Argh!! The lights are too bright! Please, please will you turn the light off? May I shut the blinds and curtains? Argh!! The light is still glinting menacingly, reflecting off the window ledges, through the cracks in the blind and off every slightly reflective surface. With my whole being I want to move away from the lights and turn off yet more lights – oh, you’ve already switched them all off – I didn’t realise! Help! What is wrong with me? It’s just too bright for me! I need my sunglasses ALL the time! And even they are not dark enough for me!
This has been my life in recent weeks. It’s fact not fiction. I have been scouring the internet and discovering that I have got sensory sensitivities beyond the normal range. They call it Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). It seems that the way my brain processes sound and light and smells is just different to most people. It seems that my brain isn’t shutting out the background extraneous sensors, but is letting it all in at full volume and brightness. Eeek!
It has been quite a shock to how I perceive myself and my life. It has meant a steep learning curve on how to protect myself from the ordinary sensory stimuli of light, sound and even smells.
If I do not change my ways to protect myself, I find that I become overloaded, tired, without energy and feeling low in my mood. Sometimes I even break down in stress tearfulness without really understanding why. It has been most perplexing, to say the least.
On bright sunny days I now live with the curtains closed most of the time, until the sun starts setting, that is. I have bought varying strengths of sunglasses – some to wear indoors and other, darker ones, to wear in brighter sunshine. I have bought sunhats with wide brims to give me extra shade (yes, I have even worn these indoors too!), a black-out eye mask for relaxing in, a ton of ear-plugs, and even a pair of ear-defenders!
I have also been asking those around me in my life for a bit more compassion and understanding as I seek to minimise the stress to my body and mind from overstimulation of these three senses; light, sound and smells.
I think that I have always been this way, if I am honest. It’s just that, for some reason, the difficulties appear to have recently become more obviously pronounced for me. I have always had dimmer switches on my lights, until they broke and have been replaced by standard switches. Now I kind of cower when I try to enter the brightly lit kitchen in the evening, when all the lights are on. I beg my sons to turn the lights off before I can enter the room. My household has got used to me doing this, but no one has ever wondered why I do it. No one has ever put two and two together to reach the obvious answer – until now that is!
I have also always been averse to “cooking smells,” and my family are all too familiar with a lifetime of me calling out the alert, “Shut the kitchen door! Cooking smells! Cooking smells!” I didn’t want the smells to permeate the house as they caused me to feel some type of ongoing olfactory discomfort. Even to the point of preventing me sleeping, if they happened to seep into my bedroom at night.
I have always found that I hated the way that the smell of cooking seemed to linger on my clothing and even in my hair. I tend to get changed into my “cooking clothes,” and then change back into my everyday wear when the cooking is finished. Still no one thought it too odd. It’s just how I was. My sons grew up with me being like this, so to them it was normal, I suppose.
But then, a few weeks ago, everything just felt TOO LOUD!!!
I broke down in tears as the noise and light stress tipped the balance in my ability to cope, in a loud, large, brightly lit, open-plan office environment! And that was the start of my lightbulb moment of realisation that all was not normal with my sensory system.
After a few days of intense reading and telephone calls to various people I finally understood that I was struggling with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). This at last made sense of all these sensory overload issues that I had been navigating for over fifty years of my lifetime. This is now the start of a new defensive way to take care of myself.
So here I am, armed with various strengths of sunglasses, sunhats “coming out of my ears,” as the saying goes; and you’ve guessed it, ear-plugs stuffed into my ears too! This is the new me!
At work, you will find me hidden away in the corner of the office, behind large sound boards, covered with an office-type of sunshade, with my ear-defenders on!
Peace at last. Bliss!
The Spiritual Application
So, what has all this got to do with my Christian blog, I can hear you all wondering? Well it has a lot to do with it, as you will soon realise.
Firstly, I have learnt that whatever problems I struggle with in my life, that God doesn’t want me merely turning to worldly wisdom for my answers. Yes, it’s been good to read about this sensory condition – reading other people’s experiences has been invaluable to me. But God didn’t want me to JUST do that. He has been wanting me to come to Him and lean upon Him.
Secondly, God is always wanting to teach me various spiritual lessons in and through my life’s troubles. God will use everything and anything to teach His dear children how to grow in their faith, drawing closer to Him, and being a witness and a light to those lost in darkness in the process. And there we have it my friends! A reference, finally, to the LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS – the dawning of my understanding that the spiritual light of Christ may grow brighter and clearer in my life, even as my physical world must grow darker and quieter. The stark contrast has been most illuminating to me, if I may say so.
Light Versus Darkness
Let me explain further for you. As regular readers will know, I am a born-again Christian, who being filled with God’s Holy Spirit, has got the “light of Christ” within me.
Many will be familiar with the scripture, from 1 John 1:5:
“God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”
And you will be aware, no doubt, that Jesus claimed that He is the LIGHT, saying,
“I am the light of the world.
He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John 8:12
but He also said to His disciples,
“You are the light of the world.”
Due to my recent understanding of my sensory issues, my eyes and ears are now opened more fully to the deeper meanings to various passages of scripture that relate to light and darkness. My physical difficulties are thus leading me to deeper Bible study and greater comprehension of these concepts. I have considered the sheer wonder and strangeness that I will be sat at work in a darkened, quietened corner whilst I have the brightest light of the universe within me – the light that is Christ the Saviour, the Lord and maker of heaven and earth. Compare that to the rest of the folks in the room with me, who will be bathed in artificial, man-made lighting but who have darkness within them!
