Grand Traverse Woman
HOW A FACEBOOK POST CHANGED EVERYTHING BY ABAGAIL BYAR
PHOTO BY LISA LIRONES
HAVE you ever gone somewhere you didn’t want to go? Did something that
WHAT IS SPARK IN THE DARK? Spark in the Dark is a rapidly growing Northern Michigan-based nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering individuals and organizations in our community to directly help one another in times of need. With a membership of over 8,300 individuals to date, Spark in the Dark estimates that in 2017 alone they were able to assist in approximately 12,000 situations by connecting people to one another for everything from advice to employment to physical items such as baby clothing and furniture. The organization is focused on bringing the human connection back into giving by providing a platform where people can directly connect with one another to provide support, kindness and encouragement along with physical items given to one another in times of need. Visit www.sparkinthedark.org or Spark in the Dark on Facebook at www.facebook.com/groups/sparkinthedark.
you didn’t want to do? And did it out of desperation? Me too, and it changed my life forever. Three years ago, I had began attending a local church seeking purpose, something different. My life had taken bad turn after bad turn, and I needed to make a major shift. I was struggling and depressed and felt that I had no direction. So six months in and after multiple invitations, I dragged myself into my first women’s Bible study in the fall of 2015. Terrified and apprehensive, I went. I recall thinking the following, as I walked through the church doors: “It isn’t too late to turn around–and run.” “I love God. But I don’t like large groups. Especially of women I don’t know.” “Escaaaaaaaaaaaaape!” “Ah crap. Spotted. Too late to turn back now.” It’s important to note that before walking into this church, I had experienced abuse, the effects of alcoholism, the death of a parent, rape, teenage pregnancy, the beginning of a VERY bad divorce, single motherhood, and even a brief stint of homelessness – just to name a few. Regardless of my past, I was always intentional about being optimistic and kind. But, because of my upbeat personality, it was often assumed that I was young and lacked life experience. In my early years, I used to thoroughly enjoy helping those who labeled me as naïve, insert their foot into their mouth with my horror stories. Until one day, after a particularly impressive pity party for one (thrown by yours truly), it occurred to me that leveraging my pain and darkness to gain respect and admiration from my peers was not only ineffective, it was creating a bigger divide when what I really wanted was connection. Once I started attending church, I decided that I would no longer lead my story with the darkest moments in my life, as I had found that, in doing so, those dark moments often led ME mostly down paths I did not like.
THE SPARK As I sat at my table waiting for the women’s study to begin that day, I took to the bad habit of eavesdropping. To my left, three women discussed their desire to volunteer, but their frustration with endless paperwork and inconvenient volunteer hours. They said it lacked the fulfillment they were seeking.
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