This I Believe

Brent - Evansville, Indiana
Entered on October 29, 2008
Themes: morality
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This I believe… Stay in the light.

As a 15 year old I spent the summer working at a camp 11 hours from home. My youth group leader, Mac, asked me to work at his camp. I would be away from home for the first time. Mac and his wife, Debi, were there to oversee my friend and me who made up the entire work crew. Mac had offered me this great opportunity, and Debi treated me like a son. She was caring and demanding.

One evening my friend summoned me to come upstairs by the meeting rooms. When I arrived I found my friend and two girls standing in the shadowy alley between the two meeting rooms. I was caught totally off guard. I fumbled around for a few moments, made an excuse, and left. Some people may have thought I missed an opportunity. What I did not miss was the life lesson . . . Stay in the light.

As I hastened my retreat I passed by Debi. She saw me and simply said, “I didn’t know you did things like that.â€? I slunk away feeling guilty. Even a step into the shadows brings the impression of wrongdoing and the sense of guilt.

The lesson I learned at 15 was that the darkness, the shadows, are not only a place but a feeling. The shadows give the feeling that nobody will know what I am doing, that I will not be held accountable. Sadly, the protection the shadows appear to give is a thin veneer. In reality, even stepping into the shadows has a consequence. Just going into the shadows casts doubt on your actions. I experienced that first hand with a sharp comment.

More importantly, the danger in the shadows is the temptation they offer. They lure you in believing no one will see you. It won’t count. That false sense of security can be a powerful decoy to obscure what is right, good and healthy. Shadows are not always as simple as the dark area between two meeting rooms. A traveler may find the anonymity of a city provides the shadow to hide actions. Many people find the same obscurity in a crowd. The temptation grows to yell something or throw something knowing that it will be virtually impossible to pinpoint who said or threw it. The mystery created by a shadow invites behavior that would not seem enticing in the light. Las Vegas has made this idea a tourism campaign. They want you to think your actions will be hidden from home. What happens there stays there. We know that is not really true.

What kind of decisions would I have made had I stayed in the shadows between the meeting rooms? My heartfelt advice is to stay in the light. Keep yourself in the light of people who know you and hold you accountable. Being accountable is one way to stay in the light. This I believe . . . Stay in the light.