Sometimes the darkest darkness is the one that you aren’t even aware of. I was so blinded to dark and to light that I didn’t even know the difference. I would even say in some ways I thought the dark was the light; that is how accustomed I was to it. I loved my darkness. I loved feeling hidden from the gaze of those around me. I loved that people only saw what I wanted them to see. My darkness was masquerading as light.
I grew up in a Christian home. My parents loved Jesus, and they did the best they knew how. We were all taught that “being good” was the point of Christianity. Accepting Jesus was just another step to becoming that good person. I learned really early on that the best way to have people accept and love me was to be that good girl. I gave it all I had. I pretty much always did the right thing, and on the rare occasion that I didn’t, I would lie about it so that no one would know I wasn’t that good girl. I was enslaved to this image. I joined my family and church in worshiping my own goodness. I was the girl with the Bible verse on her letterman’s jacket. I was the girl that would always give a testimony. I was the girl that led the jr. high youth group. I was that girl. I propagated the “be good” mentality. I went so far as to go to Bible College to earn a degree in theology. All the while, I knew I didn’t love God. I knew that my heart was far. I settled into my darkness and pretended it was light.
When I was nineteen, God came bursting into my cave and amazed me with true Light. He showed me that all of the goodness I was trying to procure, all of the accolades I had received meant nothing before His command: “Be perfect.” My goodness wasn’t good enough, and I needed the goodness of Another. All of the love and acceptance that I worked so hard to get from family and friends could be mine in Christ by just believing that I couldn’t do it. He gave me the faith to believe what I had fought against my entire life: I needed more than myself.
Since that day, I have had to fight that same battle over and over again. I find myself so easily falling back into the trap of thinking I can earn an “atta girl” from God by my own works. I do this now by thinking if I can just have the right theology, if I can just love the gospel enough, then finally then I can earn my own righteousness.
I have struggled to contribute to the No Darkness to Dark series. I have read others stories and thought, “Wow. That was dark.” My story is nothing like that. I have wrestled with this thought for a month or so. Last night slapped me in the face. I was believing the lie again. I was believing that my enslavement to my own goodness actually wasn’t all that bad.
Reverend Thomas Scott said it best, “I cannot pray, but I sin; I cannot hear, or preach a sermon, but I sin; I cannot give an alms, or receive the sacrament, but I sin; no, I cannot so much as confess my sins, but my confessions are still aggravations of them. My repentance needs to be repented of, my tears need washing, and the very washing of my tears needs still to be washed over again with the blood of my Redeemer.”
And thank God that we do have that Redeemer who loves even those who avoid Him by trying to be him. Those who, like me, just need to hear every day that they can rest in His goodness and forgiveness.