Today, I just want to encourage you to let your light shine. I don’t care where you are or who you are with at the time. If you have a light (the Spirit of God within you), don’t dim your light just to be liked by someone else, or out of fear of repercussion from someone else, or for ANY reason whatsoever. This is the main point that I want to make here, and, if you would like to hear my story in its entirety, feel free to keep reading.
I am not afraid to share my faith or the fact that I have a personal relationship with Jesus. I can speak about how much He does for me and how grateful I am to Him. I can say the name of Jesus and I am happy that he is my Daddy in Heaven. I can talk about how He healed me. I can talk about how He has brought me back from near suicide. I can and do talk about Him all the time. This is about me, and I always feel free to share that part of me especially if it has to do with ME! He is a big part of my life and my story.
At the same time, I never push my beliefs ‘down the throats’ of others. ‘Around some people’, I can discern that it would be better for me to just let them see the Jesus in me instead of “telling” them about Jesus. Sometimes I feel it’s best to just let my light shine and cause others to want to know what that light is all about. It just can’t help but come out of me because of “Who’s” I am. I am happy to be me, and I love what God is doing in my life. However, there are some people who are “offended” or bothered by people like me.I go to a place of healing 4 times a week to promote healing within myself for all of the trauma that I have been through in my life, (especially the last year and a half). At this healing place, for whatever reason, I have been under “attack” by another person (let’s just call her Sally, and if your name is Sally, please forgive me). This has been going on all morning, 4 days a week, for at least the last 6 weeks – and sometimes multiple times in one morning!
If I had a choice in the matter, I would absolutely not surround myself by people like Sally, whom I believe to be extremely “toxic”. But in this particular situation, I needed to be there for myself, and it was not my choice as to whoever else was at this healing place as well.
The first time I met Sally, her spirit felt very dark to me. I didn’t like it, but I knew that the darkness I was feeling was about her, not about me. I didn’t know what this was about, and I don’t judge, so I just let it be. I just made sure that I sat as far away from Sally as I could at this huge conference table. Every single day, for no apparent reason, I got dirty looks from Sally. I got snide remarks. I got murmurs under her breath, and peppered with questions. I received tons of unsolicited advice, I was invalidated, and I frequently got my boundaries trampled by Sally. Sally was large in stature and extremely opinionated. Honestly, I was quite intimidated by and scared of Sally, and I did not like it.
When Sally (for whatever reason) got upset with me (usually because of something I shared about myself), her eyes literally bulged out of her head like they were drilling a hole through me. Each day I became more and more miserable, and even began to skip sessions because of it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was pretty much being bullied by her. It didn’t seem to matter what I said; Sally was sure to be angry at me.
Sally was new to me. I had not yet figured out what Sally was all about, and again, I don’t judge. My dilemma was that, although it upset me very much, I did not know how to respond to her with love and compassion, in a kind Christian way. I’ll just be honest. I was too busy thinking about how I really just wanted to…..well, let’s just say, I was NOT thinking good thoughts about Sally. At all. I was having trouble standing up for myself while I was feeling hurt and sniped at by her.
I’m still dealing with trauma, grief, anxiety, and PTSD. I am vulnerable – some days more than others. This made it even more difficult for me to deal with this situation.
As I “privately” worked through my issues with Sally, I became stronger, and I learned how to set boundaries with folks like Sally. Even still, when I was about ready to stand up to Sally, those scary eyeballs came out, and I’d go right back into my shell. I was getting SO tired of being too fearful of standing up to her. I would ask myself, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just tell her to stop! This hurts!”
Here’s the thing. Pain is good sometimes because “pain” can be a GREAT motivator. Day in and day out, I just became more and more motivated to conquer this beast of a problem, which was, not letting Sally keep me from letting my light shine. But, I just didn’t feel strong enough quite yet.
I kept practicing learning about boundaries, setting boundaries (first with safe people), and just letting other people be who they are without making it about me.
I’d tell myself, “Today is the day. Today, you are going to speak your truth no matter WHAT Sally says or thinks about it. “You CAN do this.” I kept praying, practicing (on safe people), and learning.
