Whatever Darkness You Are in Right Now

“A speck of light can reignite the sun
And swallow darkness whole.”

Ryan O’Neal

Our theme this month is an important one. It brings the year to a close with essays about what rescue looks like, how deliverance can transform life, where redemption can be found. It’s especially close to my heart.

I’ve been rescued many times in my life. This sounds dramatic and noble and maybe it was on occasion. But to be honest, my rescues also left me bereft.

My rescue began when I was four, I was given up by my mom after social services removed me from her care due to her alcoholism and neglect. This led to a series of foster homes for the remainder of my childhood.

People think when a child is rescued from a dangerous home or family or country, they are overjoyed at their removal, so excited to go to their new home where they will be cared for by strangers and live a life they never thought possible. That’s what we want to believe, and how we play out in our imaginations. And sometimes it does.

But there is a story happening behind the rescue that most people can’t comprehend. As a child I didn’t know what I was being rescued from. I didn’t know that I needed rescuing, I had nothing to compare my life to at that stage. So what did that feel like at four years old? Abandonment. Rejection. Displacement. Fear.

It looked like my world crashing at my feet while I crumbled down in the middle of destruction. It means being torn from the safety of the “known,” however harmful, and thrust into confusion and despair. Sometimes the gravity and necessity of our rescue isn’t understood for years. Instead, rescue has to be worked out in the pain until you live into its “blessing.”

My story is one where rescue wasn’t immediate or complete. Deliverance has been a journey of unearthing fissures and cracks for light to come through. I can, of course, now look back at my life and comprehend the cost of my rescue and see why I needed to be delivered from my circumstances. But even the understanding of it doesn’t erase the darkness it created. Sometimes it makes it worse.

Deliverance can be bloody. It can result in death of some kind. It’s always messy. What one of us hasn’t lived in shadows of one kind or another, shadows of grief and loss, mental illness and addiction, abuse and agony?

Last November, before my first Deeply Rooted worship event, I struggled with serious spiritual oppression and after, I crashed hard. I spiraled into depression which led to relapse which led to shame which led to despair which led to more depression. I, again, needed rescue. The darkness I was under felt heavy and strong. I was tempted to believe I’d lost my last chance with God.

Light flickered in occasionally, taking different forms. A friend emailed me, not even knowing what I was going through, and shared her similar struggle that was becoming uncontrollable. I confessed to friends and my husband. I lay on the floor, face down, crying, begging for mercy. I knew I had opened a door that would be near impossible to close.

But God. He continued this work of rescue in my life. In April I flew to Guatemala City with Children’s HopeChest as part of a team of four female bloggers. The first day we visited a school and two of the students brought half of us home to meet their mom. We listened as the mom shared their story of hardship and hope.

We ask to pray for her, she says only if she can pray for us too. I raise my head and catch her eye and she doesn’t look away. She tells me the Holy Spirit has given her something to say. She takes my hands looks in my eyes and tears well up. She raises her voice and every statement is spoken with authority.

“Your feet were chosen by God since your mother’s womb, Wherever you go the Lord is in front of you. Wherever your feet touch, the Lord has been there before for you. The earth is yours. Whatever your feet touch, the Lord has given it to you. Walk in holiness.”

My eyes are wide open in surprise as this beautiful woman with a gold cross is clutching me and praying a blessing. It is being prayed twice over me, in emphatic Spanish and then beautifully-accented English. Doubly blessed. She embraces me and holds me tight, crooning over me in Spanish and swaying back and forth like she is sending me off to sleep. I hug her again as we left and she prayed over me again, another flicker of light: “Don’t be afraid, whatever God has called you to do he will train you for.”

Last month I celebrated the first anniversary of Deeply Rooted, doing what God called me to do, providing a space for women to be seen and heard. I was afraid, afraid no one would show up and terrified of bottoming out again. People did show up, truth was spoken and hearts were rekindled with hope. After the last night I was hanging out with Anita Scott, our spoken-word poet, who also performed the previous year.

She knew how hard this year was for me, she had been a constant source of prayer and encouragement. She told me, “When you got up on stage, you glowed. You radiated light. I thought maybe it was because you were dressed really nice and I’ve never seen you like that before, but the next day, in your jeans and flannel, it was still true. The words that came to me were spiritually clean.”

Anita named my redemption. What had started out as one of my darkest years, had ended with someone seeing light in me. Throughout this year, I have seen the promise of Isaiah 58 in my life:


And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.

He is my God, my rescuer, my restorer, the One who gives me a new name, a new life, new hope. God is a redeemer. He has been working to deliver me from something, he also has delivered me to something and that something is Himself.

This season of waiting for the light to overcome the darkness can leave us feeling weary and cynical. We’re crying out for the rescue of children in Aleppo, the deliverance of our country from racism and fear-mongering. We’re longing for the redemption Jesus promises us, over and over again, in his very Word spoken to us. Whatever darkness you are in right now, he holds it in his hands and lets that darkness pierce his own heart so that light will shine through his wounds, and bring you back to life.

