I love sunshine. I love it when the sun lights up the world, skips on the lake, highlights trees and seasons and faces. And when I’m inside, I want the sunlight inside, too.
We bought our house because of the wall of windows in the living room. First thing in the morning I walk from window to window opening the blinds. When the sun comes in, I make my coffee and feel freed to start my day.
But the very windows I love in the morning are the windows I hate at night.
I’m afraid of someone coming in. I’m afraid of being seen through the windows without blinds. I’m especially paranoid when the light is on inside. Someone can see in, but I can’t see out.
I like it when windows bring clarity and contentment. I like it when I can look out and see the girls swinging and the neighbors walking by. I can’t stand for the blinds to be shut—that’s when I feel disconnected from myself and the world.
But I hate it when night comes and the windows become conduits of exposure. I’m overcome with the feeling of vulnerability. I feel naked and out of control. I don’t know what’s visible to others. It’s unnerving when I can’t control who sees me and what they see.
It’s just like relationships.
I love the social aspects of community—the audience I have for my stand-up routine, the friends to grab coffee with and the potluck meals.
But I hate the vulnerable part.
I don’t look as good when I’m vulnerable. I don’t look put together at night. I’m tired, my makeup has escaped from my eyelids to the dark circles underneath. And I’m often bearing the weight of a day of frustrations and a lack of self-care.
During the day, I’m as bright and shiny as I choose to be. It’s easier to control the way I come across. I can better manage my image with the sun shining in.
Nighttime is when I can’t hide as well.
And lately, I’ve been living more in the night. I’m edgy and irritable. My resting anger level is at a 6 or 7. It doesn’t take much to get me to a 10. I’ve been keenly aware that people can see in.
My kids peek in when I speak harshly to them in response to their disobedience. Those closest to me see the darkness in my unconstructive fights. Socially, I’m withdrawn, judgmental and on my best days, apathetic.
And people can see through my windows.
But there’s no point in trying to hide if you’re a human living around other humans. We all live in the dark sometimes. We all experience painful exposure—the vulnerability where everybody can see that we’re not perfect.
But these moments are just as much a part of us as the windows that let in the sun. We’re not either/or. We’re both/ and.
We love and enjoy and give. And we also snap and yell and storm off.
And just because we are seen in the night doesn’t mean we also aren’t seen during the day.
Thank God there are people who see us in the night. Thank God there are people who see the blatant imperfections or habitual sin and love us anyway. Thank God for people who can hold us accountable just by looking in, just by the mere fact that they catch us in the dark.
And maybe these faces peeking in are the best way to remember that we haven’t arrived.
Even though I give, I sometimes steal.
Even though I love, I sometimes hate.
I believe. Help my unbelief.
The nighttime windows uncover our vulnerability and give rise to our humility. We aren’t perfect, but we weren’t meant to stay in that sense of failure.
Morning always comes. The sun wakes up new mercy, bright perspective, and searing hope in the deep places of our hearts.
So maybe it’s ok if I walk by an open window at night. Whatever someone sees is a small part of the whole of me. The unmade up, lazy, tired and rejected self can handle being known—maybe even loved.
And transformation comes through exposure. Let yourself be seen. Stop trying to hide under layers.
Don’t work so hard to keep people from seeing through the windows at night.
Instead, let the dark be an avenue of change. Let vulnerability springboard you into stronger resolve, deeper love, sincere generosity.
And let people love you no matter what they see.