Shine Your Light
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it in its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
- Matthew 5:14-16
I conducted an exercise with a support group several years ago. I encouraged participants to turn to one another and take turns asking the question, “Who are you?” one of the ladies graciously agreed to demonstrate the “Who are you?” dialogue with me. She responded immediately with a laugh and the statement, “I am fat!” She then continued a litany of other things about herself that were wrong. I don’t remember any of them because I wanted to stop and redirect her ASAP. I encouraged her to focus on more simple, factual (less negative and judgmental) self-statements.
Is this woman alone in her automatic perceptions of herself? By no means! I frequently have automatic thoughts that are self-demeaning. I’m pretty sure you have those types of automatic thoughts too. I like to call them ANT’s - Automatic Negative Thoughts (like nasty “ants” in your head - not my original idea, but I don’t know who came up with the ANT’s acronym). Certainly we all seem to struggle with “I’m not good enough” or “not acceptable” thoughts.
Take note right now, however, that those descriptions are simply not true! They are more likely statements of a negative self-concept or an expression of negative feelings. If I confuse “Who I am” with “How I am feeling,” then the “worlds” I create with my words will be very dramatic, unstable, and probably dark.
“Who I am” is not a negative perception or judgment. Who I am and who you are is amazing and well designed. We are more unique and capable than anything else in all of God’s creation. Your life is special. It carries a reflection of God to the world around you…if you let it. So let your light shine.
No doubt, it can be tough. We are bombarded by “not good enough” thinking, toxic comparisons, and fears of failure. In fact, it seems as though we are more comfortable talking about what we hate, what we don’t like, what we stand against, and what we will not do. Letting our lights shine, however, looks like talking about what we love, what we like, what we stand for, and what we are doing or excited to do.
What does it look like to let your light shine? Spend a few minutes, with a pen and paper in hand, and answer the following questions:
What do I love?
(Identify people, activities, or causes)
What do I like?
(Keep it simple or shoot for the stars. For example, do you like latte’s or iced tea? What was your childhood dream? Honor your own unique “likes”.)
What do I stand for?
(What values drive you? For example, “honesty”, “love”, “commitment”, and other good characteristics that benefit you and the world around you.)
What do I enjoying doing?
(Hint: When you do these things you lose track of time because you are having such a great time!)
What am I excited to do?
(What are you looking forward to doing tomorrow, next week, next year? Allow yourself to dream.)
Okay, now do you think you are an amazing person? I hope so…at least a little more! As I close this blog, chew on the powerful quote below by Marianne Williamson. We live in an amazing world, a grand creation. And God created you, in His very own image. There is no one else like you. As my friends from OneBody3, Jennifer Browne and Jennifer Webster say, “You were made on purpose, for a purpose.”
Let your light shine!
You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
- Marianne Williamson
Your life is a gift to you. Don’t judge it. Embrace it. Unwrap it. Value it.