that spark and that shine and that warm golden light.

A whole lot of years ago (seventeen, to be exact), I found myself in a pretty terrible situation, by all accounts. It was sad, hopeless, soul-depleting… at the time, I was pretty well numb to all of it; now, of course, I have nothing but empathy and compassion for the person who found herself in that place. I don’t regret a minute of it; I also just don’t think anyone should ever have to go through that.

But in the midst of it all, despite making all the wrong choices and feeling a whole lot less than nothing, there was this thing. This spark. Something all the way deep down that told me I could do better. That I wasn’t done. That it didn’t have to be that way and that I counted, I mattered, and there was a better life to be lived. I had this thing, this voice, this tiny little shine inside, and (with the help of family and friends) it was just enough to move me forward. And just as it was like a fuel for forward motion, it was like a beacon; the light would shine bright enough for those around to see me, to hear the call, to be there for me and remind me of my worth until I could hear and see it, too.

It’s that little sliver of light… I want to know what that is, and where it comes from, and what builds it and feeds it and is it always there for everyone or is it something that comes from within (or without) and what can you do to find that light when you think it’s stopped shining or it feels too weak for people to see? How do you ignite it in yourself? Or others?

I’ve been thinking a lot about unhealthy situations… dysfunctional or toxic or even just unhappy relationships / work environments / family / etc. (I should clarify that I’m not talking about dangerously abusive; that’s a whole other thing and not at all applicable here.) For these kinds of situations, and speaking from experience, there are things that happen to get you to that place. Even the most “together” person can find themselves in an emotionally abusive or unhealthy relationship, or a terrible and toxic job situation, because of a weak moment or a blind spot or a need that’s being met or a slow creep or who knows what, but it happens. So, what is it in a person that gives them the strength and the courage to leave? To move on? To trust there’s something bigger and better (or at the very least, different) out there? Why do some people stay stuck and unhappy while others have it in them to just move on? Is it that the light doesn’t shine as bright for them? Is it a sense of responsibility or a lack of self-worth or a higher pain threshold or tolerance?

There are times in my life where I have stayed in something a whole lot longer than maybe I should have, and definitely longer than other people would have, but it always felt like just long enough. In The Four Agreements, he talks about how you only accept as much poison from another person as you believe you deserve. So if that’s the case… does the light start to shine when you’ve finally had enough?

Not completely unrelated… there’s a street here in town that I’ve fallen in love with. The stretch of 23rd Avenue South, between Sharondale Drive and Golf Club Lane, has a funny little way of lighting me up every time I drive it (pun partially intended). There’s something about the houses, about the warm, enveloping lights shining through the windows and from the porches, that makes it all just feel like home.

“Home” has been a long-running theme of mine, and I’ve been paying a lot of attention to all the people, places, things, and ideas that elicit the home response in my heart. So maybe that thing, that light, that spark inside a person is really just another version of home – and maybe it’s the most important version of all.

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