Looking at Mark Chapter 6: Verses 8-11, we see how Jesus sent out his disciples on a journey with instructions to travel lightly. Looking at our own journeys, at times we may be weighed down with unresolved or hurtful situations, we really don't know the way through, and can feel temporarily trapped by the unwanted circumstances. As we progress, we may understand more about our journeys, or eventually make sense of what has happened, even though we may not agree with all that has taken place, because it has been so painful. But a divine light is there on our journeys to help us travel from some sort of grief, to a reclaiming of ourselves and finding a new connection with Our Creator.
So, imagine going on a journey, where you really don't know where you're going, and, actually, you're not sure where you will end up! As you set out along the road you start to wonder what you will encounter. At first you were so keen for adventure, but after setting out you miss having a plan and an itinerary. It is only then that you fully realise you are entering the unknown. It is all quite mystifying, and not long into your journey you discover you are lost! You had hoped that you could make sense of it all, and you try to hold onto that, but now, any sense of certainty you might have had has left you. It is night time, and there is no-one about to help or to ask directions from, nor are there any lights, or lit homes or buildings, and now the temperature has started to plummet. Feeling cold and frightened, you may feel as though you have also lost yourself. What does this all mean? Why is there no-one about, and if there were, who would it be safe to ask for help from? Why are there no directions? It's possible you hadn't expected to feel lost so soon, and with the loss of light around you, fears start to play on your mind, and for a while you feel trapped, isolated, perplexed and panicked. Sometimes this is how we can describe our life events. We may have some understanding about our lives and vocations, and what we need to do, but the losses and hardships are harder than we thought.
When encountering any deep losses or disappointments, we often live automatically - carrying out all the routine jobs we need to do in order to survive, and to feed us with a sense of normality. But, while we carry on, we feel as though heavy stones are being carried. We may pray, but we're not really sure of the answers, because this time of uncertainty or grieving means everything has become slightly obscured. Once everything seemed quite clear, but now the clarity has gone.
It might be helpful to imagine encountering a door in a wall on your journey, with shafts of light opening into your circumstances. As the door opens into what may feel like a permanent night, try and picture more light entering. While the light enters, surrender what hurts and afflicts into this brightness, and take time to unpack any heavy luggage you are carrying and 'owning'. It is a process that may take time, and not be instant, but it is worth it. Sometimes the facing of darkness is a time of waiting, preparation and understanding. You may feel disempowered and puzzled but keep going, and keep persevering. The hurts or losses you have faced, may cause you to feel neglected and lose yourself. Possibly you also felt misunderstood by others, and have lost your self-worth in the process. Self-worth is all about the value you place on yourself, so if you have been badly hurt, don't take your identity from other people's opinions. Whilst taking time to look at the light shining through the opened door, you may need to start building a safe new place within you. Any losses or disappointments can make us feel very unsafe, as though we believe we are at the mercy of anything and everything.
So our journey leads us to come home to ourselves, leaving behind whatever has afflicted us. In building this new safety we may also find a new connection with God! Often when going through hard times, it is puzzling. Where have all the prayers gone? Were they not heard? We may also feel as though our Creator has gone and vanished, such is the depth of some of our experiences!
In learning to come back home to yourself you could imagine your soul as a painted glass window with the rays of the sun streaming through the many picture segments of yourself. What would you paint on each section of this window? Let's start with your gifts and abilities, because everyone shines at something. Pictured next could be some of the happier times of your life, and maybe you have even drawn some of the people closest to you on your window. After that you might have drawn what you know about yourself, but next to this, there is a blank space waiting for a new identity to be forged out of the times of darkness. Lastly, there's a section on the window that is obscured, and this represents some sort of fear or terror that you are struggling with. How big a section have you given that fear?
Sometimes those things that obstruct our way are from that obscured area, the fears and terrors. However, sometimes what we fear forges our new identity, because in facing and overcoming it, we have learnt bravery. This needs to be put on the window in the blank space that has been waiting for us to recognise this new aspect of our identity formed from the courage we have displayed.
At first you may have felt as though you were trapped in a hopeless journey with your circumstances. Then you imagined the door in the wall opening, with divine brightness streaming through, and as it does, it can help to imagine receiving this divine light. Shafts of light have entered to show what you are struggling with, and even though you may still feel stuck and need some extra help, it is a journey that can't be hurried. Light works in many different ways, while it shines on one aspect of your life, it also shines on the next one for you to eventually move onto when you are ready. Now you may notice how your journey lightens as you start to come home to yourself and find new beginnings with God.
Author, Finding a Way Ahead!