Shining Our Light: How and why do we do it?

Niagara Falls Illumination

Shining Our Light for Others Without Fear!

Most of us have heard the expression that, we need to shine our light to the world, but what does that mean exactly?

I had an interesting – illuminating experience lately that demonstrated to me what this expression means and how beautiful of a blessing it can be for the object – person, situation or the entire world – on which we are shining our light, but also what gets reflected back to us in doing so.

During the holidays of this year, I was asked to go to Niagara Falls – in fact, I was supposed to go there for New Year’s Eve to finally witness the grand illumination of the falls which I have heard about many times, but have never seen in person.  It isn’t an invitation a girl turns down lightly!

In fact, turning down things – listening to my own G.P.S. – God Positioning System – isn’t something I have a lot of practice in.  I generally live my life with the belief that we must suck the marrow out of life and go in the direction of our dreams (Henry David Thoreau), no matter what.  At times, this belief has led me to travel and meet extraordinary people and see marvelous things.  At other times, this impetuous nature, as my mother likes to call it – I like to call it spontaneity – has led me down paths that perhaps were not the easiest or the most pleasant to be on; and in God’s grace, he’s had to recalculate me back to a better one!

In this particular instance, being invited to see Niagara Falls on New Year’s Eve, I listened to my G.P.S. and declined the offer.  I knew that going down that path – even though the physical destination was going to be amazing – the journey to and from it, would not.  In other words, the person I was going to go with was someone who my G.P.S. had been telling me was not the right path to be heading down.

I declined and instantly felt the disappointment of it and as the season progressed, I repeated to myself that perhaps I should have gone; that I should have walked through that door when it opened.  However, at some point, I realized that by going over it in my mind, I was stuck in the past – of what could have been and I was stealing any joy from the present every time I thought of it.  So, I surrendered it up to God and told him, one day I’d like to see the illuminated waterfalls.

What we don’t often realize is what is taking place behind the scenes in our lives and if we did, I’m sure we’d be much more inclined to surrender things and let God put them into place for us.  What I didn’t know was that my close friends were not only moving to Niagara Falls, but that I would receive another invitation shortly after the holidays that would forever illuminate my life!

My friends, a lovely couple that I’ve known for over five years now, were eagerly awaiting my visit to see their new place and have dinner with them, but because of circumstances in  my life, I hadn’t had the time to go – nor did I really want to do the drive alone, to be honest.

However, after they asked me several times, I decided that it was time to simply make the commitment and go.  It was a Saturday evening that I planned to drive there and early in the afternoon, just before I was about to leave, I got a phone call that one of my favourite and closest aunts had passed away suddenly.  I was very sad, upset and of course, began to think that I should just stay home and tell my friends that it was too much to come and visit.

However, I suddenly remembered that another friend of mine had told me that she had never seen Niagara Falls in the winter time, and I decided to invite her along for the company.  She said she’d love to come and was very excited about seeing the falls.  I told her, however that my friends didn’t live right in the area and we’d probably just be seeing the waterfalls from a distance.

When we arrived for dinner, we shared a lovely meal with my friends and after dinner, my friend Jay, said, “Let’s get you girls in the car.  I want to show you something.”  I couldn’t imagine what, but we obliged him, got our coats on and piled in the car.

As he began to drive towards the falls, I assumed he was just going to drive by them so we could see them.  When he pulled in and up around an old circular stone building and parked, I had no idea what we were doing.  He got out and said, “Follow me girls!”  We followed him to an old steel door and he knocked on it, holding a cup of coffee for someone I assumed was inside.  When we entered, Jay introduced us to an older gentleman who worked in the dilapidated old building.  “Girls, ” Jay said, “how would you like to not only see the lights of Niagara Falls, but actually be able to change the colour of them?”

He led us out another steel door on the other side and instantly, we heard the roar of the falls just metres away.  The first thing I saw were huge, beaming lights – of purple, red, blue and yellow casting their beautiful beams over the parkway towards the illuminated falls.

