The lights were out and I was finally curled up tight under seven layers of blankets, and I was still a little cold. The winter moonlight shone through my window, just bright enough to remind me how small I am, but not too bright to keep me up. Just before I turned on my lullaby playlist to woo me into dreamland, I started coughing uncontrollably. Unexpected & unrelenting, I needed a reprieve. Although going downstairs meant braving the cold wood floors on my finally warm toes, it also meant the refreshment of water, so I sucked it up and crawled out of bed.
I subconsciously reached my hand toward my lamp to help me see, but paused just before and decided against it. I was already accustom to the darkness of my room and knew the light would hurt my eyes. I took teeny tiny baby steps and felt around with my hands to make it to the door and down the stairs. There’s a nightlight in the hallway (I guess for reasons like this? Mom thinks of everything.), and I was grateful for it as I embarked on my late night quest around the corner, down the stairs, through the dining room, and into the kitchen.
I was grateful for the just-enough-not-to-stumble light, and even more grateful for the way it refused to offend my quite-comfortable-with-the-darkness eyes. Almost as if it knew I couldn’t bear any more wattage than it was weakly providing.
As I lived it late that night, I remembered my soul sister Emily sharing a similar lesson. She told me that when she turned the light off at the door to her bedroom, she would wait a moment before climbing the ladder to the loft that held her bed. She would wait, she said, “until my eyes adjusted to the darkness.”
We marveled at the reality of our hearts and our longing to do just enough that we have a little light to see, but not enough to eradicate the darkness.
I think it’s the purity of child’s heart that encourages their fear of darkness. Little ones are terrified of what could be lurking in the unknown… in the closet, under the bed, in the hallway behind the door.
But as we grow, we see this sensitivity as a weakness and we try to acclimate to the darkness as quickly as we can. We consider it an inward victory to face darkness with unwavering confidence. No need for nightlights or Daddy’s to assure us our room is monster-free. We’re more than comfortable to be immersed in what we once found repulsive.
Like Emily climbing up the loft, we become quicker and quicker at finding our way, until without realizing it, we’re avoiding the light altogether.
But if I’m honest,
I think I’m afraid of the light.
With the lights on you can see the unpacked boxes I gave up on and shoved in the corner, the pile of clothes unfolded at the end of my unmade bed, and every pair of shoes I’ve worn in the last week, strewn carelessly across the room. You can see what I should have cleaned weeks ago, and you can see it well.
I’m afraid of what will be exposed when the light comes on. The discipline that you should find in my life but won’t. The selfish thoughts and mean-spirited comments. The impatience in tense situations and the desire to promote myself instead of Christ. And worse of all, the fear that always seems to outweigh my faith.
And for that, I like the darkness. I fight to keep my mess hidden well enough that only I can see it.
But the problem with hiding your mess is that you hide everything else too. You hide the goodness, and the joy, and the whimsy. You hide the paintings on the wall and the pictures on the nightstand. You hide the pretty quilt you searched seven stores to find and the happy yellow you chose to paint your room. You hide the glory of a brave heart, braver still for knowing it’s not invincible.