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Even the Brightest Light has Some Shadows

Sometimes those of us with the best intentions, genuine positive outlook and solid track record of being a light in others’ lives – we have our own doubts and can miscalculate. 

Yesterday I found some shadows. I was so focused on the light and trying to shine that light that it kind of took me by surprise. And I didn’t fully understand what happened until later, after some honest self-reflection. 

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You see, I’m one of those people who’s been managing really well with all aspects of the pandemic and stay-home situation. Blessed with good health, two college kids I adore home for some extra time, a husband who has worked from home for nearly 20 years and being someone who loves and finds lots to do at home…I fell into a new rhythm pretty easily. I’m not immersed in creative new house projects, making TikTok videos or crafting shiny Instagram photos of fabulous family games & activities (to be fair, we don’t do too many of those as a whole family anyway). I’m not that extreme. I just haven’t felt too much disruption, too much heaviness, and for that I’m extremely grateful.

I absolutely realize that not everyone feels like I do. I have friends and even family members who are at various points on the struggling – doing awesome spectrum. We all have to do what we can to support eachother and lift eachother up.  

As a matter of fact, we all probably carry at least some glimmer of doubt or concern about this uncertain situation. I’ve had my moments of worry, mostly about staying healthy. But then I’d do lots of research to seek out the facts and worry would dissolve. I didn’t know it lingered inside of me.

So yesterday I found some shadows. A conversation about where things are currently – “lots of reason to hope,” I pointed out – and  someone shared their struggles to do this very limited version of life – “not for much longer,” I pointed out. Although these were someone else’s feelings, for some reason it felt like pushback to the light I was trying to share. I found myself getting a bit defensive, and saying things that didn’t even make sense to me. My own little buried cloud of concern had crept up just when I was listening to the burdens of another, and together they weakened my light. Just briefly, but it was enough. 

By exclusively pushing the “bright side” and hopefulness I was inadvertently invalidating the feelings bravely being shared with me. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t offer hope and shine light. But maybe we should first acknowledge and sit with the struggling feelings of another before jumping right to the “bright side.” 

I momentarily added to another’s fear instead of easing it. When anyone has the courage to open up, it’s so important to make them feel heard and understood. Sometimes the best way to shine our light is to listen to and empathize with the less-than-positive feelings of others. Then, when the time is right, we can gently offer hope and warmly shine our light.

Self-reflection and compassionate discussion helped me to better understand my own feelings, and make amends for being less than gentle with the feelings of another. 

None of us is perfect. If you’ve been able to mostly rise above everything going on around us and generally stay on the bright side – keep shining your light. Know that it’s okay to have some shadows coexisting with the light, and acknowledging them is healthy, both for ourselves and for others. 

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