Let your light shine in the darkness…

November 1, 2022

A couple of quotes in my collection just seemed to fit together this morning –

“Fear has a very concrete power of keeping us from doing and saying the things that are our purpose.” (Luvvie Ajayi)

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”  (Brené Brown)

Darkness and fear go hand in hand. We fear what we cannot see in the darkness – maybe an upcoming event or a place that we’ve neve been before. We let our imaginations replace the unknown with all sorts of improbable but none the less seemingly possible negative outcomes. We talk (think) ourselves out of even trying. Only through overcoming those fears and exploring the things that we kept ourselves from doing can we really discover our own power and purpose (our real destiny).

In Sunday School you might have learned a little song titled “This little light of mine”. That is a perfect song for children but as we grow up we accept things less and less and need to understand things more and more. Perhaps this Scottish hymn is more appropriate for adults.

Fear and self-doubt are both darkness’s that can creep over us and prevent us from doing and saying the things that we want to say and should say. They hold us back from our purposes in life. At the end of every dark tunnel of fear that we allow ourselves to enter is the same ultimate fear – the fear of death. It is only when we can conquer that fear that we can let our light shine. The only path to conquering that fear is the one that Jesus provided for us on the cross – through belief in Him, through faith. Bob Dylan said it in the lyrics for the song  Precious Angel: “Ya either got faith or ya got unbelief and there ain’t no neutral ground.”

So, fear not, believe in Christ and be brave, and let the light of your faith shine in whatever darkness you face. The light of your faith will show you the way out of the darkness and it may help illuminate the path for others facing the same darkness. Let your light shine in the darkness.

Be a light in someone’s darkness…

May 17, 2022

In his post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog today, pastor Freed used this Sir Francis Bacon quote – “In order for the light to shine brightly, the darkness must be present.”

That quote seemed to fit nicely with a graphic that I recently received –

Darkness seems to be forever linked with bad things happening, but is may just be an indication of how someone is reacting to things going on around them. The world can seem to be closing in on them, blocking out the goodness (the light) that is still there. They focus on the darkness and don’t see the light.

Jack wrote about his experience with seeing the impact of a single candle in the complete darkness of a huge cave. If you know someone who seems surrounded and overcome by darkness, Jack went on to write – Perhaps you can be “that light” to someone today.  “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine!” 

But how do you become the light in someone else’s darkness? The first step is to recognize that the person is hurting somehow and to just be there for them in their time of need. Just having someone to talks to can often be the difference. Sharing a disappointment or a defeat, or maybe the pain of the loss of a loved one, is cathartic in and of itself. If you can summon words of hope and encouragement, so much eh better; but just being there for them is a big help.

One doesn’t always have to become embroiled in big, life changing moments to become a light in someone’s life. Let your light shine through the little things, too, like saying, “Hello, how are you” to some one that you encounter or maybe holding a door open for someone. Those small gestures shine your light into what may have been the darkness of loneliness in that person’s life. Even a smile as you pass someone on the street is an acknowledgement that you acknowledge that person’s existence ands for some that is a light in an otherwise dark world.

The line from the song “This Little Light of Mine” also impacts you. If you approach each day as an opportunity to let your light shine in someone’s life you might soon notice your own life becoming better. You will feel better about yourself. You will have more friends. You will be more sought after. The darkness in your own life will fade away in the reflection of your own shining light.

So, let your light shine today. Be a light in someone else’s darkness.

Shine on!

Let the Light reign in your life…

November 8, 2015

“Darkness dwells within even the best of us. In the worst of us, darkness not only dwells but reigns.”  – Dean Koontz

girl cryingOne could substitute the word “evil” in Koontz’s quote and it would ring as true.  We certainly see and hear about enough things in the daily news to acknowledge that there exist those in who darkness or evil reigns. It is easy sometimes to be draw towards that dark side and to have dark thoughts or reactions in response to that news. Sometimes we succumb  to the darkness and it reigns in our lives.  Better, I think to heed the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. when dealing with darkness –

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

But, where do you turn to find the light and the love to combat darkness and hate? Since it is Sunday, I’ve got a suggestion – try going to church. If there is any place on earth that darkness cannot abide it is in the sanctuary of a church. There, whether in the midst of a crowd or sitting (or kneeling) by yourself, you come face to face with the one meLight that darkness cannot overcome.  You come in contact with the one Love that surpasses all understanding and forgives all sins. Hate cannot stand against the force of that Love.

When the famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he replied – “Because that’s where the money is.” One might use the same logic to answer the question why go to church, “Because that’s where God is.” Sure, it’s possible to find God outside of the church, but it makes the job all that much easier if you go to His house. Darkness lives under rocks and in deep recesses and avoids the light. Faith comes from above and is the LIGHT.  Let faith in and the darkness and hate will no longer reign in your life’s journey. Church is a good place to look for the light.

“Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey.”  – from Lumen Fidei – The first encyclical of Pope Francis.

