As some of you know, we (i.e. Bernd, Jaden and I) spent two weeks in Stockholm and celebrated Christmas and New Year there. Stockholm is a beautiful city especially when the streets are shining bright with Christmas lights. For me the Christmas message of the birth of Jesus, who is the light of the world, takes on a new and special meaning when I see the beautiful Christmas lights of Stockholm that shine so bright in the darkness of the northern winter. Walking through the streets of Stockholm, I have been thinking a lot about the word “light”, what it has meant for me in the past year and what it means for me in this new year. Interestingly it was the theme not only for the message on Christmas Day at Church, but also the topic of many conversations with friends in Stockholm.
It has always been my prayer that God is the light in my life – that He shines through me in all that I do, is the light of hope when I don’t see any and is the guiding light of my life in moments of darkness. What I was totally unprepared for is what comes to light when God shines in the areas of my life where I thought all was well, especially in relationships which seemed to be perfect. As I have mentioned in my earlier posts, a good part of 2016 and 2017 has been very difficult for me. I have struggled a lot with hurt caused by people I least expected it from; with the consequences of people telling others things that were told to them
in confidence; of them lashing out blindly in anger when confronted about it and covering it all under a godly and christian mantle. It has taken a lot for me to deal with the deep gaping hurt caused by it all including professional counselling and reading articles like these; not to mention the financial, emotional and physical consequences of it all (how much this has affected me physically is a topic for one of my next posts). And yet in hindsight, I know it was God shining a light in relationships that I had, showing me things that I would not have seen otherwise.
A good friend Melvin wrote on Instagram the other day “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light”. This made me ask myself – how do I behave when a mistake I have made is brought to light? Do I lash out at someone on social media and then deleting what I have written before many can see it because it shows a side of me that does not fit in with the image I want others to have of me, replacing it with a comment that shows me in a very mature light? Am I afraid of being “exposed”, do I get all defensive, make a “bigger” noise to distract from what I have done and/or am I an emotional bully and use anger to respond?
Or do I sincerely apologise to the person I have hurt and seek to make amends? Do I genuinely care to listen to someone who is hurt to understand them or do I spend all my time telling them that there is something wrong with them for feeling the way they do and shirk all responsibility that I may have?
I have often been told that I am very transparent on social media and in my blogs, that I reveal too much of myself. For me being transparent and genuine is part of what it means to live in the light. It is not always easy because it makes one vulnerable to many things, including well meant advice about one’s life that is sometimes so off the mark and can hurt. Especially since I do not believe in doing something because it is seen as the right thing to do culturally e.g. I do not believe that age or position is a reason to demand or expect respect; I do not believe in ideals like family is everything (on the contrary I have experienced that often it is “family” that uses and abuses the most). For me walking in the light means taking relationships seriously and not having superficial happy-go-lucky relationships; it means distancing myself from groups when I find out that there is gossip going on within the group and that no one has the courage to address discord or issues openly. For me, gossip thrives in darkness and is not a product of light. It also means dealing with the pain and hurt of watching people look the other way when I am wronged, people I had stood up for and taken a clear stand against those who had wronged them. It means knowing that I have been taken for granted and used.
Walking in the light can be lonely sometimes and needs courage and strength. I must admit that I don’t always have it and sometimes wonder why it is so difficult for me not to resort to “easy” ways like telling white lies or hiding under a “perfect” picture. My life
is far from perfect which is why I often tend to correct well meant comments on pictures of Bernd and myself that say we are a “perfect couple” 🙂 Walking in the light also means practical every day things like not cheating on tax returns or on travel costs; not bribing someone to get something done even if it is to do a “good” deed; it is not living for the approval and acknowledgment of people. As someone once said – ” I am not a Facebook status, you don’t have to like me” 🙂
Walking in the light for me means that I continue to stand with and for people who are abused; for those who cannot fight for themselves or don’t have a voice. It means fighting for justice, against inequality and misogyny, and so much more as I have often mentioned in my previous posts.
Having courage and strength to walk in the light also means that you will find like-minded people along the way who will strengthen and encourage you on your journey. We had the pleasure of soaking in the love, warmth and fellowship of like-minded
friends during the last weeks in Stockholm (and on the advent weekends before). If I experienced a lot of hurt and rejection during the past year; the love, hospitality, warmth and acceptance that I experienced during the past weeks was the healing balm that my soul so needed. And it gave me the courage to continue on the path that I chose long ago and to deal with the heavy consequences of what happened last year.
That is one of my wishes for this year – may we walk in the light and if the light revealsflaws and imperfections, may we deal with them and not cover them up with lies or deceit. May we have the courage and strength to address our weaknesses and imperfections, weed out anger and resentment before we become abusers or bullies ourselves. May we have courage and strength to stand up for values, even if they are not popular and make us outsiders to many groups. May we not deaden our conscience by
resorting to “harmless little lies and deceit”. May we stand strong even in the winds of anger, resentment and gossip. May we find the strength to stand alone because we do not compromise on our values. May we find others along the way, who think and believe like we do; who accept and love us because we are transparent and honest about our imperfections.
And may we be the light that brightens many dark lives, gives warmth and hope where there is none- because that is what light does too.
Happy New Year everyone and a special thank you to all our friends in Stockholm for the love, healing, laughter and warmth of the past two weeks!