This Little Light of Mine . . .

black-candles-840794_640

This little light of mine.

I’m gonna let it shine.

As a girl I sang these words, in a children’s’ choir with our fingers pointed to the sky. Our hands circling. We were the light of the world. And we were to let our lights shine brightly, and constantly for all to see.

This little light of mine.

I’m gonna let it shine.

I didn’t know much about darkness, in my Sunday best at the church that I was born into. As far as families of origin, I sort of hit the jackpot. Two parents who loved me and were proud of me. A church I would still recommend to people in my hometown, sisters who had my back, and grandparents who had not one but two vacation homes so the gaggle of cousins could all fit. I had a lot of light in my life.

Let it shine.

Let it shine.

Let it shine.

As I grew older I knew about darkness, peripherally at least. My dad would sometimes bring people who had been having a difficult time in their life home for dinner. He believed in second chances. He believed in providing them himself. My mom did too, treating the people dad brought home with respect, and figuring out ways for her community college students to pass the required English classes. She often shared with me the ways her students were trying, how the system was failing them, how they were doing it anyway.

Darkness sometimes overtook the people my parents introduced us to. My Christmas money was gone after someone watched our house, an addict we thought was clean. Not all my mom’s friends graduated. Sometimes people called our house drunk or high. We loved them anyway but had strong family boundaries. I knew that the light didn’t always win. I knew it wasn’t that simple.

Once, my dad told me the story of losing all hope for a woman we had spent years inviting into our home, our church, our life. Apparently, he told our pastor he did not believe that she was able to be redeemed. The pastor told my dad that was blasphemy. That no one was ever beyond redemption, that was the point of the cross. There is no such thing as too far gone, as too dark, as unredeemable.

Hide it under a bushel NO!

I’m gonna let it shine.

I never knew a church to hide its light under a bushel, but I would say I often saw them crowded together in a giant lump, each little light coming together to form a massive burning light that lit the corner of those buildings all that light was crowded into.

It was as if the light was being hid by other light. There are only so many candles you can light before one more isn’t going to illuminate anything new. No, I never saw anyone hide their light under a bushel, but I saw plenty of people crowd together in a massive, lit-up lump and turn their back to the darkness.

Until recently I would have attributed this behavior to false righteousness. But now, I think it was fear. I am not quite sure how the people with the light became afraid of the darkness, how someone convinced us that dark can overtake light.

Hasn’t Satan always been a liar?

Don’t let Satan (blow) it out.

I’m gonna let it shine.

My light went dark sometime last fall. One too many disappointments and whoosh, like a quick blow from a child’s mouth, my light became extinguished.

I don’t know that it was Satan exactly, I think life just sometimes gets the best of us. It certainly got the best of me. And there I was, sitting in my own darkness, my eyes still not adjusted to the light. I could not find my way out.

There were many who called to me from their lit corners that I should join them. There were those that mailed me instructions about how to re-light my candles. Still others wanted to tell me that if I just willed it so, my light would burn back up, that I was simply not trying hard enough to fight the darkness.

I couldn’t. I just didn’t know how. It was not until someone else entered into my darkness, sat beside me and offered to re-light the wick as many times as it took. It was only when someone was unafraid of the dark, that I remembered how to be the light. I remembered what this light was all about.

There is no such thing as too much dark, the light cannot be over powered.

let it shine

let it shine

let it shine

let it shine.

Abby Norman

Abby lives and loves in the city of Atlanta. She swears a lot more than you would think for a public school teacher and mother of two under three. She can’t help that she loves all words.She believes in champagne for celebrating every day life, laughing until her stomach hurts and telling the truth, even when it is hard, maybe especially then.

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  • Patrick Bowman

    My husband Patrick suggested I read this blog today and I’m responding through his account. My name is Jan. I am in that place now, an ex husband murdered, a child who committed suicide two years ago and a daughter who has been in a mental institute 11 times because her father was sexual abusing her behind my back , and to top it off she was sexually abused again by employees in the mental institution and now she is suicidal with a lesbian lover. I ask myself many times these days ….. WHERE IS MY GOD IN ALL THIS!!!!! And now my dreams are filling up with nightmares, but I know that God is never unfair and never unjust. On top of all these deep down hurts I pastor a small church with mu husband but am just not feeling it any more so my new husband is taking over mostly all the obligations of a pastor. So it is I am just waiting to see some victories and don’t know if I can handle one more deep hurt in my life.

    • Abby Norman

      Jan. I have no answers for you, but I will sit with you in the dark. I can hold my light next to yours, you can look at mine when you need to or shut your eyes or whatever. This is hard. I cannot begin to imagine how hard. But I am here, and I can re-light as many times as you need. I will be praying for you by name this month, writing it where I can remember it. I am simply praying for God to be near.

    • Terri

      Dear Jan,

      I am so sorry for the loss of your child to suicide, two years is raw, fresh grief, it is brutal. I could feel my body tense and ache for the suffering of your surviving child. That pain rips your heart that is already bleeding. Our son died five years ago, and I remember feeling numb and abandoned. I remember writing that what I needed was someone to sit in the cold tomb of Good Friday with me, so if I may, I will hold you close in prayer and sit with you in this place of nightmares and sorrow. May you have some small gentle moments this week.

    • Oh, Jan, this is too much. I am so, so sorry for your losses. There are no good answers to your question–where is God in all of this. And yet I see your faithfulness in saying “my God”, and in asking your questions aloud, in grieving out loud, in reaching out and saying that you are past your own capacity to heal or bear anything more. I am amazed by that faithfulness I see in speaking your pain out loud.
      And if the idea of being faithful in anyway right now is offensive, that’s okay–I know there is nothing you could say right now that I would judge you for.
      I am beside you. I have walked alongside people who have borne unspeakable burdens (some that sound like what your suicidal daughter). It is awful, and to add to that you being her mother, and losing her sibling–I’m so sorry for the devastation in your family. I am holding your hand and saying _this is not right_. This is not okay, and no one should have to bear these burdens. I am throwing up my hands too and crying for mercy against the darkness in our world.

    • Jan, I am praying for healing for you and your daughter, strength and understanding for your husband. I also pray that your congregation would be compassionate and understanding and come alongside you with nothing but love. May your light shine bright again but until it does we sit in the darkness with you.

    • Oh Jan, This is a heavy weight to bear, so much loss for one life. I’m praying for light, the glorious light of Jesus, one step, one moment at a time, that His light would shine the way forward, that you would find a way to face each day as it comes, knowing that you are held in the hard places by God’s expansive grace and love.

  • Patrick Bowman

    Thanks Abby for the fine blog and to all of you who responded to my wife, Jan. Sometimes just knowing someone is standing with you makes the battle doable. Be blessed.

    • Abby Norman

      You also, be blessed. We are continuing to pray for you and yours.