Guest Post: Searchlights Spotlights, and Beacons

Guest post by Carrie:

It is one thing to grow up in darkness, and find light later on in life. Like searchlights that suddenly find you when you realize that you’re lost. Searchlights are blinding for a moment, but they’re a welcome sight. The intent of a searchlight is to seek that which is lost. Once the lost is found, the light is turned off or moved on to a different target. God himself is the searchlight operator, or at the very least, the dispatch officer who sends out the searchlights.

It’s another thing entirely to grow up in a spotlight. To have never known anything other than blinding light that makes every one of your flaws stand out. To feel the need to squash even thoughts that will bring the judgement of others. To never be able to admit to a struggle or a temptation without fear of reprimand or ridicule. And to find the welcome relief of darkness, stillness, and quiet. Finding the gentleness and grace of a moment when the blinding spotlight is turned off and eyes are allowed to open.

Spotlights blind those who are in them. If you’ve ever been on stage, in a spotlight, you’d know that it makes seeing the audience virtually impossible. Every detail of you is lit up and brought to the attention of the audience. The light is not the point of attraction, you are. You are being scrutinized. You are being watched. The light itself is pretty much ignored.

This is what church feels like to me. A place where people are put in a spotlight and are expected to perform… All while being told to be sincere (real, genuine, without wax filling in the cracks). And, since I was born there, I always felt like I was expected not to even have any cracks. Like there could be nothing inherent in me that wasn’t a choice to do or be wrong.

I have no interest in spotlights.

If you’ve ever stood next to one of those big lights that people use at grand openings to attract attention, you’d see that they’re designed for the light to shine upward, not outward. They don’t actually provide a whole lot of light to their immediate vicinity, but they can be seen for miles. The light itself is the attraction. It is a beacon that attracts. It doesn’t reveal much. It doesn’t blind. This is the kind of light God wants the church to be. A beacon on a hill that draws people to HIM.

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