I recently read the article, Why The World Needs Lightworkers Now More Than Ever by Catherine Winter and felt inspired to write an article of my own. I write this article anonymously for a few reasons: I really don’t want attention, the nature of my work, and a desire to keep spiritual matters separate.
I suppose I am a Lightworker, a notion I rejected because I didn’t understand what the term meant. The first few decades of my life were filled with misery because of Bipolar Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder. I’ve been as low as one can possibly be with both of these mental illnesses – surviving suicide attempts in deep depression and total disconnection from reality because of mania. Bipolar Disorder makes all spiritual matters difficult because mania can mimic the feelings associated with “positive” spiritual experiences. Mania will destroy your life if it is allowed to run amok.
It was years ago that I was first introduced to the idea of Lightworkers by a random person. My response was haughty and dismissive. The mental image I had of a Lightworker invoked the stereotypes that Catherine spoke about in her article. Many of those stereotypes were reinforced as I tried to connect with some of those people so I could see what they were like, to see if I could learn something from them about finding peace, happiness, and joy. Most turned out to be questionable people, frightened and avoiding anything they perceived to be negative.
I judged those people because I didn’t know any better. I didn’t realize that their fear was rooted in the way they perceived the world to be and how they saw themselves fit into it. Many of them were desperately trying to find some shred of happiness while drowning in debt, navigating a toxic relationship, dealing with the harshness of life or their past. They projected happiness and peace, not because they were happy or peaceful, but because they desperately wanted it in their own lives.
I thought a Lightworker had to be a sunny, happy person who exudes warmth, positivity, and love. I thought they had to be a radiant person, the kind of person that everyone wants to be around, the person quick with a smile and kind words for anyone… but that’s not the kind of person that my life and experiences forged me into. I would like to be that person, but I don’t think I ever can be.
Maybe I’m wrong though! It’s been known to happen on multiple occasions.
Love and compassion always bring pain and suffering because they require a person to be vulnerable. There isn’t always sunshine, smiles, and positive vibes. You can have those things with trusted loved ones and healthy, loving relationships, but it takes work and commitment. In the course of Lightwork those things can be much, much harder to find.
In the past month, the support group I help manage has lost two people to overdose and two to suicide. This past weekend, I was introduced to a woman whose daughter died by suicide over forty years ago. There is nothing pleasant or uplifting about that kind of grief. There are no positive vibes that will counteract the level of suffering that mother has carried for over half of her life.
I spent years scoffing at the ideas of love and compassion for other people because I was bitter, angry, and depressed. Why should I strive to be kind, loving, and compassionate when no one would give me the same? The problem is that I didn’t understand what love looked like. I didn’t realize that so many people in my life were giving me love, I was just too sick to see or appreciate it.
It took a long time for me to learn that love is not big smiles, fireworks, frenetic romance, or happy endings. Ultimately, all of those things are tempered with suffering. There’s no avoiding it. Even if you find the most perfect partner to spend your life with, sooner or later, one of you is going to pass away. Both of you will face challenges in your life that you should be able to rely on one another to get through. You can meet up with any random person and have a good time together; but what you won’t find is a horde of people who are willing to suffer with you through your lowest moments. That is love.
Love is a choice and action. And the easiest way to tell who loves you, past all of the pretty words and empty promises, is by looking at who is willing to suffer with or for you without hesitation or coercion. Those are the people that deserve a comparable amount of sacrifice and support.
The single most important component of practicing love and compassion for your fellow woman or man is self-love. You must be able to say no. You must be able to enforce boundaries. You must be able to keep yourself well, balanced, and healthy or you will get sucked under and drown in the suffering of others. You sometimes need to be the bad guy, to brush off being called cruel or uncaring. Many people look at kindness as weakness, as a weapon they can wield to harm you. And they will if you allow it. You must be able to take care of yourself.
Do I sound like a Lightworker to you? Maybe, maybe not. It doesn’t really matter either way. I don’t care much about the title. What I care about is seeing the shift in a person’s eyes from confusion and pain to recognition and hope. What I care about is seeing more mentally ill people recover, less suicides, more families intact, less domestic violence, and less children living in terror. What I care about is seeing more addicts recover, and have the long-term support they will need to stay clean. What I care about is fighting back against the pressures that result in budget cuts and under-funding.
But you? You do not need to dive headfirst into the suffering of the world to contribute. Not everyone is equipped or healthy enough to do that – and that’s okay! Do what you can, where you can. Donate money to local charities or volunteer your time or expertise for a cause that you’re passionate about if you’re able to. Help someone in need without worrying about what they can do for you. And yes, it’s very possible that they won’t appreciate it, and that’s okay, because you put a little bit of love into the world. These small acts of love can spark a huge difference in the lives of others by simply showing that you care.
And you don’t need grand gestures, fancy titles, or a spiritual awakening to undertake them.
As for me? I’m going to go into that next meeting and continue to listen to other peoples’ stories, help them push for solutions, and try to instill hope and confidence that they can overcome, too. Helping to uplift people out of that pain and suffering has brought me a peace, warmth, and love to the depths of my soul that I’ve never known before.
I suppose that’s what makes me a Lightworker.