If you’ve been reading any of my blogs, it should come as no surprise by now that I learn from the world around me. There are times when I am trying to actively learn and then there are times, often in the quiet small and unsuspecting moments, when life in its natural process teaches me something big.
The latest big lesson came early last week in a small and quiet moment.
It was early morning and the alarm clock I had set for 6:53 AM was sounding from my kitchen. This was a rare occasion, because unless absolutely necessary (see: early flight, important meeting, etc.) I don’t set alarms. But when I do, they are at odd intervals (never ever will they end in a 5 or 0) and I place them somewhere that requires me to get up out of bed to shut it off. I’ve had 29 years of learning to prove that if my alarm is within arms length of my bed, I will snooze until showering is not an option and running late is practically a guarantee. But I digress.
So there I was pulling myself out of bed. It was dark and the cool temp of my apt was a shock to my system, which very much wanted to stay buried in my oasis that is my feather-filled bed. I made my way to the kitchen, minorly frustrated that the ‘Hey Siri, snooze my alarm’ feature apparently doesn’t work when shouted from my bed, and started to pour myself a cup of water. This was when the lesson started.
It was Monday morning and my sink was full of dishes from the previous night’s cooking extravaganza. Pots, pans, spatulas, measuring cups, plates, bowls, blenders, forks, knives, spoons, you get the idea. And my faucet was stuck on the spray feature. So there I was, fumbling in the dark trying to fill a cup of water with the spray feature in a sink that didn’t have enough room for me to even fit my glass underneath the faucet. Serious room for improvement.
It was decision time. Do I make my life harder by continuing to try to fill my cup of water in a less-than-ideal environment? -or- Do I turn on the little light above my sink and make this whole situation a heck of a lot easier?
Trust me, I wanted to carry on in the dark but dishes were falling and I was getting misted each time the water didn’t make it directly into the glass. So I begrudgingly turned on the light. Which meant that the eyes-half-open-hold-on-Monday-don’t-start-just-yet-there’s-a-chance-I-might-go-lay-back-down moments were over. Instead, I found myself slowly undoing my squinted eyes and adjusting to the world around me. And what was a complicated task mere moments ago was suddenly easy now that I could see what was in front of me.
And that’s when it hit me.
- When have I hesitated to turn on the light because it was more “comfortable” in the dark?
- How many other times had I procrastinated turning on the light and lost valuable clarity?
- Where am I still hesitant to turn on the light because I’m scared of what it might reveal?
The truth is there have been many moments in my life where I hesitated to turn the light on. Partly because I was comfortable, but mainly because I knew that clarity would demand change. Once I turned on the light, there was no going back (to bed or otherwise). Once I turned on the light, I would be forced to see the situation for what it was and not what I wanted it to be. Much like that morning when I turned on the kitchen light, I was forced to accept that my Monday had started and I was no longer living in Sunday’s splendid slumber.
That’s what turning on a light does. It wakes us up. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Sometimes we are ready for it and other times we want to close our eyes, pull the covers over our head, or turn away because we know that once the light finds us it will force us to face reality. The reality of our day, the reality of the darkness, the reality of our situation. And because of this it can be tough to adjust.
But again, much like that Monday morning when I first turned on the light, while unpleasant at first, it made my life easier. Suddenly, I was able to see the obstacles I needed to avoid in order to effortlessly get a glass of water. That’s the power of the light. It provides clarity to otherwise ambiguous situations, it dispels the obstacles that hide in the shadows, and it unapologetically reveals the truth (like the fact that I desperately needed to do dishes).
And in all honesty, I am guilty of hesitating to turn on the light. Not just on that Monday morning but also in the big moments. I can look back on my life and easily provide multiple examples of times where I was quite comfortable living in the darkness. There are situations I am living now where I still prefer the security blanket of ambiguity because without it I will be forced to see a situation for what it is. And unfortunately, there are areas of my life where I have boarded up windows because I’m just not ready to make the changes I know the light is going to require.
In my past, I was comfortable in the dark because I didn’t yet know the beauty and the power of the light. But I do now. And because of that, I am treating my current situations with light therapy rather than a full on flip of the switch. I am learning to respect the light and am making a conscious effort to play a more active role in removing the boards from the windows of my heart and soul. It isn’t always pleasant and sometimes there are parts of my mental and emotional self that shriek like a vampire when first exposed, but ultimately I love the light.
I love the light because it reveals truth. I love the light because it provides a foundation to build an authentic self. And at least for me, I love the light because it has proven to be the most fertile soil for peace. Because of my recently developed love affair with the light, my prayers have started to resemble John Mayer’s ‘Gravity’. I ask God to “just keep me where the light is”. Because that’s where I want to live my life. Awake, aware, authentic, and accountable.
So with that, I want to leave with this bit of encouragement:
Turn on the light in your life. It can be gradual at first, but start the process. Identify areas where you have been clinging to darkness because it is comfortable and instead dare to expose a situation for what it is by reaching for the switch. Allow the light to wake you up. Let it do what it does best, bring you truth. Then let that truth set you free.
Pull back the blinds, pull the cord, and flip the switch,