As adults, these same fears exist. We might not worry about imaginary monsters under our beds but we have palpable worry about the real monsters in our lives. Some of them we fear but are confident that we can overcome. Others seem larger than life and impossible to conquer. Most of these are personal and we battle them in silence. Sometimes daily. Sometimes hourly. Sometimes every minute. And we either win or lose each day.
In life, we're often confronted with the monsters of others. Monsters created by hatred, ignorance, misinformation, upbringing or simply fear. Monsters that crawl out of the darkness and become real. That wield weapons, spew hateful rhetoric and feed off of anger.
In the movie, "Hacksaw Ridge," the father, a World War I vet, abuses his wife and children. When one of the sons asks, "Why does he hate us so much?" The mother responds, " He doesn't hate us. He hates himself." Anger and hatred projected toward others is actually just a deflection of anger and hatred of oneself. When you truly love yourself and who you were created to be, it's impossible to hate someone else. You might disagree with their beliefs, actions and words but you don't have a vitriol hatred for their existence. Because to love yourself requires the greatest grace, patience and understanding. I'm not talking about narcissistic, self-absorbed aggrandisement. I'm talking about a humble, forgiving love of self. Once you've achieved that, you lose your ability to judge anyone else because you've let go of the deepest, most personal judgment.
Regardless of where you are, you can "fake it until you make it." No matter how much darkness surrounds you or swells within you, you can choose to be a light.
Think about the darkest cave. The darkest room. The darkest night. The kind of darkness where you literally can't see your hand in front of your face. If, in that darkness, you simply light a match, turn on a flashlight or switch on the smallest lamp, the light overcomes the darkness. Light eradicates dark. It's so much more powerful.
Our country is in a dark place. The political and social climate in the last several months has cloaked us with a darkness we haven't experienced in over a half-century. As you walk through these next few weeks and months, you can choose to let the darkness weigh you down. Dishearten you. Feed your own internal monster. Or you can choose to embrace the power of light by being a light. By choosing kindness over anger. By choosing grace and belief in our inherent goodness over judgment. By choosing random acts of generosity and forgiveness over self-interest.
But to be a light--to give kindness, grace, belief, generosity and forgiveness to others--you must first give it to yourself. Be a light in your own heart. Once you do this, you'll be unable to contain the light within you. If we each take steps to do this, we can chase out the monsters fed by the darkness. We can be a light to ourselves and to this world.