Initially, being asked to write for Your NFC was surprising and a little weird. Those around the church who know me, whether through children’s ministries or NFC Bells, have probably noticed a distinct lack of my presence around the building since the fall. I’ve been going through some big life changes that have taken me farther from Newberg, and I think maybe that’s actually why this is good timing. I hope that as our church moves forward through the discernment process, maybe I can offer some encouragement to those who find themselves struggling.
Life changes are hard! It doesn’t matter whether they’re for better or worse, they can be stressful. I would say my life changes have been mostly for the good. But…that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a challenge. As I’ve shared at times during devotionals with the handbell choir, I’ve struggled with mental health since high school. Usually it just drains my energy, but sometimes it can feel like I’m constantly arguing with myself. I found it wonderfully appropriate that I was asked to write this while I was reading through the book of Job, where I recognized some of my own internal struggle in his back-and-forth with his friends. Some of you may recognize that inner struggle, whether personally or in the community. For when times get dark, I want to share my thoughts on Christ as Light that I’ve been holding onto since our family lit the Christ candle several Christmases ago.
One of the principles that stuck with me from way back as a high school freshman in biology is this: there is no true cold, only an absence of heat; there is no true dark, only an absence of light. Now, growing up a voracious reader, I would often find myself up in the living room well after the rest of the family had gone to bed. On some of my better nights, I would remember to leave my bedroom light on so I could easily find my way once I turned off the living room lights. Some nights were more challenging though. Maybe my door was only cracked and not wide open, so there was less light. Maybe there were more obstacles on the floor. Maybe I misjudged where the coffee table corner was. Worst of all, maybe I hadn’t left my light on at all! At those times though, all was not lost. There was no true darkness. (There is no true darkness). From the hallway, around a corner, there came the faint glow of the thermostat. That would be my lifeline. The journey might take longer as I second-guessed my path, but as long as I could focus on that small glow, I knew I would get around the corner and find my bedroom (with all the warmth and comfort that implies).
This is the image I keep with me when I’m going through hard patches. Jesus is my thermostat. If I have him, I can find my way eventually. No matter how hard it might seem while the journey is in progress. If we know where to adjust our eyes and hearts, we can find that path to (Jesus, God, wholeness, Shalom, _____).
So, my hope for myself and our congregation is that this little imagery might be comforting. Life is a big mix of good and bad, easy and tough, dark and light. But we’re not alone in the darkness as long as we have each other and Jesus. Darkness is temporary and incomplete. The light of love of God is forever and unconquerable.
Heidi Tschan is a Newberg native, George Fox graduate, and recent transplant to Salem. She has grown up as a regular NFC attender, TRFC camper and volunteer, and 3rd/4th grade Sunday school teacher. Heidi recently bought her first house in Salem while still working in Newberg. Outside of work and church, she has been involved with theaters in Salem and McMinnville, singing, sewing, and being a nerd.