Extra special thanks and a hearty shout out to Ruthie Johnson who made this post happen by not letting me give up. She is in every paragraph.

Tammy Perlmutter
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Tammy Perlmutter

Writer at Raggle-Taggle
Tammy Perlmutter writes about unabridged life, fragmented faith, and investing in the mess. She is founder and curator of The Mudroom and co-founder of Deeply Rooted., a biannual worship and teaching gathering for women. Tammy is a member of Redbud Writers Guild; writing blog posts, personal essays, flash memoir, poetry, and even preaching sometimes. She's an urban beekeeper and lives in an intentional Christian community in Chicago with her husband, Mike, and daughter, Phoenix.
Tammy Perlmutter
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Latest posts by Tammy Perlmutter (see all)

  • Oh, Tammy, there are so many reasons I needed to read this today. My mind was going to one of the men who’s been in our recovery program multiple times, who remembers his mother giving he and his brother up to foster care, the man who still can’t find forgiveness in his heart and how my heart aches for him and see the promise he cannot. The blessing I remember reading when you first posted about your trip, the blessing that I will share with our group who are floundering for some kind of deliverance and this scripture that I will share with our staff. But most of all, I needed this for me. Thank you for allowing us into your darkness and bringing us through to bask in your light. Thank you for sharing hope. xx

    • Debby, thank you for reading and sharing! I am glad I was able to transfer some light to you!! Let me know how I can pray for you.

  • Thanks Tammy, I needed a good cry this morning;) But seriously, oh your words. I know you struggled to get them out. Thank you for pressing on through the struggle to share the deep parts of yourself. It matters. It is powerful. It is what you have been called to as well. Thank you for making room for the rest of us here, for letting us bring all of our mess to this place, for this safe space and this community of love and acceptance. Love you! Thank you for sharing that precious and personal experience you had in Guatemala. I saw the light too at Calvin this year. I saw you come alive and saw how other people saw the beauty and authenticity in you that you couldn’t yet see. Believe it. You are beloved. You are cherished. Thank God for your deliverance. May so many others receive theirs, spurred on by your words.

    • Nicole said it best! Praise God for what He’s done, and how your freedom will bring freedom to others. Lead us on in the power and hope of Christ!!

    • Your words are light. Thank you, Nicole. You are always an encouragement to me. I’m saving this comment to return to when I need it.

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  • Julie Anna Johnson

    I too lived in darkness as a child, yet my rescue did not come while a child. After much therapy, prayer, and a God who pursued me relentlessly I too was rescued. I am now a CPS worker and knowing that pain do all I can to maintain and strengthen the family. And when that fails , look for family members that can step in. Sadly it isn’t always possible. My hope then is to be a blessing in a shit storm and pray for light to find its way in.

    • Thank you for transforming your pain into caring for others. That’s a hard, beautiful thing.

  • Tammy I just wanted to let you know that I am here recognising your bravery and your wrestling with all of the impossibly hard things.. You remind me of Jacob. He just didn’t let go of God. You can’t, and He won’t. I hope that you feel ok now that this has been shared. Keep lighting up the dark.

    • I receive that reminder:) I feel
      Remarkably at peace with this post considering how incredibly difficult it was to write! Thank you.

  • Girl, you did it. You didn’t just cheer on everyone else. You offered your words as gifts to us here. Thank you friend.

  • Stephanie Thompson

    Wow! So much here process. Tammy, I have so appreciated your friendship and still stand amazed by how that happened. The post you wrote about being prayed for was the first one I read by you. I clearly remember feeling moved by your description of being ministered to by the one you came to help. I am simply awed by God’s ability to orchestrate the body to move in our lives to speak and to act. Her prayer for you affected my life. I too have struggled with believing that God is big enough to carry out what burdens my heart. Your willingness to step out in faith and trust becomes a venue through which God speaks into the lives of others. Your story affirms how big is our God and yet how intimately we are known. “He is my God, my rescuer, my restorer, the One who gives me a new name, a new life, new hope.” Yes!

  • So very beautiful Tammy! This piece offers such hope, but shows it doesn’t come easy. I taught Sunday School a few months back, and we always have a time of prayer requests. One little girl (who I knew to be a foster child) asked simply, “That my mom would get better so I could go home.” I’m still praying….

    • Thanks, Traci! Oh, that’s so hard to hear. Jesus, be near to her and hear her prayers.

  • Beth Pandy Bruno

    Love Anita’s declaration of Gods work in you. So often we need a mirror held up that confirms the invisible. Blessings to you spiritually clean one.

    • Thank you, Beth!! I’ll be needing that reminder in the future:)

  • As you wish.