We live in a world where everyone is obsessed with being seen.
The number of pictures we post daily indicate just how badly we want people to see us, to notice us, to approve of us. If I’m honest, I can admit that I sometimes post from a place of neediness, and I think it’s true for most of us.
I think our need to be noticed has caused us to disdain dark places. Not dark as in sinister, but dark as in inconspicuous, elusive, below-radar.
We all want fame, but I don’t think we know what fame requires. Minister Christine Caine always says that “the spotlight that is on you will destroy you if what is within you cannot sustain you.” Basically, your character, integrity, and skill level must be up to par with the position you want to be in or the weight of popularity and the pressure of not being able to produce will kill you from the inside out.
I’m a writer. Writing is both an art form and a skill. In order to be better at it, I have to practice it. Often.
If I think about it, do I really want influential people reading the writing I did years ago? No. I want to get better at this before millions of people are reading my words. I want time to learn how to use this tool that’s in my hand to the best of my ability.
Do I want to practice writing on an extremely public, influential platform? No. I want to practice it in a place where I can receive feedback and make adjustments privately, where my mistakes aren’t dire and don’t affect anyone but me.
My generation in particular wants the glow up without the work. We want to be on top of our game without putting in the hours it takes to be better. We want to be in amazing relationships without putting in the time and effort required to build these relationships. We want to hold our destiny in our hands but we don’t want to examine our souls and weed out the trash that’s holding us back.
We want all the money without any of the money management skills.
We want all the grace without learning how to forgive.
We want all the attention without developing anything worth paying attention to.
We want to be heard without having anything substantial to say.
In order to get good at a thing you need time, and as much as we don’t like it, we also need a dark place.
We don’t realize that dark places aren’t meant to punish us, they are meant to be safe spaces where we can grow, mature, try, and fail without the pain of outside scrutiny.
Seasons of singleness don’t need to be seasons of loneliness. They can be times when you choose to develop yourself in ways you wouldn’t be able to with a partner. You’re free to grow at whatever pace you please, go wherever you’d like, and explore parts of you that you didn’t even know were there.
The time before your big break isn’t you not being good enough. It’s time for you to develop your craft. It’s time for you to read books and learn all you can. It’s time for you to attend conferences, try different things, make mistakes, and learn from them without it affecting tons of people or ruining your career.
Dark places are where we become in peace.
But dark places can make us feel insignificant. But what if I told you that dark places are purposed places. Dark places are where your faith grows. Dark places are where you are stretched beyond your limits and your faith is fortified in ways you never thought possible. Dark places are precursors to blessed places. But dark places can only work for you if you choose to have the right perspective while you’re in them.
Blessed places require more maturity and responsibility than dark places. Once you have emerged from your process, people will be expecting you to produce at a level you weren’t producing at before. The spotlight will shine on you and magnify all the things you either didn’t address or were working through in your dark place.
Once that light hits you and you are above the radar, your insecurities will be highlighted, your convictions will be shaken, your truths will be tested, your fears will be presented. Everything you wanted to avoid in the dark will not only seek, but most likely find you in the light.
I’m in a dark place right now, and honestly for the first time I am rejoicing. It’s amazing how we will allow comparison and discouragement to rob us of a healthy perspective, which is a higher perspective. A higher perspective is one that takes into account the overall picture, not just what I see right now. It doesn’t make what I’m going through irrelevant or unimportant – it just assigns purpose, and therefore value, to it.
I am going to sink roots in this dark place. I am going to fortify my heart, mind, soul, and body. I am going to come as close to my purest form as possible, so that when the light shines on me, I will have something worthwhile to instill in others.
If you’re in a dark place – somewhere where you’re being overlooked, passed over, rejected, or ignored – you can turn this season into one of acquisition rather than discouragement.
And can I just remind you, lovingly and compassionately, that you never need to be approved of or validated by others in order to be deemed worthy of love and adoration.
Before you were born, before you could ever make a valuable contribution to society, before you had ability or influence, before you became anything, your Heavenly Father already looked at you and put His irrevocable stamp of COMPLETE approval on you.
Not on what you what do or who you would become, but on your honest essence, on your most sincere self, on your authentic identity. This is why He can love us no matter how big our screw ups are. This is why He can love us no matter how much we outwardly despise Him. He can love us because he sees us, the real us, the us that no one could ever completely see no matter how understanding or beautiful they are. And that version of us? The one He sees? That one is always amazing. We are all truly amazing.
When we get close enough to Him, when we lean in and really listen, He whispers our identity over us. He tells us who we are. And in moments of distress, in seasons of pain, in dim, dank, dark places, he repeats those words over us. And when He repeats those words over us, it reminds us that we have value, that we are purposed, destined, and completely loved.
His love gives us meaning, and His definition of us gives us hope for bright futures, even in dark places.
Let that love be your light in whatever place you may find yourself in.