In Chinese philosophy, there are two principles, one negative and dark (yin) and one positive and light (yang). These opposing forces are actually complementary, interconnected, and interact to form a vibrant system in which the whole is greater than the parts.
Keep this thought in mind, as we move forward to discuss the art method of chiaroscuro. Centuries ago, Leonardo DaVinci was fascinated by chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro, an Italian word, describes the contrast of light and shadow. DaVinci’s intense study of light and shadow caused him to revolutionize painting as he showed how the use of shadow can make a two-dimensional painting portray a three-dimensional image. Paintings prior to the Renaissance look amateurish and cartoonish next to those painted with the understanding of chiaroscuro.
Our own lives need darkness to balance the light. As we strive to add goodness and knowledge to our lives, we will discover an increasing amount of difficulty and darkness there as well. It is up to us to continue to choose the light, even while seeing the effects of the darkness.
The darkness better helps us appreciate the light in our lives. My own trials bring a depth of empathy and compassion for the struggles of others. I cannot stand with a pointing finger of judgment when I know, but for the help of God, I, too, would be in the grasp of addiction, bitterness, anger, or depression.
The stark contrast between the darkness of the world and the light of the Lord is all around us. Even within us.
My own weaknesses bring into striking relief the differences between myself and God. I am impatient with the shortcomings of others and often unforgiving … yet, God is ever-patient with my stumblings and my slowness to learn the lessons He is, again and again, teaching me. The Lord forgives me my mistakes and even my hardness of heart towards others—gently helping me to see their goodness and their own divinity.
Last week, a beautifully manicured woman sat down a bit too close to my husband and I as we were waiting. There was plenty of room, yet she sat right next to him, as though she were his sister. I was offended and thought, “Sheesh, lady, give us some breathing space! But I guess you’re just better than the rest of us with your perfectly styled hair and makeup and nails.”
The Lord let me sit with those negative feelings for a moment before the Spirit gently, yet still painfully whispered to my heart. Sometimes these lessons are painful, aren’t they, when we see the chasm lying between us and where the Lord would have us?
I was given an insight into this woman, this fellow traveler on the path of life. Perhaps, the Spirit whispered, she feels insecure and uses the hair, make-up, and nails to help herself feel more confident.
Instantly, I felt my heart soften towards her. How could I not? My own daughter suffers from anxiety and sets out her outfits sometimes days in advance, trying to be sure she looks stylish, so no one will make fun of her.
I felt pain and disappointment with myself. How could I, knowing what I know about my own daughter’s struggles and having dried as many of her tears as I have done, have been the kind of person who would sit in such nasty judgment on another? I felt ashamed.
Then I felt such gratitude for a loving Heavenly Father, who had so gently provided me with this internal lesson on loving others. No one else knew the lesson being taught within my heart—not even the woman, who had simply sat down.
I have darkness within myself … and I also have light. The darkness causes the light to shine in relief and it is up to me to continually reach for that better part of myself as I become the daughter of God He intends me to be.
However, we need to be aware that as we reach for the light within ourselves, as we strive to add more goodness—Satan will increase his efforts to tear us down. He may attack us through whispering sabotaging thoughts causing us to freeze in fear of failure.
He may attack us through loved ones’ weaknesses. Suddenly a seemingly strong relationship is fraught with fault lines triggering enmity and hurt. Our thoughts and our time, rather than being useful and filled with purpose, are instead filled with hours spent dealing with these negative interactions.
We need to be aware that as we try to grow closer to God’s light that Satan will try to pull us down with an equal measure of darkness. We need to open our eyes to these attacks so that we can fight back.
When those doubting thoughts come, immerse yourself in scripture study, service, and surround yourself with uplifting positive people. When relationships are suddenly a source of contention, step away! Step away and fill your time with good. Trust that just as the Lord brought Joseph’s brothers back into his life when they were repentant and ready, He will bring this relationship back to a positive place.
We need to realize that there is balance in this life experience. There will be darkness to balance the light. Recognize this. Continue to choose the light and add goodness, yet do not be discouraged when the darkness comes as well. It is part of this life experience.
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years.