My word, I live a charmed little life. Do you hear me? Charmed! (I doubt I need to disclaim now that I am, like my life, full of deficiencies. My imperfections spew forth in life and in writing, surely even in ways to which I am blind.)
But I have to admit, life is good. Really good.
And that wasn’t always so. So I can’t help but get excited about how sweet the past many years have been. I’m not trying to paint an unrealistic or idealistic picture; I simply have to thank God for all He has done.
I can remember living life under a weight of shame. I can remember simultaneously hungering for God and hiding from Him at the same twisted, conflicted time. I can remember being so consumed by my own self, my own vanities, my own desires, my own needs, that my mind closed in on itself in darkness. I can remember how I stung with self-recognition when a pastor declared that a common denominator between all depressed and mentally ill people is an obsession with self and internal problems.
I was not mentally ill, but I knew that self-obsession well.
When Light first began to peak Its head into my darkness, it hurt. It hurt the same way light always hurts after you’ve been in the dark too long. My skin was sensitive to the Son. My eyes were ill adjusted and unable to see clearly. My sin, my selfishness, my sorrows were all exposed in His Brightness.
But in time, I began to crave more Light. To love the Light. To see my deep need for and joy in glorious, beautiful Light.
And gracious God, He keeps giving it.
The past many years have not been easy. I’ve worked hard, I’ve become a wife and mother, I’ve grown, we’ve faced trials now and then… Obviously, life is no vacation filled with only bon bons and soft breeze. But praise God, the past few years have been increasingly Bright… filled with increasing knowledge of the glory of God.
They have been the happiest years of my life.
So you’ll be surprised to know that I’ve been tempted lately to venture back into some self-chosen shadows. Nothing that would shock you or cause your jaw to drop… just mundane, ugly shadows of increasing self-absorption, insecurities, vanities. Tempted to fold in again onto the darkness of contemplating myself rather than basking in the rays of the Savior who spared me. Tempted to turn my eyes towards my internal rather than the Eternal.
This is when they say the Christian life is a battle. I will fight. I will fight this sick pull towards the darkness. Towards selfishness. Towards idolatry.
Better yet, God will fight for me.
The same Shining Redeemer who first illumined my dim and gloomy days – even as I was hiding, shielding my eyes from His Brilliance – He will surely ignite my heart to burn intensely, and cause my life to reflect bits of His dazzling radiance.
I mean it.
I know He will.
He saved me outside of my merit long ago, when I was depressed and ugly and sinful. He doesn’t help me because I deserve it. And so even now, as I feel the alluring pull of the cozy, dank dark… that place where I think no One sees me and no One is more important than I… even now my Love will rescue me. From myself. From the shadows. From whatever robs me of the beauty of Him.
“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’” John 8:12