Hiding in the Dark
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them . . . But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Ephesians 5:11-14
Somewhere along the line, I learned that I could get away with certain behaviors as long as no one discovered them. I knew they were wrong and initially I felt bad about them, but once I was rewarded with immediate gratification and I didn’t get caught, the behavior was reinforced. With repetition and continued secrecy, my conscience grew to tolerate the behaviors. Living with a closet full of skeletons became normal – as long as I could keep the door closed and the lights off.
At that point, the only thing that could reawaken my sense of guilt, was for the door to be opened and for the light to invade my closet. Living in the dark though, my eyes became accustomed to it. I grew to fear the light because I knew how bad it would hurt. The light actually became my enemy. In this condition, I embraced the darkness, doing and saying anything to keep it concealed.
Most of us have done this in some way – hiding our deepest, darkest secrets. We do this to protect ourselves. We all have thoughts or actions that we keep concealed to shield our conscience. Light eventually finds its way in though, at which point, our shame is exposed. When the light bursts in, we have two choices. We can either change, which is painful and difficult, or we can simply grow accustomed to the new level of shame. Both options are miserable, which is why we try to keep our secrets hidden.
In today’s passage, Paul exhorts us to abandon those things that we hide in the dark. This is a pretty good rule of thumb for any thought, word, or behavior. Would I do this if my parents, my pastor, my spouse, or my children were watching? If the whole world could see me, would I still think it’s a good idea? If it’s something we desire to keep hidden, then it’s probably something we shouldn’t be doing.
Though it’s tremendously difficult to do, confession is the act of voluntarily shining a light into my own darkness. This is where a group of close confidants is invaluable. Personally, I meet weekly with a group of guys with whom I can be honest about my ongoing struggles. in doing so, I choose the light. Yes, the light can be uncomfortable at times, but it’s not my enemy and if I want to know the life for which I was created, I must daily choose to live in it.