On a flight this week from Atlanta, Georgia to Norfolk, Virginia, I enjoyed the window seat. The plane arrived late so we were delayed and due to a gate change, even after we boarded, we sat at the terminal for about 30 minutes while the baggage was loaded. The delays allowed for our flight to depart at dusk and as we ascended, I was amazed at the thousands of lights visible from the plane. Even after we reached our cruising altitude of 30,000 feet, the lights could be seen when there was a break in the cloud cover.
As I sat looking out the window, I began to think about each light and the people who depended on the them to illuminate the night. I wondered how many of them were happy and how many were sad. I thought about those who’s lives were in turmoil in that moment as I passed by, high overhead, oblivious to their circumstance.
As the Delta flight made it’s way along the eastern seaboard, we soared past families being torn apart by divorce and parents grieving the death of a child. I thought of people battling addictions and depression, unemployment and financial ruin, even preteens and teenagers struggling with self-esteem, some of them being bullied, some doing the bullying.
As disheartening as that may seem, I couldn’t help but feel hope as I looked at all the lights. Some were dim, others were bright, but each one was breaking the monotonous darkness. It only takes a small amount of light to pierce the gloom, no matter how dark the night may seem.
Each one of us has it within to bring that hope to someone who is hurting. In the darkness of their storm, we can be that light to pierce the darkness. Unfortunately, we get so caught up with our own lives and our circumstances that we tend to soar right over those who need us when they desperately need what we have to give. We get tunnel vision. We walk right past them as though we were wearing blinders because we don’t have time or we don’t know where to begin.
Many of us want to help, but life is moving so fast, it’s like being on a flight at night. We can see the darkness (or the need) but we feel powerless to do anything to light it or even afraid we will do the wrong thing. We see others lighting the night but we feel inadequate and incapable, or unworthy.
Honestly, those we see as shining so brightly were once dim. They probably even had a time where they had a hard time thinking they had anything of value to offer. Chances are those you admire have struggled with or are struggling with the same things you struggle with. They are looking for an opportunity to share the hope they have with you so that their light can help pierce your darkness. In turn, you take that hope and share it with someone else.
You see, you don’t have to be perfect to make a difference in this world, you just have to be willing to try. It’s that effort that starts to bring a light of hope into the darkness of those we pass each day. That effort generates a spark that can illuminate the darkest of situations. We have to be intentional and slow down long enough to recognize the needs of those around us. Then, we need to offer what we can. For some, it will be a kind word and a smile of encouragement. Some might be able to be a blessing financially or with a needed item like food or a coat. Whatever you do unconditionally for those who are hurting or in need will return a greater investment than you might think.
Yes, it will cost you something. It might be your comfort or your desires, but whatever the cost, the reward is far greater. It comes down to a choice. You can soar past the hurting and pretend they don’t exist or that their lives don’t have any impact on your own…or you can choose to see the value in that person, slow down and take a moment to shine a little light in their darkness. Each time you step out of your comfort zone and take a chance, putting the needs of others before your own, your light will grow a little brighter and bolder.