I'm a chicken. I don't like to run in the dark. But sometimes I do it just because it's the only time I have when my husband is home to watch the kids.
Street lights line the road I live on, but near the end of the road, there's an obvious absence of light. I get a little apprehensive running on that section of the road. I run as fast as I can through the darkness. I get past it, and breathe a little sigh of relief; however, in the back of my mind, I know I have to return through the same area to get back home. On the return home, I run fast again through the dark section, looking toward the street lights ahead. Once I near the street lights, I relax (I'm no longer a chicken) and enjoy the rest of my run.
There are dark seasons of life, times when we hurt. When we walk through the darkness, especially times of pain that we've caused ourselves, it's scary. Sometimes we want to rush through the hurt, the pain. And sometimes we think we've reached the other side, the light, only to realize we must travel through the darkness again to find healing, to return home. When we realize we have to return through the darkness, we remember the pain of the first passing through, making it more difficult to pass the second time around.
I think of Peter's denials of Christ. When he realized what he'd done, he went out and wept bitterly (Matt. 26:75). His sin must've penetrated his heart. I imagine Peter lived through a dark season for several days. Yet he ran to the empty tomb, and was the first to enter. He then went away to his home, marveling at that which had happened (Luke 24:12). Soon after, Peter and his friends were on a boat fishing, when they spotted Jesus on the shore. Peter threw himself out of the boat to reach Jesus. I'm pretty sure Peter had passed through his dark season by that point and thought himself to be walking towards light. However, Peter had to travel through grief one more time. Jesus asked Peter three times (the same number of times as Peter had denied Him) if he loved Him. By the third time, Peter was grieved (John 21:17). But Jesus had to deal openly with Peter's shame and guilt to rid him of it. It's only after this questioning, this reconciling, that we see Peter truly walking in light...healed from his sin...a sort of returning home.
If you're returning through the same dark path you've once travelled, don't give up hope. Healing awaits you on the other side.