I’m an over-thinker. Even as I write this, I am sitting here in my bedroom overthinking about how to stop overthinking. Sometimes I wish my brain would just stop.
For example, rather than wake up this morning and think about what I might like for breakfast (like a normal person would), I started thinking about everything that is wrong with our world – the hurt and brokenness, the conflict and confusion. I am intensely experiencing all these emotions on a personal level at the moment. And I know those emotions are filtering the way I am seeing the world. It’s dull and colourless, like a black-and-white Instagram filter! Thankfully, I’m not in the deepest depths of depression any more, but I am struggling to see the light in the darkness right now.
I know many other people face this same struggle. Here’s a little statistic for you: one in three people experience depression at some point in their life. So chances are, either you yourself or someone close to you will go through it – and they are both painful positions to be in. Or maybe you’re just going through a really tough time – it happens to us all. And those times are completely rubbish, aren’t they?
But, did you know? Although dark and difficult times feel like a curse, they can also be a blessing; an unwelcome blessing, but a blessing all the same. Let me try to explain this paradox…
I don’t like the dark (I had a nightlight in my bedroom for ages!). However, without the darkness, you cannot appreciate the light. I vividly remember the dark night I realised this. It was a sort of epiphany (great word, epiphany!). It was one evening in May a couple of years ago when I didn’t want to live anymore. My Dad took me out to Seasalter to help me try to clear my head. It was dark. To me, the world seemed empty. But Dad pointed to the stars in the sky and the lights whizzing past on a nearby train, trying to get me to appreciate these simple things. And I was overwhelmed. “Wow!” The stars and the lights of the train stood out so brightly against the backdrop of the night. If it wasn’t dark, I wouldn’t have been able to see and appreciate those lights. And on that night, those lights may have just saved my life.
Of course, at the end of that dark night, the sun rose – as it does every morning – and drove away the darkness which had terrified me so much.
A very wise man once said this:
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.” Albus Dumbledore
If you hadn’t picked up on this yet, I am using examples of physical light as a metaphor for positivity and goodness. I think Dumbledore was doing the same thing – great minds! Along with positivity and goodness, light is always present in our broken world and our broken lives. But sometimes finding it, seeing it and focusing on it is hard work – because it’s not a passive thing: it’s a choice. It’s our choice.
Another very wise man said this:
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jesus
I don’t generally talk about my faith in my blog posts – and I promise I’m not going to start preaching at you now! – but I am open about the fact that I’m a Christian. Different people find their their ‘light’ in different places, and my faith is where I find mine. Jesus’ words are not just cosy words. They acknowledge that the world is a dark place and there is a need for light. Looking at the state our world is in today, I’m sure you’ll agree with that, whether you’re a Christian or not.
So, is there light in the darkness? Yes, there is. There really is.
When we experience emotional darkness in our personal lives, of course darkness will taint the way we see the world. But, if we manage to pull ourselves together for a moment (and, trust me, this is possible, even if you’re feeling like a complete and utter mess!), we can chose to see the light. And – perhaps more importantly – we can decide to be the light.
There is darkness in our world. But by being little lights, we can be positive and good people who help make the world a bit better – a bit brighter. In any and every situation we find ourselves in, we all have the power and potential to illuminate life’s little beauties. And that really is a wonderful thing.
So, do as wise old Professor Dumbledore said: turn on your light. Glow in the dark!