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Resolving to be brave for the New Year...

As people make resolutions for 2014, Heather Skull is nervously making a different sort of choice...

Oh dear - here it comes. Another blog from someone who thinks they’re qualified to give their opinions and reflections on the year just gone.

Light in dark places 300There are some things you can set your clock by and that’s one of them.  End of year reviews, the year in pictures, things we didn’t know this time last year, an increase in the number of gym membership offers being posted through your door. Etcetera, etcetera. That, and the inevitability of people making resolutions that they’ll never keep beyond the end of the first week of 2014 is one of those things that this year throws up with irritating regularity.

Does that sound cynical? It wasn’t meant to. It’s just that everyone makes promises to improve themselves, to get fitter or cut down on the things they like most in a bid to lose weight or benefit their liver or their bank balance or they enroll for courses to improve their brain and attend about two sessions before giving up. I’ve no doubt that everyone who makes resolutions makes them from the best of motives. I’m just not sure that 1 January is the best time to make them when we’re at our lowest ebb anyway. 

I have only one resolution that I make pretty well every year and that is to not make any resolutions whatsoever. I know for certain I won’t break that resolution and won’t suffer any pangs of guilt in consequence. It doesn’t mean that I don’t need to make any resolutions – far from it – it just means that I don’t want to do it at a time when I’m least likely to keep it and end up feeling low and guilty as well as fat, broke and unable to climb a hill without pretending to stop and admire the view while hiding my hyperventilation.

However this year I am about to break the habit of an adult lifetime. Not by vowing to take on a whole heap of resolutions I’ve got no way of keeping, but by carrying out an audit. A rather scary audit. Over the past few months I’ve talked a lot about how the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it and I stand by that.

But sometimes the light needs to be deliberately shone into the darkness to show up some of the things we would rather not see. The corners of our lives that won’t stand a light being shown into them. It’s like when the sun shines into my house showing up the cat fur, dirt and dust that I’ve not seen while cleaning up my home. On the surface my home looks clean enough, but shine a bright light under the sofa, the piano or the fridge and it becomes a darker dingier, dirtier picture. And I don’t always like the effort it will involve to clean it up. But if I want light to flood into all the dark places that’s the risk I have to take.

It’s the same with the life that I live.  As someone who wears her faith on her sleeve, whose hope is that the light will overcome the darkness, it does inevitably mean that the light will shine into all the dark places that I might not want to admit to or want to see. The bad habits, the bad attitudes and the bad moments that I wouldn’t want anyone to see.

But walking in the light is a conscious and deliberate decision. It also calls for an act of bravery, for an effort of will and for a recognition that there might be some work to be done to clean up the dirt, the dustballs and the smears of nasty yuckiness hiding in the corners. And it has to be done unflinchingly in the full force of a beam from a lamp held high and shining into the dark places.

Living in the light means just that. A constant and definite path which will show up those things we’d rather not see for ourselves or even admit are even there.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not bear much examining.

But the turn of the year feels like a good moment to put your hand back into the hand of the person who is the Light of the World – even if that light hurts in its unrelenting but loving brightness.

Heather Skull works for the international church-based charity Us and is a member of Trowbridge Baptist Church. She blogs at tractorgirl66.wordpress.com, where this article first appeared

Picture: Nazreth/RGB Stock
Heather Skull, 02/01/2014
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