Today we are talking about light. And boy, don’t we all need a little light in our life these days?
The past couple of months have been super challenging. I know that I am not the only one that feels this way. It’s ironic because back in February before all the craziness started, I felt better physically, mentally and emotionally than I had in a very long time. Stronger. More equipped to fight off the adversary. More confident, after struggling for so long to regain what I felt being diagnosed Bipolar, had taken away from me. Courage to face the challenges that would come my way. Little did I know what myself and others would be facing over the next several months.
Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you, doesn’t it? I don’t know if there is anything that could have prepared us for what we have all been through over the past several months. And on top of the many circumstances that each of us have faced together, many have had to face the normal day to day challenges and inevitable trials that unexpectedly would come our way in our so-called “normal” pre-Covid life.
As I have been struggling, I have been searching for ways to pull myself out of the funk that I have been in. To find the light. Sometimes, in this ever darkening world it gets harder and harder to find the light. We start to ask questions such as who am I? Where am I going? What is my mission? Do I even have a mission? Do I matter? What is my purpose in this life? These are questions that we ask ourselves in times of darkness. Or when we are really struggling to find the light. The light of Christ. The light within ourselves. The light of others. So how do we answer the tough questions? How do we find the light?
Well wouldn’t you know it as I have been pondering these questions, especially the last couple of weeks, God came through with something that I needed. And maybe you need it too so I thought I’d share. It’s important for me to say that it didn’t just happen. I have been praying for days to feel better and re-gain that strength and faith and courage that I had just a few short months ago. As I have mentioned many, many times, we can’t just wait for it, we have to look for it and ask for it.
In Matthew 7:7-8
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
And so I thought I would just put that to the test, as I have on many occasions. It is such a great promise from the Lord. And the Lord will never let us down.
And so I asked Him. Where do I find the light? And when I asked I realized that the first step was exactly what I was doing. To look to the light for answers.
In John 8:12 we read
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
Jesus Christ our Savior is the ultimate example of light and hope. He is the giver of light, the light of the world. So merely by looking to Him and asking Him for help will bring a measure of light that can’t be found elsewhere in this world. How reassuring is that? He is our exemplar and our strength. He is the “light in the darkness”.
From the words of the Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
When we choose to follow him and make Him the center of our lives we are choosing to become like Him. Our fears will be replaced by courage and we will have a desire to reflect that light in our own lives.
In a talk given in October of 2015 by President Thomas S. Monson, says, “To each of you, I say that you are a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. You have come from His presence to live on this earth for a season, to reflect the Savior’s teachings, and bravely let your light shine for all to see.”
Upon reading that, immediately a quote came to mind that I used to repeat over and over when I was practicing daily affirmations (which is probably a practice I should return to. It can be so helpful.), it goes like this “There are two ways of spreading light, to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it!”
How do we find the light again? The way is simple, we can find our light again by looking to the Savior for guidance and peace and by following the path he marked for us.
President Monson goes on to say “Life is perfect for none of us, and at times the challenges and difficulties we face may become overwhelming, causing our light to dim. However, with help from our Heavenly Father, coupled with the support from others, we can regain that light which will illuminate our own path once again and provide the light others may need.”
So then I thought about the mirror or reflection, and I was reminded of the scripture from the sermon on the mount.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.
And then in 1 Timothy 4:12 … but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
So in essence we draw our strength, our light, from the Savior and then reflect that light to those around us. And you know the crazy thing about that is that when we do that, the light comes back to us. It’s like a boomerang effect. The more you throw out light, love, peace, kindness, the more you are filled with it yourself.
I have thought about this phenomenon and also of the opposite which would come from the adversary. Satan would have us remain in isolation, loneliness, and darkness. Questioning ourselves and what our purpose is. He would love nothing more than to have us succumb to depression, to anger, to bitterness. But that’s not who we were meant to be. That’s not who we were created to be.
We were created to be lovers of light. Lovers of “The Light” our Savior who completed the ultimate sacrifice for us. Who suffered for all the hurt, pain, and loneliness that we feel. We were created to be givers of light! Our purpose is unquestionable in my opinion. Our purpose as believers of our Savior is to bring that light of Christ to others. That’s it, that’s our purpose!
Now our mission or our calling is different and that’s a whole other show. So we can talk about that another time.
