21 Feb Shedding Light in Dark Spaces
. . . 8, 9, 10! Ready or not, here I come! If I remember correctly, you hide and the point of the game is not to be found. This makes me laugh because most kids I have played with can’t stay hidden. They jump out and reveal themselves not long after we start.
The first game of Hide and Seek was played in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve hid from the Lord. They hid because they were naked, they felt shame, and they were afraid. So their answer was to hide. I started out hiding out of fear and shame, later becoming a choice and a form of protection. I had fooled myself into thinking that I wanted to be hidden, but truthfully deep down we all want to be found, and my heart knew it.
I was sitting on a ball in the floor of my friend’s apartment bedroom bawling my eyes out when I prayed out loud for the first time. I was terrified and ashamed to let go of all that I had kept inside for so long. Once I was finished it felt like I had been playing hide and seek for 10 years and I had finally been found.
“I had fooled myself into thinking that I wanted to be hidden, but truthfully deep down we all want to be found, and my heart knew it.”
My friend had been leading my sorority bible study for a year, and I had been attending faithfully yet sitting silently every week. I had become a master at hiding. I had built walls so high and thick, and nobody was getting in. For years I had been covering up shame, fear, pain, confusion, and guilt. I was sexually abused as a child for many years and through that had become a very secretive, hidden person. I couldn’t open my mouth or let anyone in for fear they might find out. And from that I began to create habits and make choices that reflected a life lived in shame.
I finally hit my rock bottom. I was grasping at anything that would give me life, living my life as a victim. I exhausted myself trying to earn love from people. I looked to things or experiences to identify with, so that I wouldn’t have to identify with who I truly was. I had withdrawn from my family. I was harboring bitterness and unforgiveness that was eating me from the inside out. I was choosing pleasures of this world over any minor thought of eternity.
If only I had known the words of David at the time, as he pleaded with the Lord.
“. . . there is no strength in my bones
because of my sin.
For my sins have flooded over my head;
they are a burden too heavy for me to bear.
My heart races, my strength leaves me,
and even the light of my eyes has faded.”
—Psalm 38:3-4, 10 (HCSB)
My sin was heavy. My shame was heavy. I had no strength left. There was no light left in my eyes. I had been living in a repeat cycle of shame, because even that had become a comforting blanket to me.
David’s prayer was vulnerable and truthful, and it wasn’t until I prayed that night that some truth came out to myself, to a friend, but ultimately to the Lord. The very words that I had kept in the dark that were bringing death to my life, are the same words that were brought to light and gave me life.
“I had been living in a repeat cycle of shame, because even that had become a comforting blanket to me.”
Sometimes with our friends or during our studies we will refer to those years in my life as the “dark” years. The Lord out of His gracious and loving heart plucked me out of my weakest moment. Romans 5:6 says, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (NLT). “Utterly helpless” could not have described my situation any better. I had been made aware of my sins, but He allowed my heart to believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and forgave me. This love began to become real to me. He brought me friendships that lead me to Jesus and are still shaping and molding me today. He brought me hope in a future that I never thought I would have or deserve because I was too afraid or not lovable.
It was not easy, but with each passing day I began to shed new light into the darkest parts of my heart and soul. As the years went by I realized I didn’t cry as much or feel sorry for myself anymore or feel the need to lie or hide. In Psalm 32 David is rejoicing, and he recalls that when he was silent how fragile and heavy he was, and yet now he is rejoicing in forgiveness and the power of acknowledging his sins to the Lord and to others. Continuing to shed light meant practicing the action of acknowledging to the Lord and one another. These people were truly in the muck and the mire with me, and it required an obedience and willingness to shed light in dark spaces, break down barriers, and implement vulnerability into a lifestyle of hiding. When my best friend heard the rest of my story, her response was that she loved me even more—that was so shocking to me at the time. I didn’t understand how all the brokenness and gross sins that I was ashamed of could lead someone to love more. But it wasn’t her human instincts that caused her to love me more, that was Jesus in her, and I am so thankful for her love of Jesus.
“These people were truly in the muck and the mire with me, and it required an obedience and willingness to shed light in dark spaces, break down barriers, and implement vulnerability into a lifestyle of hiding.”
Our stories are the beautiful reminders of God’s goodness, grace, and love. All of this is part of my story, the story He gave me. The Lord has done a great work in my heart, and to be reminded of where I came from to where I am now is such a humbling moment; yet still far away from being everything He has for me. He continues to give me the gift of an awareness of my sin and brokenness and also a community full of strength, encouragement, and challenge. My hope and prayer is that I won’t have another season of life characterized by the “dark” years— only years that are full of the light I’ve been given. I once was lost, but now I’m found.