the liminal space through which young adults wade to get to grown. I’ve been thinking about how the monsters in our childhood closets follow us when we leave home, and how un-equipped young ladies are to banish them.

I’ve been thinking about the long dark walks and how we feel around until we find the light switch, how we don’t find the light switch until we’ve walked through the dark – unless someone who’s walked there before can walk with us.

On Fridays, I’m starting a series for younger women, and what I want from you (who aren’t so much the younger) is a comment session that encourages young women toward an eternal perspective. I want this space to be open for all of us to discuss the difficulties and beauties of being away from home, being accountable to God, and finding home in God. Are you in?

Let’s learn from women who are older than we, and let’s lead the women who are younger. {If you’re interested in guest-posting on this topic (as a woman in need of direction or as a woman with perspective to give it), please contact me.}

So tell me: what happened to you or what did you learn when your parents were finally not watching your every move? What dark trails did you have to journey?

amberhaines
About me

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26 Comments

AbbyLeigh
Reply February 19, 2010

i'm in. let the floodgates open. this is a wonderful wonderful place to start and a wonderful wonderful idea. thanks amber.

i'm not too old myself, but i'll be here to jump in when i can. for now, i'm getting that memory feeling -- those growing-up times i block out and shred pictures of. they're a comin' back. should be interesting to see what they have to say.

Kristen
Reply February 19, 2010

What a beautiful idea.

keLi
Reply February 19, 2010

yes, please. i teach high school girls, and i go home daily with the shadows they walk in trailing from the hem of my slacks. i ache to know how to help them -- how to save them from themselves (and the boogeymen). and then i think of myself and wonder: what could anyone have possibly said to you -- then?

then last week, via ultrasound, the news: this baby i carry is all girl. i've been caught in a cycle of panic and prayer ever since ... i'd love to hear from women up ahead of me on the journey...

Megan
Reply February 19, 2010

Lovely. What a wonderful idea.

wishful nals
Reply February 19, 2010

what a beautiful post. you certainly have a way with words!

deidra
Reply February 19, 2010

Here's what I know to be true...what life taught me when I wasn't looking: Everyone - no matter who, no matter what - is doing the very best they can with what they have in the moment.

Prudence
Reply February 19, 2010

I love this idea. There is always someone older than us and younger than us whether physically or spiritually. I can tell you that I have a tab full of women bloggers that I feed off your experience, guidance, etc. I've been a Christian for 18 years, and nearing 35 but I still need guidance spiritually and with day to day mundane things as a wife, and someday as a mom.

Jessica
Reply February 19, 2010

I feel that my experience as a teen and college student has me completely wrapped in fear for my daughter. It is not a place I want to be. I think that the ministering to girls in that stage of life can bring healing to us "older" women who offer thee wisdom. My heart remains heavy in this issue.

Elora
Reply February 19, 2010

love this, Amber. so much wisdom at our disposal - can't wait to hear/learn from others and their experiences.

Jacklyn
Reply February 19, 2010

I would love to be a part of this. I have been craving something like this. I think it's so important to create that type of community where you can honestly talk about all of this and expose everything. Wonderful idea! I can't wait!

brittney
Reply February 19, 2010

As a youngin' I am completely stoked about this series. Completely.

Your zeal is so encouraging.

Lea Anne
Reply February 19, 2010

I was 19 and pregnant. Got married and now 20 years later, have learned a lot about myself and God. I wish I had been discipled as a young person, not so much to have escaped the life that I have now, but to have prepared me better for life in general. My husband and I teach in the College Department at our church and it's my desire to help young people be prepared, spiritually and physically, for their adult lives. I'm in if you'd like to hear any advise that I've learned along the way.

Linda
Reply February 19, 2010

I think this is an inspired idea Amber. I am a grandmother, but I remember well those days when I somehow had to find faith for myself - when I wondered if what I had learned in my home was what I truly believed. I am sure there are many young women who are longing for someone to mentor them. Just between you and me, I still look to my 86 year old mother for guidance. Having a godly older woman in one's life is a priceless blessing.

Rachel Boldman
Reply February 19, 2010

I'm in. Once I can put some thought into it, I'll contact you. :)

Brooke McGlothlin
Reply February 19, 2010

Amber I just love you. I'll have to hug you when I meet you :-) Thank you for this. It's this generation's fulfillment of the Titus 2 directive for the older women to teach the younger and I couldn't love it more! Oh how I want them to know that they are capable of so much...Oh how I want to help them fall in love with their Savior...so much the love that sin pales in comparison to it!

Boy Crazy (@claritychaos)
Reply February 19, 2010

my battery is dying (literally, not metaphorically!) but I'd love to get involved at some level. be in touch about it, will you?

-elizabeth

Sarah
Reply February 20, 2010

I am leaving my home and family in NZ to go to far away Germany this May and will be definitely reading these posts. Looking forward to it!

Emily
Reply February 20, 2010

The vast majority of the darkness that I had to find my way through happened while I was still living at "home." The day my mother and step-father drove away, leaving me standing on the sidewalk outside my first college dorm--that was the day I felt the light.
People I loved--grandmothers, aunts, godmothers, friends--told me that would happen. That one day I could be free of all the things that were such a weight to my soul. They helped me hold on to that promise, and it would be wonderful to think that something I said or wrote might do the same for someone else. Mostly I remember how much faith it took to believe them.
I'm in if you'll have me!

Jenny
Reply February 20, 2010

The first aid to the young is so dear to my heart

"So tell me: what happened to you or what did you learn when your parents were finally not watching your every move? What dark trails did you have to journey?"

I was raised with crushing hand and mindful burdens...still working to shake them off at 38: wife, mother of 6.

Jenn
Reply February 20, 2010

So Biblical and timely Amber, I love it.

Speak of the gift of being "even". I didn't rebel so much as I did roller coaster from one emotion/plan/idea to the other. This uneven nature plagued me into adulthood and Iwould long to not be tossed by the waves of the sea as James says. We should share the joy and discipline of being steady in Christ.

Becky
Reply February 20, 2010

I learned that I knew who God was but didn't really KNOW Him. However, I sure didn't think that while still at home. I thought I agreed with the "boundaries" and I was arrogant enough to think I wouldn't ever fall for ...you name it. Then when the storms came, my sandhouse crumbled and I became shackled in a sinful lifestyle for years, feeling very much in bondage. I believe the reason I wasn't prepared is that there was not transparency in my home. It was full of pride and secrecy. I am one of the 'older' women and have to admit that fear that my daughters would follow in my footsteps played a much bigger part in raising them than I wished. Oh, to have had a place like this when my girls were younger. a place to be transparent. A place to experience God's grace. Amber, you are filling a huge Biblical need that is not being filled elsewhere by providing this. Thank you.

bekah
Reply February 21, 2010

amber,
YES! YES! YES!
again, i'll read on.
the honesty of your heart put down on font, to my heart, makes me realize 'this is real,' makes me realize i can learn from you, from others, here. what stirs your heart is truth and beauty.
again, i say; yes! yes! yes!

Becca~TimeWellSpent
Reply February 21, 2010

I look forward to this! As with a lot of young women my searching, learning, finding was about God. Reconnecting with the Lord in my late twenties after I became a mother.

Anna
Reply February 21, 2010

Thank you. Just thank you.

I'm a senior in college, and have been in a period of doubt and fear over knowing God since my sophomore year. The worst of the darkness is behind me, but I'm still just grappling, and your blog is a lifeline. I want the wisdom of older women in my life So.Much., and women at church are sweet but busy, and I'm busy too, and our lives seem so separate.

deb
Reply February 23, 2010

reading again,
thinking

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