The darkness was tangible, it swirled around, in, throughout. There was no way to move, no where to go. It was directionless, purposeless, but it thrived.
A flash of light, the darkness recoils. It's a match, burning brightly. Another flash and the darkness hisses in hate. A candle flickers, lit by the match. Then another flash, and another. The darkness broils in anger, now where there was one candle, there are five. The match keeps moving to light more and more candles. Suddenly a light is dimmed. The darkness wind whispers over a flickering flame and the flame dims until now it's just a spark, a smoldering wick. The darkness chuckles as it whispers over another flame, dimming it.
Why do our flames dim I wonder?
Today, this generation of Christians are living in a challenging world. A world that says "look like the rest, get into the flow, don't stand out. Because then people will wonder about you, think you're weird, think you're stupid."
And it effects the Christian life as well as the worldly one's life.
When I was in America a year and a half ago, I felt the need to 'fit in' again after living in Uganda for three years. What are people wearing these days? What should I wear? How should I act? Those types of questions. The thought behind these was "I won't be accepted if I don't fit in. I will be judged in the minds of those people who see me. I will be stared at, I will stand out." And honestly, I didn't want to stand out. I get enough of that in Uganda. I'm constantly struggling with the fact that I have lighter skin than the others. I get stared at if I venture outside the New Hope grounds. I'm pursued in the wrong way for the wrong reasons by people (lots of the time guys outside New Hope) because I'm different. I'm American. I don't belong, do I?
So that's the topmost reason I wanted to fit in. So that I would be able to relax. Not worry about what people think anymore.
Let me tell you, it didn't work that way. When I see pictures of what the girls these days are wearing, I cringe, but underneath it all I think it must be ok if it's accepted by culture (it's not, I know, but that nagging lie is always there). I desire to fit in. When I was in America, I knew that I would stand out if I wore longer shorts, or wore shirts that had a higher neckline, or were longer on the waist. I knew I would stand out if I didn't wear makeup, didn't paint my face so the colors were all you could see.
I knew I would stand up if I didn't cover up my true self. And therein lies the challenge.
Why are the lights being dimmed?
Because we don't want to reveal who we really are.
But if we are Christian, it shouldn't matter if people see us or not, right? We know we are justified. Haters gotta hate, that should be our slogan. Oh but it's so so hard.
I think people all have different reasons that they don't want to show their real selves. I think I have finally dug out the underlying reason for my hesitancy.
My name, Kara, is Swedish for 'dear one'. Or cherished one. I believe Satan attacks us at the very root of who we are. So if my identity is treasured one, the lie the Devil is going to throw at me is "you are not cherished. No one loves you really. Who would ever treasure you? See all these people? They only like you when you're pleasant to be around, or when you're brave and strong and beautiful. But when the ugly, weak side of you comes out, who is really going to want you after all?"
I know this is such a clique thing, where many many many people if not everybody struggles with this. But I think it really is something that cuts to my very core. That means that every rejection, every cold hug or ignorance, every time where I think someone is disappointed in me, every time it seems I'm not good enough at something, every let down and mistake, hits that deep chord.
That's why I cover up and try to fit in. Because of that fear. That's why, I believe, I tend to put my light under a basket. Because I am afraid of people, afraid of being hurt. I'm afraid to shine, because I'm afraid of not being accepted.
But you know what? God CALLS us to be different! He asks us to be a city on the hill, the salt of the earth... and by the way, as far as I know salt and sugar are two very different things. We haven't been called to sweeten the earth and frost it and make everything seem great and desirable, we have been called to sharpen the tastes of things, make the bitter seem even more bitter and the sweeter things sweeter. I sometimes still have a hard time believing all of this, even though I KNOW it's true.
I know I'm supposed to shine, it's who I'm meant to be. But I don't truly believe I can be accepted.
I know I'm supposed to stand out and fight. But I don't believe that God can protect me from those flaming arrows.
Jesus, I need faith! Help my unbelief! How small is my faith!
He's calling you to stand out, to fight for your light, to nurture it and protect it, to feed it and let it shine brightly, cutting back that darkness and trusting God that He's going to provide for you, provide that strength, that trust, that belief.
Go ahead, it's going to be ok. Just let it