For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. John 3:20
In my addiction, I engaged in behavior – using, lying, and manipulating – that was completely contrary with my beliefs. This led to what psychology would call cognitive dissonance, a state of internal conflict that occurs when one’s actions are inconsistent with one’s beliefs. In this condition, I either had to change my behavior – which I couldn’t because I was enslaved – or find a way to live with it.
So, I compartmentalized. I hid my destructive behavior in the dark. If I kept the world from seeing my addiction, its existence seemed less real and I could more easily ignore it. I learned to allow my contrary beliefs and actions to exist side by side, simply by refusing to let my toxic behaviors into the light. When my addiction was inevitably dragged into the light, the effect on my conscience was devastating as I was forced to accept what I’d become.
This is the nature of our dark deeds. We think and do things under the cover of night that we would never do in the day. Alone, in our minds, we think toxic, hateful, resentful thoughts. While physically alone, we indulge in self-destructive appetites that we never would if our friends, spouses, or kids were watching. We compartmentalize, keeping our shadowy nature concealed, so we can live with it. We inherently know how bad it would burn if the sun shown on our dark deeds, so we desperately keep them hidden. This is toxic to our spiritual life and recovery. As we live in the darkness, we are, by definition, not living in the light. We can’t chase God away, but we can close our eyes to the burning light of his presence.
For me, I’ve had to learn – and am still learning – to live in the light. Because I did it for so long, it’s still easy to compartmentalize. When I want to eat something unhealthy, it’s habitual for me to wait until no one is around. If no one sees, it’s just not that bad.
Living in the light is to live in such a manner that I don’t care who knows what I’m doing because my behavior wouldn’t be shameful if dragged into the light. If I find myself burned by the light, then my behavior desperately needs to change.