Every year when the Spring Valley UMC youth would travel to Appalachia to spend a week working alongside people from Michigan, or Indiana, or Illinois to repair homes, we would volunteer to lead the morning devotional one day. And we always used the same idea: Light of the World from the musical, Godspell. If you haven’t heard it before, the chorus goes like this:
So let your light so shine before men
Let your light so shine
So that they might know some kindness again
We all need help to feel fine
(Let’s have some wine!)
The show is based on the book of Matthew, and the basic idea of this song is that WE are the Light of the World, and it is OUR job to show people the love of God, the peace of Jesus, and to not be hypocritical about it. We used this song for a couple of reasons: 1) It’s upbeat, and a great way to get people’s energy up for a long day of construction work. 2) It’s a reminder of what our job was that week: to be loving and kind.
I’d like to expand on that idea, and say that we all have a Light inside of us. And that Light may look different for each of us. We ALL have the ability to make a difference in the world by simply being unafraid to be who we truly are.
When I was backstage at IRT Theater last week, I found the following quote pinned to the wall:
Take a minute, and let these words sink in. You are brilliant. You are gorgeous. You are talented. You are fabulous. And how dare you keep those gifts to yourself? When you share yourself with the people around you, by being willing to explore your talents and your power, you open yourself to the ability to fully recognize your potential. And the more fulfilled you are, the happier you will be, and the better the world will be, BECAUSE you decided to shine as brightly as you could.
Several weeks ago, I had the enormous pleasure of catching up with an old friend who happened to be in the city. This friend is also an actress, and she told me that my decision to come to New York and pursue my dreams gave her the confidence to do the same thing. She is already working on plans to make the big move in the next few years. I wish her all the best, and know she’ll do great things! It was so encouraging to me to know that I had inspired someone else, simply by living my life to its fullest extent. And I just think about all the times I’ve thought to myself, ‘Am I really cut out for this? Is Acting what I’m really meant to be doing with my life?’; if I had answered those questions with, ‘No, this isn’t for me. I’m clearly supposed to choose some other career path,’ and left it at that, I never would have been able to meet the people I have, had the experiences I’ve had, and encouraged the friends I have. I have another actress friend who pursued her own dreams of having a career and a family simultaneously. Watching her do it gives me the confidence to know that when I’m ready, I also can balance my career and a growing family. And if she had not let HER light shine, I would still be wondering if I would have to choose. (Disclaimer: I’m not now, nor will I soon be, pregnant. Relax, people.)
It’s an idea that has been floating around for a long time: let your light shine. We find it in Scripture, in musicals, in self-help books, in seminars and professional development, and in the encouragement we give to and receive from others. But it can be a terrifying thing to actually do. To make the decision to completely give yourself over to the dreams you have for yourself, and believe that everything will work out for the best is one of the hardest things you will ever do, with the very biggest reward.