Stuck in the dark?
Originally appeared online in the teen series: Q&A - July 21, 2020
Q: I feel stuck in the dark about my life—frustrated, hopeless, afraid. Help.
A: We think of darkness and light as being two sides of the same coin, but are they? For a planet, the answer is yes. But not for a ray of sunlight. To the ray of sunlight there is no darkness. Its entire identity is light.
When we feel like we’re in the middle of darkness—struggling with doubt, confusion, or depression; feeling lost or panicked—identifying with the ray of light can help. A lot. Jesus knew this. He once said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12) and, “I can of mine own self do nothing” (John 5:30).
Sunbeams don’t choose to be sunbeams; they just are. They can’t help but be full of light because their source is full of light. And they can’t be different than their source. Sunbeams also don’t choose which way to shine or what to shine on. The sun has that role.
In this analogy, if the sunbeam represents us, the outcome, then the sun represents God, the very good “Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). So all the good we are—all the light we express—must be steady, permanent, and secure, because God, the source of that goodness and light, doesn’t ever change.
When we feel like we’re in the middle of darkness—struggling with doubt, confusion, depression—identifying with a ray of light can help.
A healing I had once helped make this idea very real to me. I’d hurt my knee while dancing. I wasn’t able to move normally or, of course, to dance. I’d had other healings through prayer before, so my first response was to pray the way I’d learned to in the Christian Science Sunday School. I prayed a lot, and a Christian Science practitioner also prayed for me. I read and studied everything she suggested, including passages from the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, all of which were helpful and inspiring. But after more than a week, there didn’t appear to be any improvement. I felt frustrated and in the dark about how to move forward.
Finally, I got tired of this and went to dance class anyway. I still couldn’t straighten my leg, but I figured I might be able to do something simple. As I stood there in a lot of pain, a sudden thought came shining in: “You were never the source of your ability. It was always God. Always.”
I reasoned from there that if this was true, then none of that ability, freedom, strength, flexibility, or grace could be taken away from me, either—any more than a sunbeam can decide not to shine. That gave me courage and humility, and I felt I could finally move forward and out of the fear and frustration. As it turned out, I was able to do most of the “barre” that day and move a bit in the center work, and in a few days I was dancing, and even performing, with freedom and strength. I had learned a lesson in being a ray of light.
Since God is All, really and truly, then I don’t even have the power to be in a dark place mentally.
I love the way Mrs. Eddy describes our light-filled nature, and the reason for it, in Science and Health: “Man is not God, but like a ray of light which comes from the sun, man, the outcome of God, reflects God” (p. 250).This helps me when I feel like there is a dark side to life: feelings and fears that make me wonder if I really am connected to God, to good. It helps because, as I look at that fear or doubt or hopelessness, I can ask myself, “Is that planet thinking or ray-of-light thinking?”
Clearly, it’s the planet perspective. The one that looks toward the sun, rather than out from it; that sees itself as an independent force (good and bad), with dark and light phases. That’s when, through prayer, I recalibrate my thinking and remind myself that since God is All, really and truly, then I don’t even have the power to be in a dark place mentally. I am always, actually, full of light. Full of joy, purpose, strength, health. Not just for half a day, or here and there, but forever.
Letting go of planet thinking allows us to see who and what we really are, and that we are completely dependent on God for our life, our direction, our hope, and our happiness—just like a ray of light.