|Photo by Judith Doyle|
The day had been a long one. I’d missed at least one meal, which is way bad for me, and for everyone around me. (If you look up “hangry” in the dictionary, you may find my mug shot there.) Hubby was on travel, so I’d been alone with the kids all week. They wanted to ride bikes, but couldn’t find their helmets, and it was forty degrees outside and one child still had wet hair from her bath after she attempted in vain to dry it with my hairdryer before combing it, and I was trying to do some preemptive garden cleanup and broke a trellis with my foot and…
I had an episode. In the driveway. As Brent, our new neighbor, pulled up with his three kids.
They hadn’t lived there that long and I didn’t know Brent very well yet.
Fabulous, I thought. He thinks (knows) he’s moved in next to a certified crazy person. He’s wondering if he should call Child Protective Services before the lunatic in her driveway comes completely unhinged and the screaming turns into something worse. He will never let his children play with mine again. And I don’t blame him. I don’t think my children should be allowed to play with me, either.
So I just owned it. Sometimes there’s not enough backpedaling, nothing you can say to explain it away or make it better.
“I’m having a Mommy Dearest moment,” I admitted.
Brent nodded. He smiled. Then he said the Best Thing Ever.
“Have you got any wire hangers? ‘Cause if not, I could loan you one.”
Brent is now one of my most favorite neighbors. And two years later our kids still hang out.
There is an enormous wellspring of power in our words. Toby Mac hits that nail right on its traumatized little head when he encourages us to Speak Life to each other. There’s just too much darkness, pain, and anger in the world already. And we have an unbelievable amount of power to either create more darkness or shine some light into it.
If you’ve ever clicked on a penlight in the middle of the night, you know how even the tiniest beam can obliterate a whole lot of dark.
Hubby and I have been watching a series called The Physics of Light. ‘Cause, you know, we like to relax with a little brain-bubblegum at the end of the day. I’ve learned some interesting things from this series, as well as some things that made my head go schnick!, kind of like when you step out of a warm house into the icy air and your boogers freeze.
For example, as you approach the speed of light, time slows down. Were it possible to travel at the speed of light, time would stop. If that doesn’t make your brain go schnick! you’re not thinking about it hard enough.
And colors exist because of the way waves of light are either absorbed into or reflected off objects. Nothing actually contains any color of its own. (Gosh, what might this suggest about, say, racial prejudice? That may be a whole nother blog post…) Schnick!
And—strap on your seat belts—most matter, including people, is made up almost entirely of nothing. If the atoms that comprise a person were stripped of all their empty space, and only the atoms’ physical material remained, a human body would be the size of a grain of sand. The entire human population of the earth, if so compacted, would have the mass of a single apple.
Light, however, is not made up of atoms. Light is not actually matter at all.
Schnick! Schnick! Schnick!
Wow. Light is an amazingly funky and mind-blowing thing.
(Oh, and… “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” [1 John 1:5].)
So, how do we shine light into a world that is so dark and cold and needy?
We can recognize that we are temporal, finite beings who live inside of space and time. We have a beginning and an end, and often a lot of trouble between the two. But if we could experience life at the speed of light—or the speed of God, if you will—we would have a time-less perspective on our existence. And on others’ existences.
I can’t help thinking that’s what “Live with an eternal perspective” really means. We would view everything in the light of eternity. That’s got to trump momentary impatience, irritation, hangry-ness, every single time.
And we can recognize that without light there is no color. No warm reds of passion, or cool blues of serenity, or bright yellows of joy. And we, ourselves, actually possess no color within ourselves. But light does.
When we shine light into someone else’s darkness, we turn on their ability to once again see the color light creates. When Brent offered me a wire hanger in the midst of my apoplectic breakdown, I roared with laughter. The humor he shared with me completely changed the color of my entire evening. What colors might empathy, support, encouragement illuminate in someone’s life today?
We can also recognize that we—tangible clusters of atomic material—are actually very nearly nothing. But God—who characterizes himself as light itself—interacts with and acts upon everything in ways that humans are only beginning to understand, both physically and theologically.
We’re encouraged to empty ourselves so God can fill us—to let his light shine through us. But really, we’re practically empty already. We just need to accept the reality of that and embrace God’s willingness to fill and shine through us.
It’s only dark when light is blocked by something.
That’s another thing I took away from The Physics of Light: light is not the opposite of dark. Dark is the absence of light, just as cold is not the opposite of heat, but the absence of it.
So unless we choose to live in and live through and reflect light, then we will dwell in darkness and entertain darkness and propagate darkness. Those are the only two alternatives.