Light and darkness – two extremes. Light creates heat, darkness brings cooler temperatures. Light creates a feeling of safety, darkness can bring on anxiety. Light enables community and relationships (we can see others around us), darkness encourages isolation. Light exposes the truth, darkness hides the truth.
When things are going well in our lives, we want to share our happiness with others. Being in community is something we desire. The fun, laughter, and joy we experience in the presence of others reminds us that life is better when we experience it together.
Then, struggles come. Loss happens. An unexpected diagnosis. Financial difficulties. Others betray us. We experience deep hurt. Life suddenly is very different than how we imagined it to be. If you’re anything like me, my natural tendency is to pull away from others at this point or to hide the painful things I’m experiencing. So often I want to protect others from experiencing sadness, or I don’t want to be a burden, so I have tried to navigate the struggles on my own.
One day, as I was reading the Bible, this truth was clearly revealed to me: Besides the Father (God) and the Holy Spirit, Jesus had 12 disciples by His side. If even Jesus didn’t walk through life alone, why do I think I can? If Jesus loved others and invested time in them even though He knew they would betray Him, shouldn’t I also do the same?
It was at this point that I realized that maybe instead of keeping my struggles in the dark that I should bring them into the light. Maybe instead of hiding the most painful parts of my story, I should reveal them, and allow others the opportunity to support me. When you’re used to being comfortable in the dark, stepping forward into the light can be scary. So, I started praying that God would bring “safe” people into my life. People who had proven themselves trustworthy. People who I could share my joys and trials with without feeling judged. I also prayed that God would give me boldness to share my story when He prompted me to. God is faithful. He answered those prayers. Here’s what I learned along the way:
1. If you don’t feel like you have a safe person, pray that God will bring you someone who can be trusted. Consider also seeing a counselor. This has been helpful for me as I have tried to process some difficult things.
2. True courage is not facing adversity on your own, but allowing others to walk alongside you. There’s no shame in reaching out for help. Leaning on God and others isn’t a sign of weakness, but it allows those around us the opportunity to show us love when we need it most. Their support makes us stronger.
3. That first step into the light (revealing a struggle) is one of the hardest steps you’ll take. Fear will try to hold you back. Move forward anyways.
4. Once you step into the light, others will see the real you. They will be able to see things you are comfortable with sharing, but they will also be able to see those things which you have kept hidden for so long in the dark. This part can be terrifying, but it can also bring freedom, especially when our confessions are met with love, caring, and acceptance. Hope is ignited when we realize that others will be there to help us through the struggles.
5. Walking in the light encourages others to walk in the light. Honesty inspires others to be honest. You begin to see that everyone has something they’ve been trying to hide and are struggling with – you aren’t the only one.
6. Once you have experienced the freedom and healing that comes from bringing your struggles into the light, be that safe person for someone else. Remember it’s an honor to hear someone’s story. Listen with the intent to love, not to judge. Help break the cycle of isolation when community is needed most.
What have you been hiding in the dark? Is there something you feel holding you back from living the abundant life that God desires for you (John 10:10)? If so, I would encourage you to find a safe person and share what you’ve been hiding. Bring it into the light. For me, that is when the healing started, and it continues today. It hasn’t been easy, but the love and support I have received in the process has encouraged me to continue moving forward.
Whatever you are going through, know you are not alone. It’s ok to need other people. Moving from darkness to light begins with a single step, but can result in experiencing peace, freedom, healing, and the joy of living in honest community. It’s an amazing feeling to be truly known and yet still fully loved. Is that something you desire? If so, maybe it’s time to take that first step….