Reading in the evenings before bed is one of my favorite ways to relax. Typically, I try to read something entertaining or uplifting to help me wind down at the end of the day and prepare for restful sleep.
My husband is a reader too. While reading might not seem like a “shared” activity, we often pause to share a funny or interesting quote from our books; sometimes filling each other in on a plot twist, an interesting, yet useless fact or something we learn from our readings.
When I read at night in bed, I like to use a clip-on book light. Like a three-way light bulb, it has three settings: bright, brighter and “I’m attempting to signal space here”.
The most common setting for me is “brighter”. My husband likes this one too because it illuminates a portion of his book as well, just enough to allow him to keep his bedside lamp on a dimmer, more relaxing setting.
But, on the nights he’s ready to fall asleep before me, I turn my light down, so it doesn’t keep him awake. Because, no matter how I angle the lamp’s head, he’s so close that, inevitably, the light spills over onto his side of the bed. Turning it down allows him to slumber and me to continue my reading.
Lately, (read “always”), one of my favorite things to read about is the power that examining our own stories and struggles can have, not only on our lives, but on the lives of those closest to us.
And just last night, while reading on that exact subject, it occurred to me that having the courage to examine our own stories and struggles is a lot like using a clip-on book light.
When we’re willing to shine a light on and then share our stories and struggles, that light will inevitably spill over into other people’s lives. A little bit of our light can be just enough to help others see for themselves; to help them say “oh, yes! I have struggles. I need help with too. I have a story to tell as well!”
If we are willing to let light shine on the places we’ve tried to keep hidden, it can give others permission and encouragement to do the same. It’s a place where we can find shared grace. Not the kind of grace that lets us get away with something.
But the kind of grace that helps us get through something.
I think that’s what drives me to keep using my out loud voice. Even in the darkness of fear and doubt. Even when shame tells me to “sit down and stay silent.”
In those moments when I’m tempted to hide, it’s the hope that I not only can find freedom, but that I might get the chance to play some part in others finding it too.
My hope is that in finding the courage to shine light on and then share my story and struggles, along with what has helped me, some of that light will spill over onto your story too.
Just like all those beautiful souls in my life (and in those books I read) have had the courage to do for me on my journey.
My prayer is that you will be able to see things that perhaps you haven’t seen before in your story. Perhaps a “me too“ moment, or an “I thought it was just me!“ or even an “Hey! I can that too!“
(Cuz you know what? You can.)
Ultimately, my prayer for you is the same as it is for me. That The Light will shine upon your story and your struggles. Illuminating the areas that once tried to stay hidden.
Because He provides the ultimate source of light for healing, and the grace needed to go through it.
I also pray you find a safe place to share your story and struggles.
May it bring you freedom.
And when that happens? Then my bright, beautiful, freedom-finding friend, Shine your light!
Spill. It. Out.
Help others out of their darkness the way someone has helped you out of yours.
Pain shared is pain divided. But healing shared? Well, that is hope and freedom multiplied.