where the light shines through {christmas thoughts}

your scars
shine like dark scars
yeah, your wounds are
where the light shines through

Last night, I went to a Christmas lights display with some friends, and was struck with the truly symbolic nature of Christmas lights. It makes me a little sad that Christmastime is the only time of year we decorate the dark winter months with glorious light. So fitting, as Jesus is the brightest light our eyes will ever see.

My mind has been wrestling with what it means for us, as broken humans, to be the “salt and light” to this earth. Jesus was the purest form of the Father’s light, complete in his humanity, yet perfect in his godliness. On my own, my light is clouded by depression, sin, anxiety, pain…everything we have been experiencing since the fall. In these winter months here in Ohio, it gets dark quickly, and takes a while for the sun to rise. A couple of days ago, we experienced the shortest “day” of the year, only 9-10 hours of daylight. This is the season where my heart gets especially heavy, just because of the physical darkness.

I think of the grace and beauty Jesus brought into the world, and all I can see is the glory of the light. The strength in his glorious nature was how he could overcome the darkest days. His mind, heart, words, and actions were directed by a Spirit and a Father who were out for our rescue. He is the song we can sing, in the dark. In the fear. In the worry. This is Christmas: in every place the curse touched, every heart that broke, every mind hardened by sin, Jesus set out to reveal His light and grace and blessing. This is why we can have joy. This is why the joy is already here!

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…the true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:4-5, 9

Why does my soul struggle so to see this? In a world with pain in everyone’s eyes and tears falling more now than ever before, the joy can be easy to miss. The enemy of joy tries to rob us of our contentment with materialism at Christmastime, and anytime. He tries to keep our eyes off of the beauty everywhere by keeping our heads down, looking at our screens. I say these things because I am so guilty of falling for them.

Sometimes, it’s hard to see light past my own brokenness. I forget that the broken places are exactly where I need to be open with people, because that is where God’s goodness can be shown most clearly and purely. Without my pride in the way, without any distortion of what He wants to do. The key here is opening my heart wide, brokenness and all. Ann Voskamp worded it so beautifully when she said, “There’s brokenness that makes a canvas for God’s light…brokenness happens in a soul so the power of God can happen in a soul.” Your brokenness, when exposed, can show off who Jesus is so beautifully.

The thing is, he knows us in all our flaws. He sees the crazy stress, the waywardness of my desires. This is the real beauty in Christmas — we are seen, known, and yet not forgotten or ever rejected. He knows we go astray like sheep, yet chases after us all the more because He loves us. And the even greater miracle? He just wants me. No bells & whistles. No cleaning-up necessary. He wants me. In my brokenness. When He took the cross, it was like He said, “enough of this trying to reach heaven. Let Me show you what real freedom looks like.”

Real freedom? It looks like running into the arms of a Father so good and so wild and so strong.

It looks like surrender, letting go of the pretending.

It looks like embracing who you can be in Jesus, not who you were in sin.

It looks like a perspective that is turned all upside-down from what the world’s eyes see.

It looks like honesty. Clarity. Beauty.

It looks like light. Marvelous light.

This is Christmas. I pray yours is full of light and grace, friends.

Aliyah Burton