It’s guest post day!
Today’s blog is brought to you by Claire Morrison. Claire is a former youth of mine from Austin who is currently studying civil engineering. She is one of those people who you meet and you just know that she’s going to change the world. Claire is all around one of my favorite people on the planet and I am so blessed to know her!
Also she totally wrote the last bit all on her own. I think she meant it to be just for me to see, but I’m leaving it in there because, well, it’s hilariously accurate.
Peace be with you!
I’m not going to lie. Soon after I agreed to be a guest blogger on the topic of “Joy In Darkness” I realized one thing–I am probably the least qualified person in Katie’s vast array of wise and wonderful friends to write on this particular subject. However, I then remembered one phrase a certain loud, red-headed youth minister once told me. God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called. Here’s to hoping I can impart even a small amount of wisdom (or entertainment) to you, nameless reader, in this Lenten season.
Normally I, and probably most of us, tend to associate darkness with times of severe hardship in the form of sickness, death of loved ones, major disappointment, heartbreak, or depression, etc. And in my 19 years of life, God has blessed me in the sense that I’ve only ever had to witness hardships like those. So, feeling unprepared to write a post about darkness, I did what most teenagers with writer’s block do–go to Thesaurus.com.
Synonyms for darkness include -*drumroll*- blindness, isolation, and mystery.
Now those three things I’m familiar with at this stage in my life. Hooray for relevance!
In September, I moved from Austin, Texas to go to college in Plymouth, England. Life abroad has been beautiful in many ways, but it’s also lead me to a period of extreme uncertainty. As it stands now, I’m not sure whether or not I want to stay in Plymouth, but I’m not sure where I want to be instead. I could go into much more detail, but the point is this…
Darkness isn’t something we can put in a box. As Katie has said many times this week, it manifests itself in different, surprising, and even unnoticed ways.
Right now, this period of questioning and uncertainty is my darkness. And to be honest, I don’t think I would have been able to label it as such if I didn’t have to write this post. I can’t see where life will bring me in the next year, or even in the next few months, and it’s incredibly scary. Frustration comes easy while peace is hard to find. I’m sure we’ve all been there in one form or another, so I’m hoping this next bit is relatable.
When life confuses me, I tend to turn to Ecclesiastes, a seemingly dark and complex book that is really all about simplifying life. Ecclesiastes explores three concepts. First, the march of time (Ecc 1:4). In the timeline of the world, our lifetimes don’t even equate to a blink. Second, we’re all going to die (Ecc 9:2). Rich or poor, good or bad, we all end up in the dirt at the end of the day. Third, life has an incredibly random nature (Ecc 9:11). Bad things happen to good people all the time, and there never seems to be an explanation.
These three qualities all go to say what Ecclesiastes reiterates many times–that everything under the sun (wisdom, riches, advancement, pleasure, etc) is meaningless (Ecc 1:2). I know, it can be hard not to spiral into existential crisis after hearing that, Lord knows I have, but just wait!
There’s something lost in translation. “Meaninglessness,” as used in Ecclesiastes, is originally translated from the Hebrew word “Hevel” (הָ֫בֶל)–which in itself means vapor or breath.
So, through another lens, Ecclesiastes says that everything in life is Hevel, or that life is like vapor. Vapor can be beautiful and mysterious–and when you think you can grasp it, it’s gone. With this understanding, the takeaway is different.
Life isn’t meaningless, but often life’s meaning is unclear. Lacking clarity can make us feel darkness, but that’s okay. Personally, in times of darkness, times when I’m not in control of so much, it’s easier for me to appreciate the smaller things–whether that’s a conversation with a friend or an early morning walk. That’s how I find Joy in Darkness. It might be a completely different case for you, and that’s okay. I’ll wrap things up with one of my favorite verses from Ecclesiastes.
“Light is sweet,
and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
However many years anyone may live,
let them enjoy them all.
But let them remember the days of darkness,
for there will be many.
Everything to come is meaningless.”
-Ecclesiastes 11:7-8 (NIV)
***This post was brought to you by the National Association of Uncertain Nineteen-Year-Olds.
All donations go to the Katie Coleman Fund, an organization dedicated to providing financial sustenance to hardworking, underpaid, and over-qualified teaching assistants. ***