We entered a tiny galley like room and were shown these contraptions that looked liked computers from the 1980’s era.  There on the screen were buttons, the same colours as the beaming lights and we could choose whatever ones we liked, and then step out into the cold night air and watch as the roaring waterfalls, changed their colour to what we chose for them, right before our eyes.  I cannot express my or my friend’s  excitement at that moment – it was like we were two little girls given a puppy at Christmas.  Our childhood enthusiasm exuded from us as we played with these mammoth, colourful lights.

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As I watched not only the Canadian, but also the American waterfalls change the colours that I chose from a remote computer, I realized some invaluable lessons:

Firstly, I had listened to my G.P.S. – my intuition – a month earlier and surrendered the idea – and hope – of seeing the falls illuminated during the winter season and here I was not only seeing them, but actually controlling their illumination and the experience of it was pure joy.  I realized that whatever it is we think is being taken from us or delayed; God will restore it – bring it to us in His time, better than we could possibly imagine.

Secondly, I learned how important it is to shine our lights out to the world, because we each have our own unique colours to shine for people and when we do this, it also becomes an illuminating experience for us as well.

Thirdly, as I watched the remote stage lights send forth their light; the beams were very visible in the mist of the falls and I became aware that they are made of millions of light particles and lit up the entire night sky as well.  Isn’t this like our light, when we shine it out to the world, it isn’t simply the person we are shining it on, but people around us that also can see and feel it’s brilliance?

Fourthly; many times in my life I have hid my “light under a bushel” {Luke 8:16-18} because I was afraid that I was too much for people.  As the youngest of seven, you get told this a lot as your older siblings do not want to hang out and play ‘Barbies’ with you, despite how exciting you think it might be!  I was also told this by teachers because I asked too many questions; friends, because I thought differently than most kids; and in relationships because they thought my hair was “too big, I wore too much make-up, I was too smart, too pretty, too “out there” or “too” something!

The best thing, my sister Denise ever taught me, after she made a video of my life, accompanied by Cyndi Lauper’s song, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” was that too many people wanted to “hide me away from the rest of the world” and I should just go out and “walk in the sun!”

The truth is, I wanna be the one to walk in the sun!  And I know that God wants this for me as well.  I believe he wants this for all of us!  So go shine your light and don’t dim yourself down for anyone!

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So how do we do this – shining our light thing?

Sometimes it can be as easy as smiling at someone.  I have rarely smiled at someone and not had them smile back, even if all they can muster is a little smirk.  Saying good morning to the people you pass on the walking trail is shining our light.   Let’s be honest, we don’t always feel like doing this, especially if some people do not reciprocate our efforts.  However, I have actually made it my purpose before I go for a walk  that I will say good morning to everyone I see with no expectation of the outcome and it buffers those times when someone isn’t ready or capable of expressing back the same salute.

Another way to shine our light, is if we are having any kind of conversation with a cashier, or someone who is in their work place, ask their name and introduce yourself.  People like to be acknowledged and simply asking their name or repeating it occasionally during a short conversation can make them feel seen.

Obviously, when we volunteer or help a friend or help out in our community, we are shining our light.  However, God’s G.P.S. is not complicated.  He will arrange Divine Appointments if we ask him and this may simply be picking up a loose can of vegetables someone dropped in front of us or opening a door for someone.

Often times, this might lead to a short conversation and who knows this other person might illuminate our day instead.  One thing is for sure, what I have learned from this experience is that God is more than willing to bless us – usually unexpectedly – I believe the Big Guy in the Sky loves surprising us.  Maybe because he knows everything that has, is and will happen and he never gets a surprise; he loves to lavish them on us!  I don’t know.  What I know is that rarely have I ever shone my light and not had His light or some illumination return to my own life.

Don’t be afraid!  Go shine your light on someone today and then wait and see how that light bends back towards you!

"Ours is the responsibility to keep our lights bright for others to follow." --Thomas S. Monson #LDS #Mormon

Cyndi Lauper:  Go Walk in the Sun and Have Fun!

 

 

 

 

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