Then one day, Sally completely invalidated me one last time, and I had just HAD IT. I opened my mouth, and a boundary came out! I spoke my truth and there was nothing Sally could do about it. She looked down fuming. If smoke had a color, I likely would have been able to see it coming out of her ears. My palms were sweating like nobody’s business. My knees were knocking together. My thoughts were racing. And then…..nothing. Nothing bad happened. I was ok! I survived! I set a boundary and I didn’t die.
In fact, something very very good happened. I had now learned how to stand up and not shy away. My light was shining again! “SUCCESS! I stated my boundaries! I put it out there! I did it! This is awesome!” “NOW Sally will have a whole new respect for me!” I was SO happy with myself and all the hard work I had done.
As it turns out, just because you set a boundary, it doesn’t mean that people will respect them. Little did I know the real TEST was coming. Sally continued to push my boundaries over and over and over. AND she seemed to take pleasure in doing it! I mean she would literally smile when she delivered the next blow!
But you know what, I got better and better and better at taking care of myself. Sally had now become (of all things) my teacher. I was shocked that I was now actually very grateful for Sally. I was grateful because as hurtful as Sally’s behavior was, it caused me to dig deep – real deep. I had it in me all the while, I just didn’t know it. God was letting me learn a lesson that would serve me well for the rest of my life. So, never shy away from a challenge because God has your back. He just might be trying to teach you something.
Not long after having several “successful moments” with Sally, I started getting this feeling that I should stop talking about God in my life. What was this about? No one ever told me that it was a problem in this particular forum, but I just felt it in the room. It was palpable. You see, my spirit (the Jesus in me) was picking up on the darkness, and that is why I was feeling a little uneasy about including Jesus in my story. Again, fear had reared it’s ugly head.
Soon thereafter, Sally demanded that her “need” from “the group” (me) was to “stop telling stories!” As you can imagine, internally, I was in a tailspin. What did she just say? Oh no she di-int! This time, I stayed the course and told my “stories” anyway. That was part of the process. We were ALL there to tell our story. It was obvious that Sally did NOT like this one bit. She pitched all kinds of fits and went into the most passive aggressive behavior I had ever seen. I stayed the course.
I guess Sally finally had enough and announced to the group that she was not comfortable with “people” (me) using the word “God”. She said, “I feel bullied! I am the minority in this group and in the world! I feel like an outcast! This isn’t right, and it should NOT be allowed in this group!” Sally burst out with, “I’m an atheist! I don’t like having God shoved down my throat! I don’t believe in God. For me, there IS no God! I don’t have a God! I don’t know why I should have to sit here and listen to all of this talk about God!” (Really there was not that much talk about God). Keep in mind that Sally was constantly suicidal and without hope, (her words) miserable on a daily basis (her words). She said over and over, “I have no reason to live.” Then she found out that she had an abdominal aneurysm (her third), and was now afraid to die!
I told Sally that I didn’t judge her for being an atheist. I told her that even if a door knob was her higher power, I still would not judge her. I told her my story about having practiced Catholicism, then practicing nothing, then making God a woman because it wasn’t safe for me to think of Him as a man (past issues). I told her that I even tried to become a Buddhist at one point, simply looking for serenity in my life. I explained to her that for me, God knew that I would eventually find him, and Jesus is my God in my life now. I told Sally that I didn’t want to be judged for my beliefs anymore than she did for hers. FINALLY Sally backed off. Finally.
Today was Sally’s last day in the group. I wished her well and told her to just keep doing what she’s doing toward her healing (practicing what we have learned). She looked at me and said, “Cydnee you are the funniest person I know, and your girls are really missing out on something special.” Then she smiled at me. I thanked her so much and, I promise you, I almost cried. I then made a quick exit because I was so overwhelmed with the goodness of God, I was afraid the “ugly cry” might be coming and I was ready to go!
If you ever find yourself in a situation similar to mine, I encourage you to use it to practice becoming stronger, learn how to set boundaries for yourself, and work toward becoming strong at “being a light in a dark place”. You never know what God can do when you plant a seed – even the tiniest tiniest seed. Never, never, never be ashamed to let your light shine no matter WHO doesn’t like it. Be kind to others and just let it shine.
Stay the course, pray, listen, then act in a way that is pleasing to God.
God has your back and He loves seeing you try your best.
Let your light shine!