“Everybody’s got a dark side, do you love me, can you love mine?” When I first heard these words in the chorus of a Kelly Clarkson song, I pulled my car over and grabbed a pen and paper, NEEDING to write them down before they were gone. They’re a humble vulnerability, a recognition that the mask she has kept up doesn’t reveal her deep fears of being rejected for the shadows hidden deep within. “There’s a place that I know, it’s not pretty there and few have ever gone; if I show it to you now, will it make you run away?” she asks an unknown person, presumably a partner or friend.
But it’s the same question and fear that I think so many people ask of us as Christians and churches. ‘What happens when you find out my baggage? Will you run away, afraid of what you might see if you were to stay? Am I still a person worthy of love, even once you know my shortcomings?’ We all carry these concerns deep down, afraid of letting anybody too close that they might discover us to be somehow less than what we seem. Many people carry the wounds of rejection inflicted on them by Christians who deem their shadows or dark sides to be too much to love. Many avoid our doorways because they sense that passing through them will bring judgment, a criticism that they cannot bear. And many who we know as sisters and brothers in Christ go to great lengths to hide those places that only they know, the ones they feel aren’t pretty, living with their guard up and a suspicion of those who would get too close.
We all have aspects of our lives that we don’t want others to see, that we are unwilling to be vulnerable with, that raise invisible walls of protection and yet isolation. This is the truth: that everybody DOES have a dark side. But then there is the call of Christ through our brothers and sisters: do you love me? can you love mine? It is when we humbly bring forth our own fears and felt-inadequacies that we give others permission to do the same, in communities where they will not be turned away but will be brought closer out of love and grace and appreciation. Again, Clarkson shows us the way: “Or will you stay, even if it hurts; even if I try to push you out will you return? Nobody’s a picture perfect, but we’re worth it.”
We’re worth it. Every single person, in all their brokenness and doubt and hesitation, with all the dark sides and shadow places, is worth standing beside with arms stretched out in generous, welcoming love. May we find the grace Within to create space for all to come with their blemishes and fears to gain peace and acceptance within our community of hope. People all over the world are looking for someone to love them, even with their dark side. Let’s be the kind of people who say, “Yes, I love you, yes, I love yours, no matter what.”