This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
I remember being about 5 years old and singing this song in Sunday school at the top of my lungs. I can still picture the room in the basement of the Orrville Christian and Missionary Alliance Church where I attended Sunday School. I remember the little chairs and the tables. I remember the upright piano in the front right corner of the room. I remember the motions to the song. I’m gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Jumping forward to third grade or fourth grade, I remember singing the song “One Little Candle.” My Dad played the piano to accompany me. “If we all said a prayer that the world would be free, a wonderful dawn of a new day, we’d see and if everyone lit just one little candle, what a bright world this would be.”
For years and years I have been troubled by mucky feelings about myself. I’m too fat, too slow, too messy, too simple. Yet, when people meet me, it’s not uncommon at all for them to tell me that they are drawn to my light.
I spend a lot of time hiding my light. I’m afraid of what “this group” or “that group” will think. I worry far too much about the good opinions of other people instead of letting my light shine. Don’t’ like it? Don’t read it. Don’t like the gift? Pass it on.
This summer I found a sign that attracted me in a thrift shop in Breckenridge where I was shopping with friends. Several of those friends took the time to point the sign out to me. Somehow, they knew that I would love it. Although I didn’t end up buying it because I didn’t want to tote it around town and back home, I snapped a picture of it. It said, simply, “Scatter Joy.” I have adopted that simple message as my personal motto.
“There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us.”
I’m learning, bit by bit, to uncover my light and to share it. I make things (mostly crocheted scarves, hats, or blanket) to share with people who I feel could use a dose of friendship. I receive the most amazing little thank you notes. While I cannot see my light in the mirror, I see it reflected in each of you, and for that I am weeping with joy as I write this.
Someone important to me told me this summer how broken he believes me to be. I’ve spent a lot of emotional energy in the five months believing him. I saw myself through his eyes instead of the eyes of the people who choose to see the good in me. I would wish for that time and energy back, but I’ve learned an important lesson.
I listened this week to a podcast in which the presented gave a message which I am paraphrasing here. She said something that I internalized as, “there will people who will not like your authentic self. They will not respond to your light. They will not accept you as you are. Those are not your people. They are not your tribe.”
That resonates with me because I am being the best person that I know how to be. I am in contact with God as I know him. I am trying my best to treat people as I wish to be treated.
I have been struggling with anxiety and depression since that dark day last summer. I convinced myself that I was that broken, horrible person.
In the past weeks I have done little things for people. I will scatter joy, and I will spread kindness. I will send comfort and I will wear purple or electric blue to the office when the spirit moves it.
“Hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna let it shine.”
I’m not broken – I’m just cracked, and dear one, that’s how the light gets in. (Apologies to Leonard Cohen, may he rest in peace).
Oh dear Betty…your beautiful letter brought tears to my eyes. You know me, I’m broken. While you spent so much energy on something another person said to you…..I understand….because I have spent so much energy beating up on myself over things someone else has done to me. It made me a different person. It made me make choices that are far from what I would ever consider doing. Things that have cost me dearly. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to forgive myself?
You are an amazing person. I understand why people are drawn to your light. You have such a kind heart. Your post makes me have hope. I hope you realize how much of a blessing that is to me. Thank you.