Wednesday, February 17, 2016

let it all shine

Months ago, while chatting with the one in my life with whom I share my greatest desires, biggest excitements, largest failures, and unfortunately, ugliest attitudes, the subject of the future came up and with it the past as well, because more often than not conversations with one always need to involve the other.  Let me pause here to say, if you have a person, any person, in your life who will ask you what your dream is and listen while you ramble on about its ins and outs you are a lucky one indeed.  If you have a person, any person, who will not only listen but speak truth directly into that dream that simultaneously encourages and challenges than you have been given a blessed gift. Treasure it.

That night ambitions towards sharing, towards writing it down were verbalized.  Fantasies of feeling confident enough in sharing our story and not only how God has radically changed my life, my heart, but how He continually does so because it is continually needed, so very needed, were said out loud. I feel very strongly that the creator of the universe was asking me to say a big fat yes to letting down my guard and being transparent for Him.  I don't remember the complete response given from the mouth of the man who has vowed to be with me forever, but I remember one small sentence of loving advice that has been saved in black and white since that evening rooting itself into my heart and head and trying to make its way through and into each letter placed upon every page, "If you want to be transparent you have to do it when it's not pretty too."

Children raised in church or attending a summer VBS with a friend or even in the gypsy village fields of Romania know a familiar to most of us song about having a light and not hiding it under a bushel.  Oh no, friend let that light shine!  As you get older you hear the words to that childlike song in the verses of Matthew 5:14-16 when you read about "being a light on a hill that cannot be hidden (vs 14)" and "not lighting a lamp and putting it under a basket (vs 15) and "shining your light before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify God. (vs 16)"  It's easy and quite tempting to read those words and decide on your own that only the good stuff can be shared, best foot forward, spit spot, off you go, and so on.

If you've ever interviewed for a job of any kind some well meaning person will make sure to tell you that you can only make one first impression.  You have also probably been told, as I was, that in that interview when you are inevitably asked to name 3 or more of your negative qualities make sure they are actually good qualities in disguise.  When speaking to the wonderful people who became my principal and instructional lead teacher I laced my negatives with words the required positives describing how it was hard for me to disconnect myself from my students, I just cared too much.  While that was technically true the actual thing I wanted to confess was I have no idea how to deal with the parents of my students, I'm not a parent (wasn't at the time) and all the students in my previous experience (Auburn City Schools) were pretty much perfect.  Had I just spit that out instead and asked for help in that specific area I would have avoided a lot of anxiety and a few missteps.

I like making good impressions, I appreciate not falling on my face for all the world to see, I feel accomplished when people think I have it all together, I relish the allusion that I have control.  Anybody feel me?  But behind that, poking and prodding my heart, is the knowledge that I'm hiding just as much light when I'm trying on my own to just shine all the pretty.  Speaking right to the heart of my attempts are more words that are simultaneously encouraging and challenging.  "Am I now trying to win approval of human beings, or of God?  Or am I trying to please people?  If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10)"

Our desires to be "good" southerners, to be "good" Christians, to tow the line, to not air our dirty laundry, to never step right or left but only go straight, to be model moms or dads or teachers or decorators or drivers or advice givers or whatever fills in the blank for you, hides part of the light we have been given through the life God has led and will lead us through. "There's no going back, and there's no hiding the information.  So let everyone have it." ~Andrew Kantor

When God uses all things for good (Rom. 8:28) that does not mean only the parts you have shined up and put on a shelf to show off.  It means all the things, the ones you want to hide, the ones you haven't been able to hide, and the ones that haven't happened yet but most assuredly will seeing that we are all sinful people walking on earth.  The good, the bad, and the ugly are redeemed for Him, are there to shine in the midst of the darkness for the good of you, the good of another, and the Glory of our Creator.

"The story of redemption and healing is that Jesus came to exchange my not-good-enough with his better-than-I-could-ever-imagine.  He came to trade my life for His, my weak for His strong, my ashes for His beauty.  He longs for each of us to receive the gift of Himself."  Emily P. Freeman, Grace for the Good Girl.  And what better way to do that than shining all of you and showing that you know your best are rags in His eyes but you also are proof that your worst is beauty for Him as well for in them He works and redeems and shows that you are loved more than you can ever imagine and the eyes around you will know that they are as well.

In the pretechnology era of church-going when transparency was not just a sharing of your whole self but an actual clear sheet reflecting words on a wall, this girl took her Sunday turns uncovering the next lines that let those in a building know the words to sing next.  Like the loving nudge I would get when my mind wandered, here is my nudge for you.  Try transparency and let your dirt shine.

Pray for me, I'll be praying for you.

more encouraging words at #tellhisstory


  1. You awe me. Don't even know if that's correct English but you do. Your writing is real. You can feel that. And so incredibly beautiful too. 💙

    1. Danielle, thank you so much for this much needed encouragement. They are words that met my heart at the perfect time.