It was talked about it for weeks, months, years even—The Great American Eclipse. My area of South Carolina was in the swath of totality so people traveled here to watch. Hotels were booked weeks in advance and navigating traffic the day before and the day of made you feel as if you were in a major metropolis.

As the time neared 2:28, the cicadas, which usually “sing” at night, launched into loud cacophony of sound. The little bit of light cast eerie shadows. As the moon covered the sun for a matter of minutes and then slowly moved on, people several streets away cheered and fireworks boomed. And then as the sky brightened, two hawks, which usually hunt for breakfast in our back yard, appeared, calling to each other. The noise of cicadas dissipated and the birds filled the air with song. The anticipated phenomenon occurred, and then the eclipse glasses were cast aside and life moved on.

Most people know the primary definition of eclipse as the total or partial obscuring of one celestial body by another, but there are other definitions: passing into the shadow of another; falling into obscurity or decline; to make less important or popular; to do or be much better than someone or something; to surpass; to obscure or darken.

“Eclipse” is one of those interesting words that has both positive and negative connotations. It can mean to increase or decline, to be better than or less than, to rise or to fall.

You can probably remember a time in your life when you were eclipsed. Maybe you felt certain you were guaranteed a promotion, leadership position, or contract only to be eclipsed by someone or something that seemed to materialize from nowhere. Or perhaps you had already reached a zenith when your support, popularity, or favor suddenly began a rapid decline. As you plummeted, another blasted off and surpassed you.

Here are some things to consider about being eclipsed:

Sometimes what appears genuine is counterfeit. Prior to the eclipse a number of companies bought protective eyewear for their employees, but later determined what they had purchased was bogus. Scamming is becoming more prevalent these days, and sometimes it’s easy to get sucked into what seems legitimate. “Caveat emptor” probably should be tattooed on our brains so we think more than two seconds before deciding to purchase, sign up for, or commit to. Remember that not everyone has the same morals and values you do. Take time to investigate and determine whether what you think you’re seeing or experiencing is real, and whether people are really who and what they claim to be. Don’t allow yourself to be eclipsed by what is counterfeit. While it’s tempting to go with the promise of something you’ve longed for, hold out for what is genuine.

An eclipse isn’t an everyday occurrence. While various forms of eclipses happen somewhere in the world more frequently than every 40 years or so, they don’t happen every day. In your personal life, avoid getting into a mindset that causes you to think you shouldn’t even attempt something because some event will eclipse your efforts or someone better will knock you out of the running. Sure, things might not turn out as you hoped or anticipated, but if you never try something new or push yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of, you’re not experiencing forward motion. If you don’t feel confident, remind yourself of past achievements, and remember, when you are weak, God is strong.

Learn to view what happened through a filter. If you look at an eclipse for too long without a filter, it can do permanent damage to your eyes. Likewise, focusing on a personal eclipse damages self-esteem and weakens your courage to attempt the next step forward. Don’t allow an event in your life to eclipse you permanently. The period of totality in the solar eclipse lasted about 3 minutes. Then, light burst through around the edges. Filter out the darkness and discouragement and allow light to shine through. Push the event, or the person who eclipsed you, to the side and move forward, with anticipation, to what is ahead.

“You groped your way through the murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it!” (Ephesians 5:8 MSG)

“Live like children of the light.” (Ephesians 5:8b NIRV)

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