How dare I make such statements? Because that is what the Bible states. It says of the born-again believers the following things:
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8
“No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light. The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light.
But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore, take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light, as when the bright shining of a lamp gives you light.” Luke 11:33-36 & Matthew 6:22-23
“The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore, let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Romans 13:12-14
Such stark and diametrically opposing positions of darkness and light are frequently used in the Bible to explain those who truly belong to, and live for, the Lord Jesus Christ, as opposed to those who are still in enmity against Him, who are living in darkness.
“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people;
But the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.
The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isaiah 60:1-3
“Therefore, He says: “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:14
And most famously John’s gospel states:
“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:18-21
And yes, I am finding that some of those people in that brightly lit office environment are seeming to dislike the light of Christ within me, even as they walk in their darkness.
The Bible tells us that those who indulge in the “works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God.” In Galations we are given the following list that spells out the behaviours that followers of Christ are to avoid.
“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like…” Galatians 5:19-21
It seems that most people do not want to know, the way of truth and life that is the light of the Lord Jesus Christ. I would most gladly tell any with ears to hear, the wonderous story of the salvation plan that is open to whosoever would come to humble themselves before the Saviour of the world.
I am pondering if the Lord has perhaps arranged my life situation for me to end up sitting in darkness in order to be a witness to His light. I am pondering if it may be part of His process for me becoming more like “a grain of wheat” planted in the dark, silent earth, to produce the type of “fruit” that He is desiring from me. I am pondering if it may be the Lord’s protection for me from the difficulties of living amongst a people of “unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). It certainly seems that the Lord has provided a unique answer (to my many prayers) to be protected from some of the ungodly conversations that ebb and flow around me in such an office environment. As they say, God often works in mysterious ways.
SIDE NOTE: A few days after writing this article (and posting it) I read, on a blog that I follow, a wonderful passage regarding how the Lord wants to speak to His people. The author’s enthusiastic love for the Lord spills over in her writing, which is a lovely blessing. But it is the fact that she makes reference to having “soundproof barriers up all around you,” that has caused me to copy this wonderful paragraph for you here.
“Over and over and over again, He proves how powerful and kind He is, and every time I’m still surprised that He chooses to lavish me with this unconditional love! I can’t keep quiet about Him! Because I have tasted the sweetness and richness and the satisfying fulfillment from an aching “hunger” that was there before I surrendered myself to Jesus completely.
Before I really knew what hearing Him speak was like.
When those walls are gone, the open relationship and communication you get to have with your Father, your best friend, your Savior… It’s unbelievable!!
I honestly used to think that just wasn’t a thing – that God didn’t communicate with His people anymore.
But, that’s because you can’t hear Him when you have soundproof barriers up, all around you!
If I named every way He has laid something out for me to perfectly align with what I was talking to Him about, whether directly from His word, from a sermon, from a song exactly when I needed to hear it, or a direct answer to prayer, your mind would be blown! Even if His answer is “no” or “wait,” I know without a doubt, with FULL confidence, that He has my best interest in mind!
Do you know how freeing and comforting it is to know the God of the universe is on your side?! That the King of Heaven longs to hold His broken creation close to Him, and have an intimate relationship where He knows everything about you, and you get to know Him in return!?!”
You can read her article “Taste and See” here on her blog Beautifully Broken.
The Perfect Day
Some years ago, actually on a New Years Day, the Lord caught my attention massively by a little passage in Proverbs. It said:
“But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.
The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.”
It gave me great hope, when I was at that time, feeling rather depressed. It spoke to me that my life, with the Lord, is going to a better place. I am a pilgrim in this life, just passing through, on my way to the promised land. Whereas those who do not belong to Jesus are stumbling along in darkness, just as they think they are prospering in this life. What a dichotomy! Such polar opposites. Black and white. Night and day. Darkness and light.
Those who are longing for that “brighter, perfect day,” can take encouragement from the wonderful vision of our future that John recorded for us in the book of Revelation, as follows.
“Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God.
Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.” Revelation 21:9b-11
We know that in the letter of Timothy, that Jesus is referred to as the Lord of lords and King of kings, “who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light…” 1 Tim 6:16
And also, in Revelation 21:22-24, we read of this future heaven:
“But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.”
“There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:5
And there, or course, I will not need to wear my sunglasses or ear-defenders!
Son-bathing in the light of Christ is the one spiritual “sensory overload” that I am looking forward to. The Perfect Day.
I expect to be totally lost in wonder, adoration and praise in His LOVE forever and ever.
Jesus Bids Us Shine
I have been happily singing the sweet little song from my long-ago childhood days, of “Jesus Bids Us Shine.” Because it refers to shining in my small corner, and that is the image of myself at the office.
To close this post, I leave you with the words of the song, “Jesus Bids Us Shine.”
Jesus bids us shine with a clear, pure light,
Like a little candle burning in the night;
In this world of darkness, we must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.
Jesus bids us shine, first of all for Him;
Well He sees and knows it, if our light is dim;
He looks down from heaven, sees us shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.
Jesus bids us shine, then, for all around
Many kinds of darkness in this world abound:
Sin, and want, and sorrow—we must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.
Jesus bids us shine, as we work for Him,
Bringing those that wander from the paths of sin;
He will ever help us, if we shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.
May you likewise, keep shining the true light of Christ, whatever corner of this earth the Lord happens to put you in.
Blessings to you,
from my little corner of the world,
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