The Bright Yellow Light
This year brought the season finale of one of my favorite cartoon shows. I love how the creator developed the characters’ personalities, deepening what made them special, how that made an impact in their decision making and, in the end, in the story itself. I also loved this show for the beautiful songs, through which the characters were able to express their thoughts and show the audience what was really going on. The show seemed to use art as a therapy.
In the final episode, the song went like this: “I don’t need you to respect me; I respect me. I don’t need you to love me; I love me. But I want you to know you could know me, if you change your mind.” This was a conclusion of thought that came to a crescendo in song. The main character needed physical freedom from a confinement, but also emotional freedom to be able to be himself without suffering any kind of oppression. The character and his mother suffered under a powerful being who wanted everything and everyone to be perfect, just as she was perfect.
While I was watching the hour-long episode finale something hit a button in my own heart. Because it sounded so familiar. My parents were church leaders, so the pressure on my brother and me to be role models was huge. The expectations were also intense. As a young teenager, I was still discovering who I was and what I was good at as I was being told who I should be and what I should do. I began to question everything. At fifteen, I decided that I felt no joy, no happiness. They said that God himself wanted me to obey, to be holy and good, to not fight with my brother or be rude, and not to do so many other things that I saw other people at church doing regularly. I saw their hypocrisy and I didn’t want to be like them, so I left church and God for good.
Now I realize that I needed my own space to reflect in a healthy way what it really meant to call myself a Christian. If I had to live according to Christian standards, I needed to understand what that meant for me, not because people told me so, but because I really believed it. I needed to know what God really wanted from me, not what people said God wanted.
Three years later, living on what I thought were my own terms, I found myself in a deep depression, planning my own death, thinking about how my parents would react if they discovered me. Would they care? Would they cry? Would anybody miss me if I was gone? I thought they wouldn’t. Nobody really knew me; I didn’t really even know myself. I saw my miserable life and broken heart, and as a very meager last resource I gave it to Jesus to see if he could do something with this wretched existence.
To my surprise, he did. But how he did was also a surprise. I thought I needed people, I thought I desperately needed someone to love me and care for me, but instead Christ brought me through solitude, wasted lands and deserts, where there was nothing and no one else but me and him.
I met him for the first time and he showed me who I really was and allowed me to greet myself and to love that person. He showed me how the real me was buried and tainted from sexual abuse suffered as a 5-year-old child, something that I had completely locked away and forgotten in a tiny part of my mind. It has been a long journey since then, and I thought I finally had overcome it, but last Christmas I learned that this cycle of violence and abuse has been a part of different generations in my family. This reopened some of the pain and hit me even harder.
While I was reflecting on what the cartoon show was trying to say this year, I kept listening to the different musicians and their other songs. I always like to listen to artist interviews to learn a bit more about how they think and who they are. All of them seemed to speak toward the same thing: the deep loneliness they were in and how nothing that they did, no one they befriended or dated was able to perpetually take away that feeling. “Save me from myself” they seem to sing, and wow, how I know this feeling. One has the sense that everything (even the self itself) is broken and nothing you can ever do might fix that. In order to keep going, you accept that this brokenness is part of who you are as a person and think that if you just could be free to be who you really are, then everything might be a little better. But then when you seem to achieve that, you have to painfully admit that in reality, there’s no chance of running away from that feeling of being somehow broken. And to admit that life has lost all sense of purpose is one of the loneliest admissions to make.
But I was wrong the whole time. During those years living in my own terms (which actually were the terms people said would make me feel better), I was longing for something warm in my heart, a bright and yellow light that would enter and unfreeze the most frozen parts of my broken soul. It wasn’t until I found myself with no friends and no reason to keep living, sitting on the last bench in the very church I rejected for being full of hypocrites, crying out to God as a last resort as I watched my parents rehearse for a Christmas play, when I felt it.
It was the warmth of God, the REAL God, Jesus, the light and life of all humanity. He had been there all along. I just needed to understand that I was as broken and as much in need of him as all of those I called hypocrites.
Today I’ve learned that I don’t have to be perfect. If I need to stop, I can do it. I am a child in his hands and I know I am allowed to be me, not the person I thought I had to be but who I am really, without all those layers of darkness, abuse, and loneliness. I know that there are some layers that still need gently to be peeled away. I know the brokenness of this world will probably hit me again sometime. But I never have to face it alone because he is indeed here, among us, whether I feel him or not. The warm yellow light indeed shines in the darkness and the darkness will not overcome it. He is here and he knows me.
Noemi Navarro is the Administrative Manager of RZIM Academy in Spanish at Fundación RZ in Madrid, Spain.
"A Slice of Infinity" is aimed at reaching into the culture with words of challenge, truth, and hope. By stirring the imagination and engaging the mind, we want to share the beauty and truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
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