It must be Mondays. Or maybe it’s because of the extra advertising for the holiday season. Whatever the cause, I’ve been struck today by the number of social media posts I’ve seen that address self-image.
Beloved friends bemoaning their appearance. Reminders that grit and balance and kindness are more important than outer beauty. Ads with sparkly models on the side. Scrolling through the feeds, I know I’m not alone in seeing the trends.
We are beginning the season of darkness outside, contemplation inside, and attempts at shining light into the world. Darkness has a way of making us feel alone. Contemplation can reveal parts of ourselves we’d rather not face. The odd thing about shining light into the universe is that it is terribly difficult to see the impact we make adding our candles to the starlight. It can overwhelm even the strongest among us.
There can also be comfort in the cozy winter darkness. We can make friends with the person we find in the mirror. It is our choice to continue holding our candle high.
There is a real struggle, I don’t want to minimize what it takes to follow through with rewriting our narratives. Some face not only the common struggle, but intense depressive episodes and anxiety related to the dark. These friends rely on those of us who are able to light our lights to lend a shoulder or ear. We must first shore up our reserves.
Here are some practical steps toward lighting your own darkness:
- Engage your spiritual practice. If you attend worship, go fully prepared to enter in to the service and participate with your whole heart.
- Connect to your body. This is a time where temptation to excess abounds. Make a plan and stick to it regarding how you will feed and care for your body. Eat real food. Move and stretch. Get enough sleep.
- Program in time for reflection. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 30, simply quieting your mind and processing your day go a long way toward peace of mind.
- Make a small change. Most of us know at least one thing that we can do to improve our daily lives. Maybe it’s cleaning that shelf or closet or room that’s been nagging you at the back of your mind. Maybe it’s making that phone call or returning that email that brings on heart palpitations. Maybe it’s deleting that phone number from your contacts that always catches you unaware as you are looking up a friend.
- Give yourself a break. Chances are you are doing better than you think. Find time to celebrate whatever progress you’ve made this year. What did you accomplish? Even small things like sticking it out in tough situations count in our list of victories.
More than anything, I hope you can know more fully and deeply today that you are beloved. Your existence matters. Care for the gifts you’ve been given and use them to bless others. The light you shine banishes the darkness.
A blast of hope and love, like the crisp winter air.
A Prayer for the Season:
God who fill the whole universe,
You bring light and love with your presence in our lives. May we know that you are near. Give us the ability to see you at work in the world around us. Grant us the will to join you in restoring peace.