“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” – Jesus, as quoted in John 8:12 (NLT)
January, for me, is a long, dark month when I want to sleep and eat more, especially bread and pasta, carbs that put on the pounds and make me feel tired and achy. Not surprising, January is when I gain the most weight and am grumpier and moodier than in other months. And take the most afternoon naps.
These are all classic symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that hits folks during the winter months, when the daylight hours are shortest. Scientists believe the lack of sunlight affects the output of serotonin, which regulates mood, appetite, and sleep. The more serotonin you produce, the better you feel. Less grumpy, hungry, and tired.
Most years, we spend a week in South Carolina between Christmas and New Year’s Day, visiting our daughter and soaking up the Southern sun. This year we didn’t make the trip. What a difference! Only two weeks into January I’m dealing with the symptoms of SAD, which seem worse than other years. I attribute that to no Southern sun and all the gray, cloudy, dreary days we’ve endured here in Western Pennsylvania these past few months.
Since serotonin is affected by the amount of time spent in natural sunlight, the treatment for SAD is simple: more light.
Bright light therapy involves spending at least half an hour, usually in the morning, before a bright lamp called a light box specifically made to simulate natural sunlight.
This year I invested in a SAD lamp. I noticed a difference the first day I used it. I wasn’t so draggy and depressed. These SAD lamps are effective, but I need to stick with the program until the season changes and not stop once I start feeling better.
Biblically, darkness represents evil, sin, and ignorance – a lack of the knowledge of God and His goodness. Just as physical darkness is the absence of light, so spiritual darkness is the absence of the Light – the Son that shines in our souls when we open our hearts and lives and let Him in.
But throwing open the windows of our souls one time isn’t enough the help us as we battle the darkness of the world in which we must live. Just like a person affected by SAD must spend at least half an hour every morning absorbing light, so must our spirits spend time with the Light of the World every day, absorbing His Word and basking in His presence through prayer.
This – and only this – will give us the energy to say no to the bad carbs of temptation and avoid adding the weight of sin to our world-weary spirits. Spending time in the Sonlight will give us energy to exercise righteousness and will satisfy the taste buds of our souls (“O taste and see that the LORD is good” –Psalm 34:8).
The season of darkness won’t be over until Jesus, the Son of God, returns, but until then, you can fight the January blahs – both physically and spiritually – with a two-word plan: Fiat lux – Latin for “Let there be light!”
Thank you, Lord, for Your unending light that warms me, lightens my path, and fills me energy. Amen.
Read and meditate on Ephesians 5:8–14
© 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.