Advent devotion: A light to extinguish
There is a pure Light. It’s so miraculous, I cannot look upon it. Nor can I fathom the immense power to cast out darkness. But, I do know that it is there, even when I look away and ponder my own shades of darkness.We all see through our disabled lens of sight. Through various degrees of darkness, we adjust to managing and placating our realities. It’s so limiting that our minds can only absorb this fantasy of control and unbiased perception with distorted experiences reflecting in carnival fun house mirrors as one’s truth. We bump into each other making swift judgments trying to govern our journeys of good and bad—yes, avoiding bad–causing division and breeding more darkness. Unfortunately, we become stuck in our own perception which hinders the brilliance of the unifying light to shine and connect our realities. The darkness comes and we don’t always know what is real because it is dark and images and people seem scary and are not what they really are; yet we all insist upon believing what we are seeing and acting within our own paradigms because it feels comfortable, seems safe especially if there is a group that identifies with this same perception. The paradox is that as darkness swallows our hope and joy, inevitable isolation creates more darkness.
Last year, our son had a traumatic brain injury from playing football and was significantly impacted on the frontal lobe of his brain causing multiple hospital stays, therapy and medication. His personality changed. His emotions which are managed by that area of the brain were out of control causing crisis for our family. This came after we had already steadied ourselves through another family member’s mental health crisis, all involving self-destructive acts. The extended responsibility cauterized my identity lifelines. There were no “normal” family together times and very few people that I could go to for affirmation that life would be alright. But, there were angels all around us checking in, providing support, and lifting us up in prayer. Mental healthiness is on a spectrum; I had to trust in something higher than myself. I had to choose to be more willing to let the light shine upon me and through me purposefully than to passively let the darkness color my world. Life does change for everyone and can be altering as in a child’s pain or death of an existence once known, causing confusion and desperation in the darkness.
The truth is that no one has a perfect mind with perfect perception within the perfect light to overcome a speculative reality. When darkness is thrown at me or casting its long shadow of guilt or shame over unreconciled false hopes, I must look at the darkness in the proverbial eye and recognize that it is an ominous force (sometimes as in the surrounding gale force winds of a hurricane) but I can see in the light. I want to be disciplined enough to make decisions from wisdom and the faith of knowing that the incarnate Jesus came into my darkness and refused to cast me aside or place a misperceived judgment or leave me there alone. I am thankful for that Light that shines in the darkness and that the darkness does not and did not overtake me or my loved ones. Even though we may walk through the valley of shadows, especially in the not knowing, in the no-control, recognizing the darkness means that I know there is a Light that will extinguish it.
Jennifer Weyeneth, is the director of the Davenport Schools Foundation Great Minds program. She is married to Jeff, has four children, and enjoys reading and volunteering in the community, church ministry, schools, and the local animal shelter, owning four adopted fur babies.