Dealing with Our Dark Side
I have the gift of YELLING.
It’s true. I’m pretty awesome at it. It’s what made me a great track coach. At track meets my runners could hear me bellowing from across the field. Saying things like, “USE YOUR ARM, DIG DEEP, 100%, RUN TIGHT ON THE INSIDE LINE”…etc. I also have a reputation as an “amazing cheerleader” on my boys’ sports teams and at random athletic events.
Just sharing this redeems a piece of my childhood. I was a TERRIBLE cheerleader in the 8th grade. During an assembly I asked the school to repeat after me as I happened to misspell a complicated word: “E A G L E S” (our school mascot). Now that I’m in my mid-40s I’ve got a new reputation…I can YELL (and spell so much better)!
On the flip side, my YELLING is not awesome.
My boys might (ok, probably would) appreciate it if I toned down the YELLING (AKA cheering). The lady who sat down next me only to quickly move away once the basketball game began might also think my YELLING is an obnoxious gift. My neighbors who I’ve been praying for and who, thankfully, have not moved in yet definitely would have noticed my early morning YELLING the other day.
Last week while attempting to get my boys to school on time for finals (one of them overslept) I was yelling, “hustle-up, busta move, shake a leg” and other things like “you’re going to fail math.” I wanted to motivate them so they would not flunk out of high school, never make it to college and live unproductive lives (yes, I was dramatic…my boys are good students and actually responsible). The positive was, they made it to school on time with a few minutes to spare. The negative was, my throat was a tad raw from all the YELLING, and I felt like a complete failure as a mom.
I both appreciate my ability to YELL and despise it.
Why are our greatest strengths also our greatest weaknesses?
If we are being real with each other, we all have little Darth Vader in us. Darth Vader (if you don’t know who he is go see the new Star Wars Movie!!!), once was a really awesome, amazing guy. He was this heroic Jedi Knight who ended up seduced to the dark side.
We all have dark sides. We have hormones, meltdowns, rants, self-absorbed seasons and/or “fall off the wagon” moments. It’s amazing, scripture tells us exactly why this happens. James points out that we are our own problem (ugh!). He says “…each one of us is tempted when our own desires entice us and drag us away.”
Our desires, emotions and feelings seduce us down sin’s slippery slope…to the dark side (James 1:14-15).
I so wish my dark side stopped with YELLING in the bleachers. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen it show up in the presence of teenagers who act like teenagers… and in large crowds, long lines, and a messy kitchen. It’s ugly. I try my best to hide it. But it’s still there.
- I’m joyful AND I’m irritated
- I’m patient AND I’ve got ZERO patience
- I’m confident AND I’m immobilized by fear
- I’m nice AND sometimes I’m mean (Today I was told to park somewhere else. This required 100 feet more of walking and this former IRONMAN…smiled AND thought really mean things.)
Age, life and Jesus have taught me to not get stuck in my dark and ugly moments. The way I am today does not need to define the way I will be tomorrow… or even 5 minutes from now. I can embrace the process of being changed. Jesus said it clear as day, “whoever follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12).
Here is what this really means for me…
I don’t have to wallow in my dark side because I’ve got His light! His light shines in my darkest places. I can choose to overwhelm my dark side with His light.
Jesus has given us everything we need to push back the darkness.
BUT…I’ve got to deal with my dark side.
WHY? So it does not diminish all that is good in me. It’s so important to deal with our darkness because it taints our testimony of the reality of who Jesus is.
So here’s how I’m dealing with my dark side, the ugly part that steals from all my good parts…I’m recognizing my dark sides. If my yelling goes from good to ugly, I recognize it and invite Jesus to overwhelm it with His light.
I recognize my dark side by asking myself…
- Are you doing anything that you would not want your closest friends or neighbors to know (or hear)?”
- Are you pretending to be someone you’re not? Our nature is to hide what is ugly.
- Do you like who you see when you look in the mirror…when the dust settles at the day’s end do you like who you are, how you spoke (or YELLED), acted and responded?
Expose your dark side. We can look perfectly good on the outside and still be decompensating on the inside. We can do a really good job of covering up our dark sides but darkness flourishes when we leave it in the dark. Jesus is in the business of transforming our imperfect lives.
So Let’s invite Him to shine His light in our dark places so we can shine for Him.
Thanks for being willing to be real with me and deal with our dark stuff. Real is always better than fake. Real is freedom to be who you were created to be and fake is…fake.
I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Join me, Laurie and Julie Thursday afternoons at 2:30pm on 93.9 KPDQ and Sunday mornings at 11:30am on True Talk 800. Each week we explore God’s Word and discuss practical ways we can live for the joy of it in our homes, relationships and community.