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A love letter to the exhausted, the beaten down, the spread-too-thin, the ones who feel like giving up. This one is for you.

That light in you hasn’t gone out, my friend. You only think it has.

You only sit there in the darkness, surrounded by the smoke of a thousand smoldering embers snuffed out before their time, because you think that’s all you have left in you. You only throw up your hands in defeat, refusing to search for a single spark in the shadows that surround you, because the tank already feels beyond empty anyway. You’re running on the proverbial E . . . for exhausted. And what you know more than anything is that there is no flame without the fuel.

You’ve grown familiar with the coldness where once you knew what it was to feel the heat on your face. To feel the fire in your eyes. Let’s be honest, friend: you once knew what it was to shine. To leap in great leaps. To stride in great strides. And to tightrope walk the outer precipice of your dreams without any fear of falling. You once knew what it was to fly. And now here you sit, thinking that you’re grounded. That you’ll never know what it is to catch air beneath you again. But the truth is — the real get-down-to-the-heart-of-it, nitty-gritty truth is — you’ve just forgotten where it is that you keep your wings.

 You’ve tied anchor after anchor to your heart, tethering up your actions in the tangled web of someone else’s dreams. Of what they say success is. Of what the world tells us we should want when it (and okay, Bono) reminds us that we still haven’t found what we’re looking for. It tells us what we’re not enough of. And it tells us what we’re not at all. What we will never be. And it reminds us that everyone else around us is blessed with a muchness — a look at me, I have it all togetherness — that our broken hearts will never come to know.

And so one by one, the firefly sparks we used to throw off into this world blink and burn out until we’re not sure where all the fireflies have gone. That fire in our eyes — the one that used to tell us who we are and what we stand for — is no longer staring back when we look in the mirror. Until we can hardly recognize this scattered ashes-to-ashes person who has taken our place.

I know you feel like that light in you has gone out. But trust me, because I’ve been there before too. You only think it has.

You have no idea what a lamplight you are in this world. You couldn’t possibly know. Of the numbered masses who take shelter and warm themselves by the comforting constant of your fire. Of the lonely paths that you alone have been a lamp and a lantern for. Of the ways home you are lighting at this very moment. There are untold many whose lives have been made better, bigger, brighter because they happened to stumble upon you, and like a beacon in the darkness you helped them find their way again.

So I know it feels like that light has gone out for good. I know it feels like that fire you only sort of remember now must have actually belonged to someone else all along. But the truth is, this world needs you on fire burning up the darkness. For there is far too much darkness in the world. It needs you blazing the trail and lighting the way for those who come behind you. You have no idea how brightly you shine and how far your light reaches, but that’s only because it is a light that comes from within. And even the sun doesn’t know what it is to feel sunlight on its face, but that doesn’t stop it from shining on.

That light in you hasn’t gone out. You only think it has.

And the truth is, the world needs more lights just like you.


Mary Marantz appears on LIFE TODAY this Tuesday. Taken from Slow Growth Equals Strong Roots by Mary Marantz. Copyright 2022 by Mary Marantz. Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission.