"In the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good deeds and glory your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16. "Let your light shine so brightly that others can see their way out of the dark." Katrina Mayer.
We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won't need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don't fire cannons to call attention to the shining--they just shine." Dwight L. Moody. "Even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry..." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Recently, I have been searching YouTube, and I have come across a very influential and inspirational motivational speaker, Lisa Nichols. I was very intrigued by her "rags to riches" story. She went from welfare to multimillionaire. Her journey inspired me. She shared that she found herself "broke and broken." Essentially, she had hit rock bottom; a single mother on public assistance with her young son's father incarcerated. She determined that her son did not deserve this, and she made a choice to change the trajectory of her life. (Look her up; you will be glad you did).
My thing these days is self-reflection. I am a part of a book club, and we are reading bestsellers. We recently read "Finding Me: A Memoir" by Viola Davis. Her story will make you cry and grateful for your blessings. Through it all, she did not give up. She not only made it, she is triumphant; having found herself in the journey. (Get the book).
What I have discovered from Lisa Nichols and Viola Davis, is that we all have different paths and a myriad of circumstances that present in our lives. Something/someone in the circumstances will make us move; bring about a reaction. The direction that we move in is our choice; it is up to us how we deal with what we are facing. Growing up, I was not allowed to go anywhere except to the library. Books are in the library, so I read books. My favorite authors were Richard Wright and James Baldwin, followed by Maya Angelou. Their stories intrigued me. While I did grow up in an era when the country was in the heat of racial strife, I was kind of sheltered from the full effects of it.
I was born and raised in Harlem. We lived in the St. Nicholas Projects. Some might say, "poor thing," given the reputation of the projects. But, the truth is my family unit was intact; God-fearing, hardworking mother and father who loved their eight children. Yes, we were financially poor (like everyone around us), but we were rich in spirit, in community, and in the love we had for one another. We were not defined by what others thought of us; we thought highly of ourselves. My parents taught us to love God; the need to get an education, to be honest and to have integrity; be a person of your word. I look back now and see the light that was present in my life. We were never taught to hate, neither were we told we could not make it because of someone holding us back.
The closest my father came to telling us that someone could hold us back was when he said, "get it in your head, and that way they can't take it from you." He was referring to getting an education. He never said who "they" were and I did not ask. I did get an education. I digress. The authors that I read did not express hate. They simply stated the facts of their lives and what they did to change them through education, hard work and perseverance. I am not quite sure why I read black authors (maybe the librarian suggested it, maybe my teachers suggested it; it was long ago). I am glad I did. I saw the light that shined through in spite of their circumstances. I understood clearly that their freedoms were being trampled on, and they transcended the indignities and injustices to lead others to higher ground. I came away believing that I could too. After all, I had not experienced anything remotely as awful as they had.
Richard Wright reminded me of myself. He saw (experienced) the awful things happening to blacks around him, and he just could not comprehend why. Neither could I. The difference is that I saw these awful things on TV when the news came on. I was not privy to non-stop news like today. But, at times I would catch images of water hoses or hydrants being sprayed on black people or dogs being turned on black people. In my head, I knew this was not right. But, I was too young or too naïve to understand hatred. I had never been taught that. I did not see it in my home or in my community. In fact, we (the Harlem community) were all family looking out for one another. All I could do was (like Right Wright) wonder "why would people do this to other people?" We did not see ourselves as different. I certainly did not.
These authors put me on a trajectory to be the best I could be in spite of whatever was happening in society or in my life in general. They were confirmation that my father was right. I could still succeed. They had. Perhaps that is the connection that I see today between myself, the best selling authors and the motivational speaker Lisa Nichols. Our circumstances were different, but we responded in almost the same way. The light on the inside could not be extinguished, propelling us to keep moving onward and upward. "Nothing can dim the light that shines from within." Maya Angelou.
An observation that I made was, it seemed that the more dire the obstacles and/or the circumstances, the more effort/work it took to overcome. From my limited vantage point, it appeared the outcomes were also greater. I'm just saying.
Anyway, in my deep reflections, I believe that God has a plan for my life as He has for everyone else's (Jeremiah 29:11). However, in my spirit I feel that I have yet to maximize this plan. "And He also who had the two talents came forward, saying 'Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.' His master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master." Matthew 25:22-23. In other words, I feel that there is more to do on my part to honor God by being of greater service.
My grandmother (Evangelist Mary Jackman), told me so many years ago that God has something for me to do. In her usual cryptic manner, she did not tell me what. In a way, this was better because it keeps me humble and keeps me seeking God's will for my life. It goes without saying that I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, and He is the light that shines within. Along life's journey, I did get an education (three advanced degrees) and have tried to be of help and to encourage others to live their best/blessed life in accordance with what God has designed for them. There still remains a need in me to use all the gifts/talents that God has given me to better serve and to enrich the lives of others.
I have prayed about this longing, and have often inquired of those in ministry with me and friends in my life what they think of what my grandmother said; her declaration. Their collective response, although not in the exact same words was: "You are already doing it; you are letting your light shine." Wow, this is eye opening! But, I think to myself (here I go overthinking), it cannot be that simple. But, maybe that is what it is. Light shuts out the darkness. Isn't that what God wants us to do? "God is light and in Him there is no darkness." 1 John 1:5. The world could use more light.
"We all impact others whether we're aware of it or not. The degree varies according to each individual's sphere of influence and opportunities, but all of us impact other people's lives for good or bad..." Just as salt is made useless by impurities, so light becomes ineffective if it doesn't shine brightly." Dr. Charles Stanley. "You are the light of the world." Matthew 5:14. The power of our impact is determined by the integrity of our lives.
Something on the inside drives me to keep striving and seeking. I address this by praying. I do not want to sound spooky, but I believe that God has laid it on my heart that what I was seeking "was already in my hands." Whoa! Another riddle? Maybe not. Maybe just my refusal to accept the obvious. Instead of remaining perplexed, I decided to give this some serious thought to find a resolution; at least in my mind. "In my hands?" Okay. What could this mean? I consulted the dictionary (so as to gain more clarity). Dictionary definition for "in your hands": 1. You are responsible for it. 2. Under your control.
I understand this to mean that God has given me what I need to accomplish what He wants me to accomplish. I must keep the faith to keep moving, and accept that He will continue to direct my path to where He wants me to be. There is no mystery to what God requires. "Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:36-40. These are the two greatest commandments. If we keep them, we are in alignment with God's will for us. Yes, this is in my hands. Love is an action word; by preparing myself to be in a position of greater productivity, I can more effectively show the love of God to others and find fulfillment in the process. What makes me feel complete? Helping others. God is letting me know that "it is already in my hands" to do this. I am equipped because of the light on the inside and my mission to radiate it to the world. It may sound like I should already know this, but it became clearer, and I am moving forward with this deeper understanding.
"Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5:15. WHERE IS YOUR LAMP? IS IT LIT?
1. What is in your hands? "Your work is to discover who you are and then with all your heart give your light to the world." Jennifer Williamson. Start by evaluating what gifts, talents, skills, etc., you have. Find ways to help others not so fortunate. Find the joy in what you are doing and share it with others in tangible ways. We all have something to give. I am not talking about money, but if that is what you have to give, okay. But, make sure you express the love in the giving.
2. Be an example of wholeness; share your story/testimony. What I valued most from the inspirational people that I read about or listened to was their ability to share their story "warts and all." Their struggle was real and it was hard, but they overcame. It gave me hope and a determination to move forward in my life; because in their brokenness they did not stop until they had achieved wholeness. I saw wholeness as doable. If you are not whole yet, share the progression. People appreciate realness. Your willingness to express vulnerability is freeing and others are blessed as a result. "Let your light shine. Be a source of strength and courage. Share your wisdom. Radiate love." Wilfred Peterson
3. Know where you are headed and do not let anyone deter you. "Do not allow others to diminish your light due to their own fears and insecurities. Instead, let your light shine so brightly, that you will illuminate a pathway for others to find their way out of darkness." Dr. Stacey A. Maxwell. There will always be people who believe you are not capable of great things and in some cases they do not believe you can do anything. That does not matter. It is what you believe is possible and what you know God can make possible. "Watch the company you keep." Evangelist M. Jackman. When you find yourself in the company of such people, exit them from your life. Or, at least, keep them at arm's length. Pray for them and keep moving. As the old folks (I am now one of the old folks) used to sing, "Don't let nobody turn you 'round." Someone needs the light.
4. "Give thanks in all things." I Thessalonians 5:18. Remember, we cannot do this in our own strength. God is with us and He helps us. So, give honor and praise where honor and praise are due. Also, give back to the service of God. In addition to time and talent, I do mean money; give to support the ministries at your place of worship. It takes money to keep the lights on and to feed the hungry, etc. Give what God has blessed you to give. This, too, is in keeping with His will. You will also be blessed.
5. Be the brightest light. Perhaps, this is what you have been called to in a time like this. You may not be able to impact the whole world, but you sure can have a powerful effect on your corner of it. Always seek to be and to give your best. Show up when you are supposed to and be a blessing. "Ours is the responsibility to keep our lights bright for others to see and follow." Thomas S. Monson
Let your light shine. Our world is in need of more people who are willing to let their light shine. You now have the key, for goodness sakes, "shut up and drive." I like that song. Seriously, get moving, get shining right now; the world is in want of much illumination. There is much to be done to make this world a better place for everyone. You can make a difference. Show you care by sharing your light wherever you go. Shine on! Shine brightly! Someone needs the way to that marvelous light!!! You have what you need, GET GOING!!! SHINE! SHINE! SHINE!
God bless you.
Thank you always for your continued support and kind feedback. You can comment at: email@example.com