Before you jump to conclusions, I don't typically watch Care Bears on YouTube. I was actually reading a new blog post from The Resurgence about "following your heart" and the blogger embedded the Care Bear clip in the post. Check the post out here when you get a chance. It's a great read about the very common and - in my opinion - overused phrase, "follow your heart".
Here's the clip:
This is Dark Heart's line that got me, just as he was morphing into a huge scary cloud:
"Nooooooooooo! Get away from me!! Keep your kindness and affection to yourself!!"
Ummmmm, so....yeah. That's in me. For a long time. Slightly hidden - for the most part - underneath congenial friendships and pursuits of deeper relationships.
As the words reverberate in my ears, and the sound of the voice in the video morphs into my own in my mind, I see more clearly all of a sudden. These words appear in my heart and head when relationships get deeper; you know, when the inevitable "history of my life" (i.e. testimony) comes up over coffee or dinner. Or, when you become more intentional with your time with friends and you know you have to open up about the junk [you were/currently are] sitting in.
There's this catching feeling, this anxiety, this instinctual response to push people away that rises in me when intimacy begins to root in any kind of relationship. It's especially strong when those people are freely gracious, kind, generous and loving. I don't think I've been completely oblivious to this in me - I actually have fought quite hard against it in commitment to my home group through the years - but I am still surprised that it's still there in such severity. And more so, I'm surprised how quick I was to recognize that silly little cartoon villain as myself.
Wow. Who'd a thunk it? Empathizing with Dark Heart from Care Bears.
What I like about the little clip, though, is that Dark Heart didn't get to stay...well, dark. He was forced to confront the light. Say what you will about the Care Bears (I'll admit it's a bit cheesy, even for young kids), the allegory is great in this clip. (It's not perfect though - Jesus is definitely not a Care Bear.)
In the same way, I do not get to remain as my own version of Dark Heart. There is always something - really Someone - who forces Light into the dark.
"For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness." Psalm 18:28
"If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,' even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you." Psalm 139:11,12
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 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." John 1:1-5
"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" John 8:12
"I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness." John 12:46
"Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires." Romans 13:11-14
I could insert many, many, many more references to day/light versus night/darkness from the Scriptures but I'm sure you get the point; or maybe like me, you're a bit thick-skulled and have to hear these truths over and over again. Either way, the truth is clear - Christ is the light in my Dark Heart. Though I may perceive that the darkness will overcome me, that the Dark Heart in Angela will dominate, the truth is that I no longer walk in darkness but rather in His light.
When the anxiety, the catching feeling, the instinctual response to push away attempts to thwart intimacy in my relationships with others - or even my relationship with Him - I have faith that the dark heart no longer reigns. There is nothing to fear in relationships when He is the Light of my life. There is no reason to run back into the shadows with shame and guilt over the past. I do not have to waste one moment on worrying about whether or not I am good enough or pretty enough or smart enough or funny enough. This desire to push/run away out of fear of rejection or fear of being hurt after opening up - it disappears in the light. My focus is not on myself but is instead on the blinding and glorious Light of the World.
Instead of bellowing "Get away from me! Keep your kindness and affection to yourself!!", I can accept the love and affection of my friends and family with open arms. In the process, it makes me that much more able to give my love and affection to them - and others - in return.