When I Need to Step Off the Porch

A few weeks ago, during the last half of my spring break, I was at a teacher training. The nerd in me can’t get enough learning. Prince Charming Jokes I could be a professional student. He’s right.

The days filled my brain and my heart.

The training was intense, but meaningful—filled with affirmations of what I already do and equipping me to be even better. Good stuff.

So many nuggets of truth float in my brain from those few days.

But one Truth struck deep.

A fellow teacher spoke words of encouragement to another at the training. The teacher called the woman across the table a porch light.

A porch light.

Maybe you’ve heard the term or are familiar with the connotation.

It was new to me.

The teacher went on to explain how porch lights are those people who shine bright for others living in the dark shadows of their own personal nights. The porch light illuminates the path so the hurting and suffering can see their way to hope.

I’m reminded of my first days spent in the dark. Days when I really didn’t know who I was or why the shadows closed so tight. Lost and confused, I retreated deep into myself.

Withdrawn, I didn’t know where to begin looking for light.

A phone call came. A crack in my shield.

We’re worried about you. You’ve withdrawn. You’re not yourself.

We’re here.

Suddenly, with those words, I began to see flickers of light. Light in the distance waiting to warm my heart.

My friends were porch lights.

With them, I could be honest, transparent—myself. I could struggle in a place I wasn’t alone.

But here’s the thing about porch lights. If I had to walk down darkened street to glowing homes with their lights on, I’m not sure I would have made it.

I’m not one to reach out for help. I’m not one to beg for a life raft. I’m not one to walk to the porch with the brilliant glow. When you’ve been in the dark for too long, the light hurts. It hurt to get close and reaching out wasn’t something I could conceptualize.

So my friends stepped off.

They stepped off the porch and into the dark—bringing their torches with them. Then they held my hands, step-by-step, walking me their way. Their bright, radiant way.

In this world, we are called to be light for this great, big, scary world.

The Message version of the Scriptures brings this truth: “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

We are God’s light in the darkness.

But sometimes we have to step off our porches.

Is that not the mission of Christ on the cross? Did He not leave the Light of heaven? Did He not step down into our darkness, carrying His torch to the broken, the hurting, the shadow-dwellers?

We must welcome others with our porch lights. We must keep open our homes.

But.

I know in my depths I need to do more stepping off and reaching into the darkness with my torch. Because some people won’t come toward the bright—it hurts too much. No. Some are waiting. Waiting for us to remind them they are worthy of God’s great love.

It’s impossible for me to bear my torch into the dark places of every shadowed corner. Yet I can bring candles. Candles of hope in gestures of compassion.

A card. A meal. A phone call. A message. An errand. A balloon. A kind word. A hug.

I know this—Light shows up. It shows up and darkness cannot stay.

Friends, we don’t have to blaze an inferno. We can just show up with our candles. And sometimes we can show up with torches. The point is, we show up and we bring light.

The porch is a beautiful place, warm and inviting. A place for community and communing, rocking chairs and lemonade. A place of brilliant light.

But porches were never created as a space to stay forever. We can’t live on our porch.

Sometimes we need grab courage and step into the dark.

There is a world desperate for our lights—lights illuminating the path to Hope.

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7 Responses to When I Need to Step Off the Porch

  1. Kim bell says:

    Wow!!! So very true.. love it!!!

  2. Andrea says:

    Love!!!

  3. Linda Gunger says:

    This brought tears! So beautifully written!

  4. Lynda says:

    I just love how you laid this simple truth out there. Well done.

  5. I love this, Heather! Thanks for stepping off your porch to share this beautiful message. Love you. 🙂

  6. Cathy says:

    So meaningful

  7. This was a beautiful way to express ideas that have been prevalent in my own thoughts lately. Thank you.

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