So, faith does not vanquish all darkness from our lives, but it does allow us to proceed without tripping over things in the darkness. It does allow us to see a way out of the darkness and to see a future that, for some, the darkness of depression tries to rob. Yes, we may still experience hurtful things and pain and fear and losses – things that beckonhand reaching for heaven us into the darkness – but, if we keep our faith burning we will always be able to see the way back to the light. Some darkness may remain in your life, but it will not reign in your life. Let the Light in and give Him the reins of your life.

Have a great Sunday. Maybe I’ll see you in church or maybe I’ll just notice your light shining off in the distance.

Be the spark for someone today…

October 26, 2015

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” – Albert Schweitz

I’ve posted here a few times about being positive and helping others. I’ve talked about being the rainbow in somebody’s life. Recently I had series of posts that wandered off a bit into the dark side of life and battling back from that. I received lots of feedback from people who have been though depressions and from some for whom it is still an issue.

I was going to write a post about dealing with depression; but, I realized that I have no business trying to do that. I have no experience or personal frame of reference for the girl cryingfeelings of someone who is undergoing depression.  I’ve had my share of disappointments, times of great sadness, or loss and feelings of failure at something or thoughts of inadequateness; however, I’ve never gone further than to approach the abyss that depression can apparently become.

As I was reading on the topic of depression, I ran across many great quotes from people who have had personal experiences with depressions and made it back out (or who are in a recovery mode). Many if those quotes made reference to the darkness. There were also many well-meaning advice quotes, which  seem to have a recurring theme of looking for the light in the midst of the darkness. Many of the quotes written by the people who had experienced it or were still in a state of depression seemed to be saying, “Let me alone, I prefer the dark”. That just didn’t seem to me to be very helpful – to just back off and ignore the pain of depression, if one sees it in a friend. One quote that I found seemed to sum up the role of a true friend for someone who is depressed.

If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’tdark alley a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather. Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do.”  ― Stephen Fry

While I may never be able to understand the crippling impact that depressions can have on someone, I can at least try to be there for them when they come out the other side; hopefully to help rekindle hope in their lives. So, maybe our role is just to be there. To say, “Welcome back”; to prove that somebody does care and love them, even when they don’t love themselves.

Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, posted this piece of advice for well-meaning people who don’t understand or see depression as a medical condition that may require long-term medications to control.

“Since I am writing a book about depression, I am often asked in social situations to describe my own experiences, and I usually end by saying that I am on medication.

“Still?” people ask. “But you seem fine!” To which I invariably reply that I seem fine because I am fine, and that I am fine in part because of medication.

“So how long do you expect to go on taking this stuff?” people ask. When I say that I will be on medication indefinitely, people who have dealt calmly and sympathetically with the news of suicide attempts, catatonia, missed years of work, significant loss of body weight, and so on stare at me with alarm.

“But it’s really bad to be on medicine that way,” they say. “Surely now you are strong enough to be able to phase out some of these drugs!” If you say to them that this is like phasing the carburetor out of your car or the buttresses out of Notre Dame, they laugh.

“So maybe you’ll stay on a really low maintenance dose?” They ask. You explain that the level of medication you take was chosen because it normalizes the systems that can go haywire, and that a low dose of medication would be like removing half of your carburetor. You add that you have experienced almost no side effects from the medication you are taking, and that there is no evidence of negative effects of long-term medication. You say that you really don’t want to get sick again. But wellness is still, in this area, associated not with achieving control of your problem, but with discontinuation of medication.

“Well, I sure hope you get off it sometime soon,” they say. ”

woman in a bubbleI’m sure that the same dialogue would not occur if the discussion was about the insulin that a diabetic needs to live a normal life or the oxygen that someone with COPD might be hauling around with them. As a society, we need to think of the medications that help prevent or lessen depression with the same level of acceptance. It’s time we moved our thoughts about depressions and mental illness out of the dark places in our minds and become the enlightened friends that can really be helpful to those in need.

Faith is one of the things that can get temporarily lost for many who undergo such deep journeys into the darkness of depression. Yet for others it is their faith that helps them find the light and see the way out of the darkness.  Ann Marie Aguilar said it this way – “If darkness surrounds you, look for the light. If you can’t see it, raise your head up. You may be surrounded by darkness but it does not cover you on top. Let the light shine down on you andhand reaching for heaven let it lead the way out of darkness.”

One thing that turning to one’s faith can do is to provide a way out of the dark, one-way alley called “I’m not worthy.” Faith does not require you to be worthy; it only requires you to be willing to embrace God and receive the forgiveness and grace that was ransomed by His Son Jesus on the cross. Faith allows you to let go of the things that have been troubling you by allowing you to give up the fight to control things that you cannot control by saying “Not my will; but, thy will be done.” Faith allows you to love yourself and therefore to allow others to love you, too. Faith may also free you from guilt, so that you can seek the help that is available through modern drugs and psychotherapy.

caringHave a great week ahead. If you know of someone who suffers from bouts of depression, don’t turn away; be there for them. Be the friend that rekindles their spark of hope and pray for them to find their way back to their faith and out of their personal dungeon of depression.