Through the Night


She was eight days old when I met her. So, so tiny. I’d never seen a person so small or held a life that fragile in my hands. But when my goddaughter was eight days old, I made the trek across the state of North Carolina to meet Sarah Katelynn and spend a weekend helping her Mommy. Her exhausted Mommy, who had gotten very little rest. And so that Friday night, I held that tiny, tiny brown-haired girl in my arms, rocking and humming while the new Mommy got some much-needed sleep.

Sarah Katelynn didn’t really want to cry that night. But she didn’t want to be put down either. Fed and burped and swaddled and sleeping peacefully, I’d lay her in her bassinet, but she’d immediately begin to whimper. I’d scoop her back into the crook of my left arm and she’d sigh, then fall back to sleep, only to immediately wake up as soon as I’d put her down again. I moved to the couch and was contented just to hold her and stare in wonder at her perfect little eyes, nose, and lips. And she was perfectly contented to lie in my arms and listen to my heart beat.

My Mama tells the story of when I was born…

When you were born, you didn’t cry. I said to your Daddy and to the doctor, “Why isn’t my baby crying?” And then you started screaming, and you’ve never stopped!

I was a colicky baby. Sensitive to light and sound (and everything else). I wasn’t a good sleeper. And that’s something I never really grew out of. When I started being abused at the age of about eight years old, the insomnia fully kicked in, and it was a rare night that I went to bed and went right to sleep. I’d lie awake, staring at the nightlight, listening to the radio, trying to push away the scary memories and shameful feelings. Almost thirty years later – having been through much, much life and many hard times, I have to say that I’ve never felt so alone as I felt on those nights. My parents didn’t know what was going on in my life. They were busy, and I didn’t want to be a nuisance. But lying in my bed those nights, I felt abandoned.

When I was fourteen, I lay in a hospital bed and wished I would die. I’d had surgery that morning, but I wasn’t actually in any physical pain. But I remember being overwhelmed by this emotional weight – almost a presence in the room – that felt that death would be better than life. In the dark, I turned my face to the wall, turned my back to the world, closed my eyes, and wished to die. But in the dark, a hand reached out – not knowing my emotional state, just wanting to show me love – and stroked my back. It was my Mom. And through that touch, I fastened back to earth and made it through the night.

How many nights of my life have I walked in the dark, stumbling, grappling for a hand to hold to keep me from collapsing to the earth? Too many to count.

In Chapter 2 of Fight Back With Joy, Margaret Feinberg says, “We need people who will reach out and hold our hands whenever we find ourselves walking in the dark.” (ebook location 415)

Amen, Margaret.

If we were sitting in a sanctuary right now, you’d hear me quietly begin to sing… Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on, let me stand. I am tired, I am weak, I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, and lead me home.

Due to unforeseen technical issues, the linky widget isn’t currently available. If you have written a post in response to this chapter, please leave your link in the comments below. And, of course, I invite you to drop by my co-facilitator, Jason’s place, to see what he has to say today.

About Sarah Salter


  1. Barbara Capps says:

    One of my favorite hymns.. And one of my first solo’s..Mama would sing a lot of songs around our house and that was one of them.. Thanks for sharing…and we know He is always there to “take our hand”.. Love ya Sista Sarah..

  2. When we ask for that hand in the dark, God will provide. Good post, Sarah.

    My post on this chapter:

  3. Hands are outstretched to you, and there are those who need your hand as much as you need theirs.

    God will and does provide.

    My post on this chapter: Though I Had Nothing.

  4. One of my favorite hymns.

    I’ve gone through some dark nights…darkness so black I couldn’t find my way out so instead I longed for the darkness to take away my pain in death. Only by the grace of God did I find the light and reasons to live.

    I try not to ever look back to that time but your post reminded me that it’s good to look back occasionally, so see how far God has brought me and to remember that there are still people in darkness that need the light.

  5. First off, we are in a sanctuary so sing away. 🙂 I am constantly amazed how the simplest acts of kindness and compassion bring such (for lack of a better word) results. There are moments when you feel like it’s all hopeless and you despair, but a friend’s word or a good fit of laughter changes the emotion and you can go on. How good is our God to build a world like that? Makes me want to be connected enough to reach out like that to more people. Thanks Sarah.

    My post is The Truth about Introverts.

  6. Dear Sarah, my heart broke when I read your post. You’ve been through so much. My prayer is for healing at every level..that God continue to anchor you in the depth of His fierce love. Grateful for you, fellow Joy Warrior!

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