By LIBBO CROSSWHITE
Open up and let the light in
2020 started off with a literal bang as I watched fireworks fly off the top of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. I celebrated the new year with 65,000 of my favorite 18- to 25-year-olds at Passion 2020. I’m not sure I could have started this decade with more excitement, anticipation and outright joy than being surrounded by believers worshipping and declaring the goodness of the Lord.
Ironically, it feels like it’s been a solid decade since January 1. The newness and the promise of a new start seem to have faded.
When I think back to my time at the Passion Conference, I’m brought to the same place each time. As Kari Jobe led us in worship on the morning of January 1, the Mercedes Dome began to open up. There had been rumors that this would happen at some point — but there were also rumors that Kanye West or Justin Bieber would show up.
The moment seemed unplanned and perfect at the same time. As she sang, “I’m longing for a fresh encounter … Your presence is my favorite place,” the wind began to blow. Light beamed in.
It was as if the spiritual battle that we know is already won was being personified. These words rang true for me: “Your presence is my favorite place.”
As a counselor, as a mom, but mainly as a human being, I see the darkness that so easily entangles and consumes us. Not just because I have seen it in others, but because I have seen it in me. As I have thought back to that moment at Passion and looked at the picture, God keeps revealing new parts to me: The only way the light could have come into the dome was if it opened up.
2020 will mark almost four years that I have been writing this column. It’s so much fun to write about my bumfuzzled motherhood but, as crazy as this sounds, I have a difficult time opening up to those closest to me about how I struggle not to allow my own darkness and thoughts to consume me.
I’ve thought a lot about those 65,000 people under the dome. They almost look like specks in the picture. It’s hard to distinguish individuals. I was at a women’s conference back in the fall, and Jenni Allen spoke on the power of our thoughts. She told us (and Google confirms) that the average person thinks about 60,000 thoughts per day, and almost 85 percent of those are negative.
This is where I raise my hand. This is where I let the dome open up, and I look at that picture less as an Instagram post (yes, it was one of mine) and more as my life. Those specks are my thoughts that can devour me if I am not in the presence of Light.
And it can’t be just a one-time thing. Letting the Light in must happen daily and, in the darkest of battles, more often than that.
I have never been good at New Year’s resolutions. I decided one year in college that I was going to start running and, as I rounded campus by the street, my friends stopped their car and rolled down the window to check on me, because they knew something had to be wrong. I adopted the idea of a word of the year a few years back, and I’m not really good at that either. I think last year’s word was “queso,” maybe?
This year, I’m going to try a sentence. I’m declaring it in the middle of January so there will be less pressure.
“Your presence is my favorite place.”
In God’s presence, in His word and in prayer — that’s where light comes in. It’s waiting outside as the sun was waiting to beam into the dome. We simply have to open up, accept it and let it shine through us. The hymn I hold most dearly to my heart puts it this way:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the LIGHT of His glory and grace.
PS: I know better than to use a high-schooler’s picture and not give them the proper photo creds. So thanks, Sara Carson Hailey, for the picture that has taught me so much about letting Light in.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Madison and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 6 years old, and a son, Russell, who is 4 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at email@example.com.