Put Down the Candlestick Holder
Now that I’ve finally realized I’ve been acting like a four-year-old, I’ve decided it is time to stop. I share this with you, in case you want to join me in stopping, too.
To explain what I mean, let me fly you back in time to four-year-old me.
My wardrobe is full of OshKosh B’gosh and Keds. I’m rocking pigtails with pink barrettes. My world revolves around grilled cheese sandwiches and coloring books. My mom is the master bedtime story reader, and my brother is the coolest older brother EVER.
Like the time he convinces me that hot sauce is actually Kool-Aid. Or, all the times he pops my legs with the wet dish towel. Or, that night he makes me so mad I decide to clobber him with a candlestick holder.
Yep, with a candlestick holder…
It all happened on a night I will not soon forget. It’s just me and my big bro. He’s 17 years old and he’s my babysitter for the night. He does what any 17-year-old would do for his four-year-old sister – pushes a horror movie into the VCR and presses play, fully aware that this movie will scare the living daylights out of me.
After the movie, my brother decides to leave me alone in the living room, turn off every single light in the house and hide. I am alone in the dark, with a racing heart and tears threatening to burst down my cheeks.
Why would he do this? What do I do?
I plead with him to come out and to turn the lights back on. But, he responds with silence.
I am horrified.
Something within my four-year-old brain decides that I have had enough.
My sadness and disappointment evolve into a sense of indignation, intermingled with lingering fear. So, I decide to make a plan.
Mom’s two-foot long solid brass candlestick holder is not far away. I feel my way over to it, pick it up, position it like a baseball bat ready to swing, and start inching my way down the darkened hallway.
I will find my brother. And when I find him, he will pay for what he has done.
Obviously, that was not my best of moments. But, recently my eyes were opened to the fact that I have had many moments like this.
And so have my co-workers. And church members. And relatives. And friends.
I think it highly likely that you have, too.
What do I mean?
Well, at various points in life it is almost as if God is out for the night, and he’s left us in the care of older siblings. These siblings at times make decisions (whether out of ignorance, apathy or blatant disregard), which are not appropriate uses of the power, insight or resources to which they have been given access.
Their choices have impacts that are demeaning, isolating or disempowering.
It can almost feel as if we’re four-years old again and they’ve turned out the lights and are hiding. And, for an instant we may be paralyzed with fear, hurt and a sense of no control. It’s each of us on our own. Yet again.
We are left to wade our way through discomfort and uncertainty.
So, we put together a plan of action.
We tell ourselves we do not deserve this. We pick up our pride and start inching our way forward, prepared to swing at the first sign of possible threat. We will protect ourselves, at any cost.
But, I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus.
The way in which he lived and died. Of all that he endured which was in no way just. The heartbreak. The misunderstandings. The insecurities projected onto him. The grief and sweat like blood.
And, yet he responded with grace.
- This grace that saves.
- That restores to life.
- That repairs brokenness.
- That changes minds and hearts.
- That overcomes fear.
- That paves a path for love.
- And, establishes room for true justice.
Jesus did not place his trust or his security in man, for he knew the sinfulness that is in our hearts (John 2:24).
But, he put his faith in the Father, who freed him up to speak the truth and to wholeheartedly love humanity without judgment or fear. This should be our goal.
I often think of how my story would have been different had I chosen to inch my way over to the lamp instead of the candlestick holder.
I often think of how our stories could be different if in times of mistreatment or conflict we choose to reach out for God’s lamp; if we choose to intentionally seek out God’s guidance instead of leaning to our own biased and limited ways of coping with the fallen state of our world.
The “light has come into the world…” (John 3:19)
And, what a powerful light He is.
So, put down the candlestick holder and reach for the lamp.
Tiona is a native Floridian who is learning to love the rainy days and cozy coffee shops of her new Oregon home. Tiona is passionate about exploring the intersections of faith, race and identity. She finds purpose in learning more about God from those of other cultures and intentionally seeks ways to more fully live out respect and community with those who have been marginalized. Tiona holds a master’s degree in social work and currently serves as the associate director of master’s programs at Portland Seminary.