But, our purpose is to remember that there are two ways of spreading that light, the light of Christ. To be the candle, OR the mirror that reflects it. That’s the boomerang effect. We can BE the light to others. But, we can also REFLECT that light that is given to us through others’ light. It’s so cool how that works! Whatever you send out into the world be it love, kindness, peace, it is going to bounce back to you!
Unfortunately, the boomerang effect can work in the opposite way as well concerning darkness. If we dish it out negativity, ill will, anger, and contention, we get it back. That is not God’s way. There is only one place that all of that comes from. And that is Satan. He would have us believe that evil is good, and good is evil. Isaiah warns of this when he says in Isaiah 5:20
20 ¶ Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
But let’s not dwell on this because it truly is not God’s way.
President Monson went on to say. “each of us came to earth having been given the light of Christ. As we follow the example of the Savior and live as He lived and as He taught, that light will burn within us and will light the way for others.”
Now I am going to get a little vulnerable and tell you an experience about how letting your light shine affected me in such a big, big way.
When I went through my divorce 10 yrs ago, I really struggled. It was a terrible time trying to figure out what to do and where to go next. And I was bitter. I’m not going to lie about that. I had friends that I felt abandoned me when I needed them most. But I tried really hard not to let that influence my decisions, but it truly did shake my faith. It was one of the reasons that I walked away from my church. I felt that if that was the way members of my faith acted when someone needed them most, then that wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of. I felt that the people in the church should be that reflection of what we preached about each week. Of our Savior. And I knew that my Savior would never treat me that way. I moved out of the area and subsequently went to a different building of the same faith. I was welcomed there but I still felt that touch of judgement when people learned of my divorce. But I kept going because I knew my Savior didn’t feel that way about me. I tried so hard to stay close to my Savior. But it got harder and harder as I felt more and more ostresized. Looking back, it wasn’t so much their fault as it was mine. I could have been more forgiving of the way that I was treated. But I was hurting and sometimes when people are hurting they don’t look at things in a logical way.
Any way, When I moved to Nashville in 2012 there was a certain woman who truly stood out as a light for me from the Savior. She lived in my neighborhood and every time that I did come to church (and it wasn’t that often) she made sure that I knew that she knew that I was there. She reached out and tried to find things in common. She was a lifeline making a mark on my life that literally saved it, when the time came. When I went through my health problems, she was the one that I knew I could reach out to. She was the one that I knew, no matter what she was doing, would drop everything to come to my rescue. And she did. When I suffered through my two back to back times in the hospital she was there to help pick up the pieces. She probably didn’t even know how much her small acts of kindness changed my heart. Many, many times I remember her being so friendly and kind and doing her best to make me feel welcome and loved. She was such a light in my life when I really, really needed it.
Looking back, I can’t blame those friends for not reaching out. Sometimes we encounter awkward situations where we just don’t know how to respond or what to do. But what I have learned through this experience is that it really doesn’t matter how small your gesture. A phone call, a text, a smile, a hug can all go a very long way when someone is going through something difficult and just needs to see a tiny sliver of light.
I can speak from experience when I say it’s not an easy process to find your way back to the light. To trust in and look to the Savior. It takes time, it takes faith, it takes healing. But I promise you that if you can do that, if you can put your trust in Him, He will bring the light back into your life again. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. There’s always a way!
As your faith in Jesus Christ grows and you glean from his example the light can’t help but shine through you. You will be able to help not only yourself, but others who “labour and are heavy laden” to find rest in Him and to find peace. And especially to find that light in themselves again! Because oftentimes that is where the real struggle is.
So…turn to the Savior! Find your light again. And then ask yourself, what kind of mark will I make in the lives of those around me? What kind of light will I hold up? What kind of reflection will I be?
Put some real thought into those questions. Journal about them. Write down your journey towards finding your light. And then, remember all of this as we approach this season of giving and of love when we remember the birth of our Savior. When we come upon a new year and take time to re-evaluate our lives and our priorities. What kinds of changes can you make that will help you to rekindle that light in yourself? And then how can you use that as a boomerang effect so you continue receiving more light? Because if you can do that, I promise you that you will have an endless supply of light in your lamp when the time comes that you really need it. And you will have ample to share with others along the way!