Darkness: 1) the partial or total absence of light; 2) wickedness or evil
I once had a dream about Death.
I dreamt that Death came to me and wanted to be my friend. Seriously. Like black cloak, big scythe and everything!
Death explained that it was just misunderstood and wasn’t so bad. It wanted to be friends!
You may be thinking that I sprinkled some cheese on a hot curry and popped some malaria tablets to come out with that dream but I’m lactose-intolerant and I don’t have malaria, thank you very much!
Clearly a messed up dream but it does describe something I see some people get into.
The more I reflect on this and look at the lives of the people around me, the more I think it needs bringing up. It’s probably going to be quite hard to articulate so I’ll do my best and ask for grace for the rest.
I’m not really too sure what to call it but I’m gonna call it Befriending Darkness. Sounds like a cool band name right? Well that’s partly what I mean…
Come on, don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about… Okay in fairness you might not because it looks really different for different people.
It’s basically adopting, nurturing and maintaining an attitude that is mostly dark and negative and just sort of nestling into it as a way of life. Now before you light your torches and pick up your pitch forks to mob the guy being insensitive to the mentally ill, I’m not. Some people are more prone to this than others for different reasons. But I do think this is something to think about in upholding and defending our mental health.
I should probably explain what I mean by Dark…
For one person it might be feeling a strange drawing towards the macabre and super creepy stuff. Like spending ages online watching videos of eerie stories about gruesome or mysterious deaths.
For someone else it might be just straight up hating people by default and being okay with it. Like everyone, even people you’re meeting for the first time or that you’re glaring at across the library because they forgot to leave their “lols” at reception.
It could be wallowing in sadness through melancholy songs, mournful poetry and grey-scale paintings in the name of art. Or developing an obsession with supernatural horror movies and dressing like you’re an extra from one.
Your thing might be making playlists entirely out of Old School Paramore, My Chemical Romance, Evanescence and Death Cab for Cutie* to scream/cry along to in the park.
While it’s raining.
Okay so maybe you’re not an angsty teenager from the early 2000s but you get what I’m saying right? (This was pretty much my iPod between the ages of 15 and 19)
I understand all of that just sounds like I’m trying to say that Christians should always wear white and smile and look happy while listening to Chris Tomlin and Rend Collective. I’m not. This is more about what’s going on inside than what it look like on the outside.
Happiness is not the main goal of our Christianity and things get real weird when we make it that. But joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit working in our lives and so we should expect to see it regularly in the midst of our other difficulties.
The world has gone mad lately. There’s a lot of darkness out there and it looks to be getting darker. There seem to be plenty of reasons to be angry, to feel hopeless, harden your heart to feel less pain (BAD IDEA) or to sink into depression. But that’s not what we’re called to.
“Life is not all sunshine and rainbows and we shouldn’t pretend that it is but there is a Sun and it does make rainbows out of the rain.”
I have no clue what personal struggles you’re going through and challenges you’re dealing with. But I do know that sometimes it can just feel so exhausting to fight against the darkness as it tries to make its way into your own soul.
I think a lot of us get tricked into tolerating this darkness in our lives. It may come in the guise of philosophical beauty. “Death is the one thing that joins us all. Isn’t that beautiful?” No. Death is not beautiful. It is the last enemy to be destroyed by God who is Life.
It might promise to heal your wounds. “Ssh, I know you’re hurting. I can help. I’ll keep you safe until the pain goes away.” Rubbish. That’s a great way to get Isolated.
Darkness may even try and ally itself with your own personality. You might always be seeing the flaws in things and feeling reminded of your own shortcomings but it can feel quite romantic or poetic to play the tortured soul and that can make it so much harder to let go of. It can give you a feeling of identity and you may worry who you would be otherwise.
Maybe you experience this constant onslaught regularly. You might have some good days but sometimes it can feel unrelenting, like a siege against your soul and it feels easier to just throw up a white flag and open the gates and let it roll in because maybe that will give you some kind of peace because at least you won’t be fighting all the time.
Have you noticed how when you’re hurting it can sometimes help to know that someone else has been through or is going through what you’re dealing with? This can get unhealthy really quick if you set up shop there. You can start drawing a kind of pleasure from other people’s pain and thinking “Isn’t heartbreak beautiful?” No. Heartbreak is not beautiful. But God loves to drew near to the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.
Please check out Hurting and Healing for more thoughts on that.
Darkness VS Light
I feel like Isaiah’s words about darkness covering the land and the people seem pretty apt right about now but so do his words about God’s glory:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.”
– Isaiah 60:1-2
It seems to me that now more than ever this planet needs to see the glory of God. The diagnosis of darkness is given and the cure of light is proposed. But notice the first two words are instructions.
A lot of us are getting weighed down by the darkness of our internal world and the chaos of our external worlds and need to arise. When we try to self-medicate we may feel a little relief in the moment but in the long term, it only feeds it into an addiction, not a solution. Jesus is our Saviour. Nothing else will do.
The light of Christ is there but for us as Christians a decision has to be made. More light means less darkness and more darkness means less light. The two don’t happily coexist so we have to choose and we may have to choose daily. Are you content with where you are? Do you want more darkness to cover you or more of His light to shine in your life? 2 Corinthians 6:14 touches on this. Sort of… Well, not really.
Obviously the context was with regards to relating with people who aren’t Christians but I think when Pablo and Timmy told the Corinthians that light and darkness don’t fellowship together, they made an important point. Their natures are totally different and they actually oppose each other.
We can’t afford to make friends with darkness or we won’t fight against it. God is light and there’s no darkness in Him. We’re His kids and although we may experience flickers of brokenness because of sin, we’re still the light of the world and being transformed on the daily to shine brightly to reflect His light.
Remember, if we have turned away from sin and received forgiveness and grace from God then He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). Game changer!