The Bright Spark Network
What is it that makes some of us wet blankets and others bright sparks? (From the Soul Searching radio series 1983-92 revised 2013)
By Keith Newman
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main...Any man's death diminishes me, because i am involved in mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee," - John Donne (1573-1631 in Devotions)
TINY SPARKS JUMP the gap as we cross paths, exchange words, or just brush past in a hurry for our next appointment.
The slightest glance, raised eyebrow or hint of interest is a form of communication.
Acknowledgment helps establish a connection - an electrical exchange of positive or negative.
There are endless opportunities to connect into the network of humanity, countless reasons to take time, to step into someone else's energy field, say hello and watch where the sparks take us.
We can choose to respond positively, welcoming an exchange of simple courtesies or complex ideas.
Alternatively we can deflect the sparks with our protective armour, step sideways, raise our noses in the air or stare at the footpath, blocking any further attempts at communication.
A smile uses fewer muscles than a frown and is more fun but so many people today find it is much easier and less threatening to turn their backs and move on. Through fears and past hurts many feel it necessary to ignore signals of friendship and restrict those they put out.
We cannot, however, turn our backs forever. Sooner or later we going to have to make contact and let someone penetrate the mask.
Some folk suffer from insecurity. They are afraid of being rejected themselves so they end up rejecting others unintentionally. In their attempt to avoid being hurt they hurt others.
It is Iike these people live behind rubber walls shorting out incoming sparks and ensuring none escape. What a hollow existence - a sad and lonely place to be behind those rubber walls.
In their attempt to remain secure they build a prison. The trouble is if you don't get to know others you remain unknown - perhaps you will not even know yourself?
If you make no friends you will remain friendless. If you do not love, the chances are you will be unloved. Such people when alone with their own thoughts are truly alone. They have let no-one see their deeper needs or share their hurts. They have become an island unto themselves as John Donne so aptly put it.
We all carry with us an atmosphere, if we are weighted down with depression and self pity that is what we unload on others. Those sparks of energy we knowingly or otherwise share, convey our inner state. In learning to read the messages we can become conscious of any shadows we carry.
Failure to appreciate others can stand in the way of any appreciation we may have earned. As we reject others, we bring rejection on ourselves. Anger, frustration and worry are more than likely the prime causes of cancer and heart failure.
It does us no good to live on the emotional fault line.
Mountains of grief will slowly stunt and deform our character and perhaps our physical being as well. Unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, anxiety, repressed guilt, frustration and fear will poison our system and pollute our spark of life.
Undealt with attitudes will prevent us from having healthy relationships. The failure to leave yesterday's suitcases back where they belong will cripple us. The weight is just too much.
Shutting ourselves off, for whatever reason, will blight our character and ultimately effect all those we come into contact with. If left to brood on the could-have-beens and the should-have-beens and life's injustices toward us, we will soon find the only suitable companion is our own self pity.
Right relationships no matter how fleeting, are a healing thing. The more we interact with each other and become involved in each others lives, our inner lights will begin to glow brighter. With each reassuring word and kindness shared our self esteem and sense of worth begin to return. Special considerations are reciprocated as we hold each other in mutual regard.
Associations between people sharpen the mind, broaden the outlook and tune the heart. As we begin to strike deeper chords with acquaintances, trust is formed and we are then able to relate guarded thoughts without fear of betrayal.
The longer we submit to each other, without making unrealistic demands; expecting friends to continually concede to our view of the world, the more open and enduring our relationships will become.
This is the kind of transparency the Bible encourages. Such intimacy leads to healing. We can reveal deep hurts and open wounds, not so others may gloat, but for cleansing.
The confession of deeds that plague our conscience eases the burden. Discussing issues at this deep-heart level brings light to darkened corners, challenges our old patterns and confirms our best thoughts.
Under such challenge the wise person is able to adjust and grow with that inner electricity emitting a more positive charge out into the world.
Coming to the cross of Christ requires a two-way commitment - God first and then sharing his love with others. The healing salve of his Holy Spirit continually works to bring us to wholeness.
"For the Lord sees not as the world sees, for the world looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart," - 1 Samuel 16:7 (paraphrased)
If we are in right relationship with Christ we have an anchor for our souls - a reason to feel right about ourselves because we are right with him. The power in Christ's life was there because he was who he said he was. In Christ we can also know who we are as we move toward the goal of salvation or "wholeness".
So it is with all relationships. If what we say and do lines up with who we are, we can interact without fear or pretense or need of a lie.
We become a force for healing in the world instead of an unknowing transmitter of confusion.