Light—it comes in many different forms. From the sun during the day and sometimes the moon at night. From a switch we flip on in the morning that makes us squint to the festive lights for almost any holiday. The glow of a lightning bug you want to catch or a child’s face when they are excited. It is something many of us take for granted.
We can all use the sun of course, but not everyone has the luxury of light. While most of us do, some go without. No lights also come with no heat. No way of making a hot meal. No family time around the dinner table. No festive Christmas tree in the corner of the living room.
This picture is special to me. This is my son. He is two years old, taking in Christmas lights from his first trip to the zoo. You can see the excitement and admiration in his eyes. Something as simple as Christmas lights can make this little boy stop and take it all in. He was in awe of something most of us take for granted.
The boy in this picture was not carried by me, nor do we share DNA. We can never say he has his mother’s eyes or his father’s smile. While we cannot say we share physical traits, we can say he gets other characteristics from us. His ability to love and be kind to everyone. His compassion he shows when someone is hurting. The bowing of his head during prayer. All those things—the things that matter—he got from us. He has been our light.
He was born into an environment most of us would be terrified of. He was born addicted to drugs. He was released to go home with his birth mother. The system had failed him. Unfortunately, he is not alone.
Fast forward to his first birthday when he was rescued from a drug house. A place where any drug or paraphernalia was readily available at any given time. A place so cluttered and filthy, paths led you from one room to the next. A place that was heated by a kerosene heater in November. A place with no light.
My son went without. Without heat, without cleanliness, and without light. That November, when God’s bigger plan for him started, he saw light. The lights on a Christmas tree from the night my husband and I first met him. The sparkle in our eyes when we look at him. The light above a full kitchen table that prays over dinner. The light of a brighter future.
My son has taught me that God’s plan is far greater than the one I had for myself. Our family was complete after our third child—I was sure of it. The night we met him, an instant connection sparked between us. We instantly fell in love. I saw life in a different light.
Through this journey, I have been reassured that my children have been raised well despite having attitudes at times. While our son has my eyes and our daughters their father’s, physically they show other, more rich characteristics. Compassion toward a little brother they never thought they would ever have. Love toward one another, their parents, family, and friends. Acceptance of all people even if they think differently than them. Faith in our God above.
We learn lessons every day. They are not always taught by our elders. They don’t always come from a textbook or from a mistake made. Sometimes, they sneak up on us and are taught by those unaware they are giving a lesson.
I have learned a lot from my son. I have learned that my plans can change quickly and may not always be what I had planned for myself. I have learned to open my heart and mind to a new little one I didn’t know I needed. I have learned children have a greater impact on people than either one is aware of. I have also learned something good can come out of almost any situation.
Light—it comes in many different forms. From the sun during the day and sometimes the moon at night. The brightness of a smile to a stranger in turn may encourage them to do the same. So pay it forward next time you’re in the drive-thru or see someone out to dinner alone. Rake your elderly neighbors’ leaves. Compliment that mom who thinks she is failing at everything. Take the time to notice the things we take for granted. Humanity, family, money, and faith. And maybe, if you’re lucky, you too can be someone’s light.