This post is part of the December Synchroblog: Darkness and Light as Motifs of Spirituality. A list of contributors can be found at the end of this post.
I almost backed out of participating in this month’s synchroblog. To begin with, I am new at this blogging thing and still have a little anxiety about putting myself out there. In addition, I wasn’t that comfortable with the subject as I have been going through a spiritual transition over the last couple of years and am somewhat hesitant to declare what is light and what is darkness. But then I said, “what the heck”…so here goes:
image found at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamelah/124906800/ some rights reserved: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/deed.en
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. John 1:5
I went to an old time revival with my mother when I was nine years old and ended up “walking the aisle” and “accepting Jesus as my savior.” I was baptized, started attending church and was satisfied that I would “go to heaven” when I died. My parents were believers but not committed and I went away to college with a shallow faith.
I married in my late 20s, had two sons and got divorced all in less than ten years. When my husband left me I went through a very “dark” time (for the record, my husband and I remarried seven years later and are happily married today). After a lot of emotional ups and downs I did some serious reflection and decided that I wanted and needed my faith to amount to more than “life insurance”. I found a church, began to study the bible diligently and over time became a good evangelical Christian. I was a near perfect attendee, a generous volunteer and a sincere seeker of God. I was committed to following all that I was taught.
Fast forward…A couple of years ago something happened in my life (that’s another post for another time) that left me reeling and asking questions about a lot of stuff, including spiritual stuff. Through the course of processing what was happening in my life I began to realize that I thought some of the stuff the church was teaching was wrong or at least misleading. And that began a spiritual journey that I am still on and will probably be on for the rest of my life.
This journey has been a difficult and unsettling one for me. I was accustomed to having answers, being certain and able to argue my case. It seemed like all of a sudden all I had were questions, doubt and confusion. I experienced anger, sadness, resentment, shame, guilt and loss. I felt displaced and alone. How could I have believed that I was “in the light” when I had obviously been “stumbling around in the darkness?” How could I keep from being deceived again? What if I was no closer to understanding the light now than I had been before? What was I supposed to do about all the times I had taught the wrong things to others, modeled the wrong things, thought the wrong things, said the wrong things? What was it about myself that made me enjoy the darkness so much that I remained in it for so long? How could I live out my faith in the place I was now inhabiting?
Over time, with the help of many of you in the blogging world, my husband and sons, and a few from my church community, I am learning to cope with the tension of living out my beliefs with enough humility that it doesn’t feel like I am being thrown off a cliff every time I have to come to grips with the possibility that what I believe may be wrong.
I am learning that sometimes understanding the light means saying “I don’t know,” that light doesn’t always equal clarity and that things usually look a lot messier in the light. I am learning that light seems to be a lot more about relationships than about facts and precepts, a lot more about love than law, and a lot more about inclusion than exclusion. And I am learning as Henri Nouwen said: in all forms of light, there is the knowledge of surrounding darkness.
For thoughts and musings from different perspectives check out these posts:
Phil Wyman Darkness: A Thin Place For My Soul
Adam Gonnerman On Being In Darkness
Lainie Petersen What The Mirror Doesn’t Tell Me
Jeff Goins Walking in the Light with Jesus
Bethany Stedman Light is Coming
Julie Clawson Darkness and Light
Kathy Escobar Light- I’ll Take a Sliver Anyday
Susan Barnes and here’s a photo of one I made earlier
Joe Miller Discover Light in Darkness
Beth Patterson Advent: Awaiting the Ancient and the Ever New
Liz Dyer What the Heck
Sally Coleman Light into Darkness
Steve Hayes Lord of the Dark
Josh Jinno Spiritual Motifs of Darkness and Light
KW Leslie Darkness versus blackness
Erin Word Fire and Sacrifice
Ellen Haraoutunian Holy Darkness