Ask any group of children what they are afraid of and darkness will always hit the top two if not the number one answer every time. This fear of the dark starts around age two when they start to realize that bad things can happen in general and as their imaginations grow they continue to fear what might happen in the dark, monsters – creepy things lurking in the windows, in closets and under the bed. These fears can last up through the age of nine. Sometime after this time children outgrow their fear of the dark – they can determine what is real and what is imagined and are no longer overcome with an irrational fear of darkness.
As we age we get comfortable moving around in the dark. We learn how to navigate in it and function for the most part without much fear at all in our dark homes or neighborhood streets. Only in new surroundings and uncertain safety levels do we fear the dark again. We might say we gain a healthy respect for the dark without it consuming us.
Light and darkness are long used metaphors to describe good and evil with light being the power to banish evil. For example mythical figures of Trolls as told by Tolkien are turned to stone if the sunlight hits them when the day dawns. Or in the ever popular Star Wars movies evil is called the dark side of the force. The Bible uses them too – and in particular John makes use of darkness and light to remind the readers of his letter that hate creates darkness and the darkness leads to blindness.
John makes a very strong point that when we hate our neighbors then we fool ourselves if we think we are living in the light of God. The problem is – the longer we hate, the more comfortable we become living in the dark, in fact we can become so comfortable we lose our fear of the darkness in our souls. Let us not forget the power of the dark and not get too comfortable with it. My prayer is that we not get comfortable in the dark but ask Jesus to help us love and forgive and let hate towards others go.
This week reread 1 John 2. Do some soul searching and ask God if there is someone you need to forgive. Talk with your children about who they might hold bad feelings about, talk about asking Jesus to give them the power to forgive and love that person. Talk about light and darkness metaphors and see what they come up with. Share with them how hate leads to darkness and work on forgiving with Jesus’ help.
Here’s to living in the light and not being comfortable in the dark!