What is happening?
This has been a lingering thought as I’ve scrolled through my newsfeed over the past few months.
A white nationalist rally in Virginia. A vehicle driving into a crowd of people, killing one and injuring others. North Korea and the United States of America blustering to each other about who has the biggest bombs and the farthest reach.
And now, so many innocent people gunned down at what should have been a fun-filled concert. What is happening all across this country, across this world?
There has been conflict since the dawn of humanity. We can look back at history and see violence, hatred and bigotry played out time and time again.
We’ve all heard the saying that we can’t change the past, we can only learn from it. Is this true? If so, I’m curious as to what we’ve learned.
Have we learned anything from the period of time in our country marked by slavery?
Have we learned anything from the Holocaust where some 6 million Jews were murdered?
Have we learned anything from the genocide in Rwanda?
Have we learned anything from the refugees currently living in cardboard boxes and makeshift tents because their homes have been obliterated?
Have we learned anything from all of the violence in our cities and towns, all of the death, all of the sorrow?
Are we better now? Are we wiser? Are we kinder?
I recently listened to a speech by one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century who said, “Only when it’s dark enough can we see the stars.”
As the darkness continues to descend around us, I have begun to wonder when the stars will emerge.
But as I’ve asked myself this question, a more pointed insight splinters my thoughts. Perhaps instead of waiting for the stars to emerge, I should recognize my responsibility to become one of them.
Me? Yes. You? Yes. We must decide to shine light and share love because that’s what God asks of us.
I think most of us want to be light bearers, but we often feel unsure of how to make this happen.
Some people would have us believe that if we cannot change the world in totality, we might as well not attempt to do so. This lie leads to feelings of defeat and apathy.
Failure is not found by our inability to reach millions; failure is realized when we ignore the one. Failure is not found when we fail to change the world; failure is demonstrated when we fail to change our world.
Each of us has the capacity to be a world changer to someone every single day.
When we smile and motion for that person to go in front of us at the checkout line, we shine a little light into the darkness.
When we provide some groceries for that family whose pantry is bare, we shine a light into the darkness.
When we stand up for the one who is being made fun of, talked down to or left out, we shine a light into the darkness.
When we hold hands with the sick, are a friend to the lonely or visit the prisoner, we shine a light into the darkness.
When we realize that every single person we meet regardless of race, creed or socioeconomic status is a child of Almighty God, we shine a light into the darkness.
When we change the life of one, we indeed change the world. Only when the people of light are apathetic, do we fail.
Amid a dark world, Martin Luther King Jr. knew something about this when he said, “Only when it is dark enough can we see the stars.”
And amid a dark world, another leader some 2,000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth, knew something about this as well when he said, “Let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
For centuries, people have used stars to navigate their path, to illumine their darkness and help them find their way. Let us be like the stars, shining light and helping others along their journey.
May we learn something from our past and may we choose to let our light shine brightly in response.
Ginger Hughes is the wife of a pastor, a mother of two and an accountant. A version of this article first appeared on her Nurturing Faith blog and is used with permission. Her writings may also be found on her blog, No Mama’s Perfect. You can connect with her on Facebook.