Shining Light

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16

One of my fondest childhood memories was singing, "This Little Light of Mine" in children's Bible school. My grandmother would take me to church with her every week and I would quietly enter the classroom where the other children were gathered. I was that child who never spoke and was always sitting next to the teacher for security (some things have changed, some things have not!) We heard stories and did crafts, I'm sure, but for some reason that memory is the strongest. I remember clasping my little plastic "candle" and all of us practicing the song together before performing in front of the congregation. I also remember wondering what a "bushel" was but was way to shy to ask! After children's Bible school was over, my grandmother came for me and we went to church service together. She always made sure she had paper and a pencil for me and I'd draw pictures while listening to the sermon. After the sermons, my favorite part of the entire experience was shaking Pastor Bachelor's hand as we left the sanctuary. He was always very complimentary when I presented my artwork for his inspection and took the time to bend down to my level, shake my hand warmly, and study my drawings regardless of the line of people waiting behind us. His wife and daughter would make a fuss over me and sometimes would come to our house to visit if we were absent on a Sabbeth. As I look back with a "mother's eye," several things occur to me which explain much of my desire to express myself creatively through art. I was rewarded for my "work" and received kind words and approval from those to whom I looked up and admired. The same man who spoke to everyone from the front of the church also knew MY name and took the time to talk to ME. That he didn't seem to be offended that I "doodled" instead of paying full attention during his sermons is a fact that actually escaped me until now!

So, one might say that I was practicing my "Spiritual Gift" of creative communication from a very early age. I was considered an "artist" throughout school and enjoyed spending many quiet hours drawing or writing in my journal. Ironically, self-consciensness and fear of criticism of my artistic talent had me ignoring my high school art teacher's recommendation to assemble a porfolio with which to apply to an art school. Instead, I chose a "safer" route and majored in business administration. I actually found that I was skilled in that area and enjoyed the planning and organizational details. I found a sense of fulfillment in forming and maintaining "order." I was that student who sat in the front of the class, color-coded and categorized her notebook according to course, typed her handwritten notes from lectures as well casset-tape recorded clases for later transcription. When classmates groaned at the mere mention of "essay test" and "minimum words," I delighted at the opportunity to "paint a picture" with words and had no trouble meeting the required document length! Again, my work was rewarded with approval from professors, an associate's degree and even a partial scholarship to a private university. I still had a love for the visual arts, but once again, fear prevented me from majoring in art. I chose what I considered a "compromise" and majored in communication. After all, my written work was well received, came naturally and was almost as rewarding to me as drawing, but without the deep-rooted fear of rejection associated with something so raw as my expression through drawing. During my pursuit of a bachelor's degree, I learned how to "put on my public face" to deal with my discomfort with public speaking since that was a major requirement for that degree. I can honestly say that I did well in the courses, but still yearned to experience that "special place" I knew came from the quiet hours spent simply drawing.

Fast forward to career... Upon graduation, I began "real work" (meaning not the part-time work throughout college). I was fortunate to be given an opportunity to work for a commercial real estate management and leasing company in a newly established position. This meant that I basically was able to create my own job description as a client coordinator and use both my administration skills and my communication skills, with a splash of creativity through design thrown in for good measure! My boss was a wonderful Christian man who recognized my potential, even when I shared with him my doubts. He valued and rewarded my dedication and loyalty. I was that employee who stayed late to complete projects and took pride in meeting or exceeding expectations. When my boss eventually moved on to another company, he invited me to come with him to remain his assistant and help him build his career in the commercial real estate development field. My choice to not take him up on his flattering offer was extremely difficult, but I deeply felt another calling. I had recently married my college sweetheart and his career required substantial travel each week, giving us only weekends to be together. We decided to move to Tallahassee where his work was taking him and begin building our family. My ability to be a stay-at-home mother has enabled me to grow in immeasurable ways and I will be forever grateful for the years of "on the job" training my children have provided. I am that mom who puts love notes in lunch boxes, enrolls her children in baby sign language, art, dance and music classes, attends school functions, coordinates play dates and encourages spirituality and creativity (still working on maintaining order!). I am constantly rewarded when I look in my childrens' eyes and know that they are my greatest gifts from God.

The variety of volunteer opportunities my church provides combined with it's assorted selections of classes and small groups give me that much needed creative outlet. I feel safe and valued in a judgement-free atmosphere which is oftentimes hard to find in today's world. I've learned when to step out of my "comfort zone" as well as to form and respect my "boundaries" so that step is a positive experience. Most importantly, I am growing in my relationship with my Holy Father, through whom I know all of my blessings flow. It is through Him that I have been given the courage to finally return to my art and let my little light shine.

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