Illuminated

by Emily Clifford

When I was a child, I frequently was terrified of the dark. So terrified in fact that I began to develop an anxiety disorder, performing little rituals that would make me feel safer regarding the unknown threats lurking behind furniture and closed doors. Sleeping under the covers was a must, no matter how hot or embarrassing my situation became.

Perhaps this fear of the dark was more real than I ever realized. As grown ups, we tend to minimize our childish fears, understanding that make-believe monsters under our beds simply do not exist. However, I’ve learned that they are more real than fantasy — that internal monsters can be scarier than any imaginary creatures. We often avoid examining our minds and souls because we are afraid of what we’ll find there, lurking in the dark corners of our being — rejection, fear, isolation, depression — or the toxic effects of our own behaviors that have hurt ourselves and others more than sticks and stones.

When I look at my life, it seems there are two pitfalls to staying afraid. One is the tendency to avoid pain at any cost, turning a blind eye to my hurting neighbors, in Chester or elsewhere, because living in my sanitized, idealistic world is easier to swallow than a plethora of horrific non-fictitious tales. I feel powerless to do anything about them and am uncomfortable confronting them so ignoring them seems to be my only strategy. For them to leave. Become less real. Disappear. But they are still there. Horrors are everywhere — inside and out — no matter if I ignore them or not.

The second tendency I have is to give them power and control. My fears begin to dictate my what-ifs, my potential, my value, and my happiness. They steal from me, and I let them. The darkness becomes my reality. Instead of a safe bedroom to sleep in at night with warm covers and starlight guiding me into sweet dreams, I imagine monsters hunting me down, and it paralyzes me.

But thankfully these two pitfalls are only that — pitfalls. Fear is not my identity or my destiny, as I read ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:13-14‬:

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’”

At Greenhouse Project, we believe the light is the only solution to ridding this world of darkness, pain, and injustice. And that starts inside us. By living with our eyes wide open, we can examine the reality of who we are, who are neighbors are, and the choices we have to fulfill our destinies. Human beings can bring hope or pain into this world. There are no laws against love, charity, hope, joy, peace, patience, selflessness, etc. Focusing on the light is the only think that changes this world — and it starts with me.

Check out our website www.ghproject.org for more information on long-term transformation in Chester.

Emily CliffordComment