Hi friends. My name is Lynda Cheldelin Fell, and I’m blessed to call Joanne Fink my dear friend. Joanne is recovering from spinal fusion surgery and I ask that you join me in praying for a successful outcome. Over the coming weeks and months, I’ll be posting here and there so Joanne can focus on regaining mobility and rejoining life. Like many, I love Joanne deeply and will do whatever I can to ease some of her commitments.
One of the qualities that drew me to Joanne was her passion for being a light in the world. Her vision is akin to an experience I had at a candlelight service in which we were reminded that every candle—even one—shines in darkness.
To prove the point, we were led through a demonstration. We were first asked to lower our candles. When we did, the shadows grew as the auditorium dimmed. When we were asked to raise our candles, the light grew and the shadows dimmed.
We were reminded that some people are called to walk in the valley of shadows—a place of despair, sadness and darkness. A place where one small candle bearing a flame can become a true lifeline.
Unlike me, Joanne’s soul already knew this. But I had to learn it the hard way.
Nine years ago our 15-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. As I sat next to her lifeless body, life handed me a new script that called me to walk in the valley of the shadow of death.
I handed the script back.
I wanted my old life, not a new one. I wanted my daughter to open her eyes and say “Hi, mom.”
But that didn’t happen.
Life again handed me the new script. I tore it up and handed it back.
“I don’t want your new script!” I yelled.
I had a wonderful life as a mother of one college graduate, one college student, and two teenagers. My husband and I were even blessed with our first grandchild. Life was wonderful! No need for it to be changed.
I ignored life’s new script for years. I picked it up once or twice but with my heart broken in so many places, the lines blurred together, the words indistinguishable. Besides, with my own inner light extinguished, it was too dark to read.
And then another tragedy befell us. My dear sweet hubby’s grief consumed him and he suffered a disabling stroke at age 46.
Here I was facing a new kind of grief, and I had hardly begun to process the first.
I was empty inside. Exhausted. Done.
One day out of anger I picked up life’s script. The first line said, “When you help others, you help your own heart to heal.”
Walking in the shadow of life and valley of death, I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. How was I supposed to help someone else?
But the valley is very dark. Full of sadness and despair, it was a vast gorge of pain. I wanted to be any place other than there, so I continued reading.
The second line of the script said, “Every light shines in darkness.”
As I continued my own journey through the valley of shadows, life was now asking me to shine my light.
Defiant, I challenged the instructions. How could one small light make a difference in such a place? My question was met with silence.
My wounded, angry, and hurting self wanted to prove life wrong. So I lit my light and held it high.
And a wondrous thing happened.
I discovered I wasn’t alone.
In the darkness were others just like me. Together we formed a clan right there in the shadows. I was no longer alone.
In that moment, a little bit of healing took place in my heart.
Over the years I’ve thought about that night when life handed me a new script. How I found myself walking through the valley begging for my old life back. How I fought, pleaded, and bargained for something else—not this script, please. Anything but this.
I was reminded that when life gives us a script, we have a choice. My choice was either to stay in the shadows of pain or to shine my light—the inner light we’re all born with.
When I finally held my light high, I discovered a need—and others like myself. Best of all, I met Joanne.
Today I walk in the sun. I also walk in the valley in search of wounded souls lost in the shadows. When I find one, I share my light until they can ignite their own.
The moral of the story is to hold your light high. Don’t keep it to yourself. Because when you help others, it helps your own heart to heal.
Thank you, life.
LYNDA CHELDELIN FELL
How can you help Joanne as she recovers? As a widow with two children in college, sending love, prayers, and of course sharing Joanne’s work and inviting others to buy her products is the very best way to help. Check out her new Zenspirations Care-Moji Message Stickers in the App Store, digital downloads from the ZenspirationsDesigns Etsy Shop, and personalized life-cycle products in her new CalligraphersInk Etsy Shop. Thank you for helping us help Joanne. We are truly grateful.