Leaving the Darkness

March 18, 2012

John 3: 14-21

Jesus tells Nicodemus in today’s Gospel that the light has come into the world, but that people loved darkness rather than light. Now what sense does that make? Who would love the darkness more than the light? The truth is all of us would in one way or another. All of us have parts of our lives that are unhealthy, perhaps even destructive.  Those negative habits hold us in the darkness. Even though we know that the light is for our good, we cling to the darkness. We choose the darkness over the light.

Perhaps we have been hurt. Someone has treated us poorly or betrayed us, and we cannot bring ourselves to forgive that person. Every time we think of him or her, our stomach churns and our anger rises. We know that holding on to that hurt will lessen our lives. Yet we do not let it go. We choose anger and hurt over freedom. Perhaps we are in an unhealthy relationship. We want to be someone’s friend. We want to love someone. But the person who we are trying to love does not respect us, ignores us, perhaps even abuses us. We know that we should change the relationship, perhaps even leave that relationship. Yet we are afraid, and so we remain in an unhealthy relationship even though that relationship has no freedom and no future. Perhaps we are jealous of others. We compare ourselves to what others have. We want to be what others are. By making these comparisons, we become unhappy because we cannot have what others have. Yet we continue to compare ourselves to others. We will not let go of our jealousy. We choose the darkness rather than the light.

We all have areas of darkness. Yet we keep clinging to what hurts us. What can we do to break this negative cycle? Jesus shows us the way. In the Gospel he tells Nicodemus, “Those who walk in the truth, come to the light.” The way to the light is to acknowledge the truth about ourselves and about our relationship to God. We leave the darkness, not by focusing on the darkness but by focusing on a truth.  The truth on which we focus depends upon the darkness in which we find ourselves.

If we are unable to forgive, the truth on which we should focus is our own imperfection. Have others hurt us? Yes. Was that wrong? Certainly. But, we ourselves are not perfect. We ourselves have hurt others, and we ourselves must depend upon their forgiveness and God’s forgiveness. When we can claim the truth of our own imperfection and our dependence upon the forgiveness of others, it can free us to forgive and to leave the darkness behind.

When we find ourselves caught in an unhealthy relationship, the truth that we need to focus on is our own value. We might not be the most attractive or talented people, but we are people of worth. We are children of God. No child of God deserves to live in a relationship in which he or she is not valued. When we claim our own worth in God’s eyes, we find the courage to change the relationships that are unhealthy and to leave the relationships that are destructive.

When we are jealous of others, the truth on which that we must focus is the truth of being blessed. We might not have what others have, we might not be what others are, but we do have talents, relationships, and real gifts. It is by being thankful for those gifts that we can find joy in the real life that God has given us.

When we accept the truth of our own imperfection, we can forgive. When we accept the truth of our own value, we can leave destructive relationships behind. When we accept the truth of how blessed we are, we can come to find joy in our lives. Now of course, it is not always easy to face the truth and enter the light. But is well worth the effort. If we do not choose to enter the light, our only other option is to remain in the darkness.

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