Open to the Light – a prompt and a prayer

In the online world, this is the time of year when prompts proliferate. Prompts about achieving your goals, creativity prompts, journaling prompts, prayer prompts, writing prompts. They’re meant to help us restart the dead batteries of our willpower, refuel our imagination, and re-inspire our hearts.

Usually, I’m all in, especially with the writing prompts. Anything to get these stiff fingers flying across my dusty keyboard.

 

Re-words

 

So, I signed up for the first writing prompt challenge I came across and then “promptly” got stuck on day two.

The word prompt for that day was “light,” a word I’d carried around in my heart, studied and written and spoken about many times before, so it was odd that I felt so much resistance to write about it now.

Throughout the day, I scrolled through my Instagram feed to read the thoughtful offerings shared by my fellow writers, and to gaze at the photos they chose. The variety of their words was diverse and personal, the photos captured an array of images of light—brilliant, piercing, soft. Lovely.

Still, I found I had nothing to say. Or perhaps I had way too much to say in a 2,220 character Instagram caption. Meanwhile the light of day turned to night and I stayed silent. I thought to myself, “I’ll jump back in tomorrow.”

 

Fast forward to tomorrow’s (Wednesday) word prompt: OPEN

 

HopeWriters

OPEN!

 

Aha! Light bulb moment. The reason I hadn’t written or responded to the prompt about light was because at that moment I wasn’t seeing any light.

I wasn’t open.

First, the opening. Then, the light.

 

The prompts should have been reversed.

 

There has to be an opening in order for the light to shine through.

 

There has to be an opening in order for the light to shine through.

 

Openness and light are both themes in my life. Makes sense, being that I’ve spent a lot of time closed and in the dark. God had to crack me open to let His light shine in.

 

“There is a crack in everything… that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen, Anthem.

 

Even at this very moment, writing this post, I’m struggling to be open with you because I’m afraid if I open up and write about this subject I’ll expose the cracks in myself. The brokenness, the shame, the fear and so it’s easier to just stay closed, to write on a surface level, to come up with some kind of formula to help you on your own path to openness and light.

 

Except I don’t have a formula. Sorry.

 

I’d love to shut my laptop and just go work on a watercolor right now. No pressure there … just the delight of swooshing color on paper. No fear of you seeing what am amateur I am. But even with this new hobby, I’m learning that openness and light are everything.

First, I have to be open to the fact that right now my paintings don’t look the way I want them to. What I see in my head can’t seem to find it’s way onto the paper. I have to be open to being a beginner.

I couldn’t figure out why my paintings looked so flat and then I found out it was because I was flooding the paper with paint and not leaving enough open blank space for the white light of the paper to show through. That’s what gives it dimension. Huh.

 

Watercolor

 

 

Blank space. Cracks. Openness.

 

Compelling but not comfortable for this control addict.

 

I want to fill every inch of blank space on every page of my life; cover up all the cracks and close myself off to all the scary dark stuff. And here God comes with words like a pry bar:

 

Open up your heart, Susan.

Open up your schedule.

Open your mind.

Open your arms.

 

Life isn’t random, friends; there are no coincidences with God. When He wants you to learn something, he’ll use anything and everything, anyone and everyone to get your attention.

So, no surprise at all that the first session of a video series I signed up for this week about transforming your life started off with a discussion and exercise about being open.

Of course, it did.

Honestly, I’m ready to move on from writing about this. Mostly because I think you might be tired of hearing me go on and on about all the times I was in the dark (she’s a Christian; why is she always in the dark?) and all the ways I lived hiding and closed. Lighten up, Sue! (Pun intended.)

I write and speak about it a LOT.

 

How I was like a turtle closed up in its shell and the Lord invited me to come out and live in the open with Him.

 

Hiding in your shell

 

How my response to anxiety was to curl up in a closed fetal position and pull the covers over my head—and the Lord nudged me to roll over and stretch my arms open.

 

Photo credit Kristina Wager Unsplash

 

About how in the darkest time of my life I was led to get up every morning at 4am, come downstairs, light all the candles and read all the scriptures about light.

 

Light arises in the darkness for the upright

 

But I don’t think I’ve told you this story:

 

At the beginning of that dark season I mentioned above, I was driving home alone from the coast. The storms clouds were gathering, both figuratively and literally. I watched the sky anxiously, because I’m afraid of driving in the rain. One cloud looked particularly ominous. I kept my eye on it for miles, praying for it to dispel.

 

As I came around a bend in the road, I watched as the middle of the cloud gradually started to break up and open into the shape of a cross.

I gasped as the light of the sun poured through.

 

The cracks are how the light gets in

Photo credit Samina Hussain Unsplash

My soul broke open in a new song:

 

“There’s a light shattering the darkness.

There’s a light arising in my soul.

There’s a light that beckons me to follow.

Heals my heart and makes me whole.”

 

We can’t dispel the darkness by ourselves. All our self-efforts to brighten up our lives are just harsh, man made security lights.

 

We can’t even be open to the light without Christ. The way to light is the way of the Cross.

 

The way to light is the way of the Cross. Click To Tweet

 

The position the Lord was nudging me to assume when I lay crouched on my belly, trying to protect myself from feeling vulnerable?

That arms-stretched-to-my-sides, wide open position? Know what that was?

 

The Cross.

Cruciform.

Surrendered.

 

Arms wide open

Photo credit Zachary Olson Unspash

The only way you can truly surrender is if you truly believe that God is for you. That He is good. Click To Tweet

 

My journey from darkness to light began when I surrendered my pathetic attempts at safety and security and became open to experiencing both the vulnerability and the joy of the Cross.

The light is always there, waiting for us to open our hearts and receive. As my friend, Gem Fadling writes in her book, What Does Your Soul Love? we must ask ourselves how open we are to being fully formed into the image of Christ. Are we willing to entertain the idea that we do not know everything? Are we prepared to receive whatever God is bringing to us? To grow, change, to be transformed?

 

Let’s pray together:

Father, we long for your light; we want to experience the warmth of your Presence, to be guided by the light of your Word, to be transformed into the image of Christ. But first we must be open and so we ask for your grace and mercy to help us to be willing to sit in the darkness and ask ourselves these hard questions. Thank you that even in the darkness, especially in the darkness, you promise to never leave us or forsake us. Amen.

 

 

 

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