I can’t express how stoked I am. In order to convey my illustration, I have to be geeky – I have to accurately explain the nature of a black hole.
“Hole” has always been a misnomer (leading to a lot of inaccurate artists’ renderings over the years, corrected only recently for the mainstream in 2014’s Interstellar). A black hole is an exotic star, one collapsed so far and grown so dense that its gravity out to a certain spherical distance is strong enough to restrain all light emanating from it. Since an object is only seen by the light it reflects to your eyeballs, that spherical region of a black hole appears, well, black to the outside observer. The star itself is still inside, but forever hidden from view because its light can’t reach you.*
For a long time, I was a black hole. Sucking everything in, emitting very little. God was slowly working on my strength, changing me from the inside, but it was a process.
Then, a few years ago, I chanced into a dating relationship. We had a good five months together before she called it off. That’s okay. It happens. (She’s engaged now.) But it was a revealing time for me. I got a chance to see how such companionship affected me, what it brought out, what it exposed.
Amongst the discoveries was this: while we dated, I started taking risks I hadn’t taken before. I found a greater enthusiasm for people, asking how they were, hearing their stories. And later, after the relationship ended, I found myself tempted to revert to my usual introversion. After some self-reflection, I realized why.
The tug of social hesitation, fear of what others think, disappointment with life, etc. asserting itself – reasserting itself – overwhelming my emanations, restraining my heart from reaching out to others. Causing me to slump. Like a black hole, hiding my light.
Whereas during my relationship, I’d become bolder without realizing it because I had backup. A lot of married people might not understand this (or might have forgotten), but some singles will. When I was dating, I had someone to fall back on, someone to offer support, if a risk went sour. A teammate. Prior to that, I’d had nobody to fall back on except echoes of contempt from the devil and my unsanctified self. Risks were more daunting. With a girlfriend, something subconscious felt safer; my relationship felt like a springboard for qualities and gifts that had previously lain dormant.
And as I realized this, weeks after the breakup, another thought sprang up in response:
Why on earth should it take a girlfriend to unlock this stuff? I HAVE GOD!!! Criminy. I have the Creator of the universe, my very Father and Designer, the one who sent his Son to die so I could be saved from my sins and enjoy close communion with him, the one who delights in me – I have that at my back! What have I been doing with him all this time?
I suspect I’m not alone in this. It just goes to show how low we regard God’s love, or how green we are at experiencing it, or how muddy and distorted our views of God must be. It’s not as if the problem is on his end. We choose to operate with so little of him. We really do.
And that is not how it should be.
Some married folks might reply, “You’re being a little hard on yourself. I know my spouse brings out the best in me.” Well and good. Except – I have no guarantee I’ll ever find another half. Should I lay in wait, a shadow of myself, until and unless that happens? May it never be. I’m convinced that such a thing is an insult to God and his all-sufficiency. That is not how we are called to handle singleness.
Admittedly, one of the hardest things we can ever do is continue radiating, continue sending out love to people when it seems to take everything we have just to show up to church as an empty suit. Tragedy or built-up frustration slumps our shoulders. It’s tough.
But that doesn’t stop other people from needing us. Every one of us has a light. We are all called to be a light to the world, largely because the world is dark and badly needs us.
So, ever since then, I’ve made a conscious effort to keep pouring and pursuing others’ hearts, even on days when everything’s going wrong and I frankly couldn’t give a fig about others. That’s okay. All that means is that God will have to step in and be my strength.
Is there anything – tragedy, anger, singleness, any source of emotional gravity – that you’re allowing to arrest your light? Don’t let it. We must never become black holes. At least not for very long. There are times when God lets us grieve. But eventually, we must reach escape velocity.
After all, Jesus’ disappointments never stopped him.
Thank God they didn’t.
*Geek note: those arcs of light that appear above and below the black hole? That light isn’t actually there. What you’re seeing is the backside of the accretion rings, the part behind the black hole; its gravity is bending the light from the backside, rerouting it above and below the hole instead of blocking it. How often do you get to see right around an object?