World Changers Refuse for their Lights to Be Dimmed!

“Please pull the car over immediately,” I said with some urgency.  I was frantically searching my purse.

The driver pulled into a parking lot.  I hopped out and ran 2 1/2 blocks back to the woman standing on the sidewalk.  She had a sign that said, “Please help with formula and diapers!”  A baby in a car seat sat next to her left foot.

The incident came rushing back to me this week when I received an email in response to my last blog. The email said, “Why do people try to shut me down when I do things that areing?“

As I recalled the incident from my memory, I was in another state.  I had been picked up at the airport to be driven to a conference where I was speaking.  The driver was in a Rolls Royse.  The Chairwoman of the conference was riding shotgun, and there was one other conference speaker in the car with us.

I realized within moments that I was just a country girl amongst some first-class high steppers. (To show you what a country girl I am, I didn’t even realize it was a Rolls Royce. I thought it was a fancy Jeep!)

I had seen the Mom on the corner when we passed her.  However, I had also seen the looks of disdain around me in the car.

That deep longing and yearning to make a difference rose up within me. You know that feeling. You’ve had it happen to you, too!

I knew that the action I was considering would be met with disdain from others in the car.  But I simply could not ignore that deep drive to make a difference.

The car rolled to a stop just as I found the Walmart gift card in my purse.

I told the Mom,  “Your baby is absolutely beautiful!  I can’t do much, and I don’t have any cash.  But I have this $100 Walmart gift card that I want to give to you.”  She burst into tears and fell into my arms. I held her for a bit and said a quick prayer for her before running back to the car.

In the car, the conversation continued as if we had never pulled over.  As the conversation lagged, the Chairwoman made her disapproval clear.  

“You know she’ll likely use that for drugs.“  Her nose was literally in the air.

Was she correct?  Maybe.  But that deep yearning whispered a thought to me: that Mom deserved to be noticed, acknowledged, and loved.  I had acted in the only way I could at the moment.  The gift card was for diapers and formula.  But more important was that I wanted to give her a moment of care, concern, and compassion.  From her response, I knew my action had been successful.

But it almost wasn’t. Because in that car, the unspoken but palpable condemnation of others washed over me.  I nearly allowed someone else to cover my light with a bushel.

Just as the email I received this week indicated, some people may not understand, honor, or even appreciate your world-changing views or actions

When I was a little girl, my grandmother took me to Vacation Bible School every year. Every year they would have us sing this simple but amazing little song: 

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine

“Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!”

They taught us a little hand motion routine to go along with the song: we would hold our index finger up and move it back and forth in rhythm to the little song.  But when it came to the “let it shine!” part, we would throw our arms straight up in the air and wiggle all 10 of our fingers like we were shining bright. 

There were several other verses, but my favorite was this one:

“Hide it under a bushel? NO!

I’m gonna let it shine!

“Hide it under a bushel? NO!

I’m gonna let it shine!

“Hide it under a bushel? NO!

I’m gonna let it shine!

“Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!”

For that part, we would cup the other hand over our index finger and hide it. But then we would jump up, and when we hit the ground, we would throw the cupped hand down so our light could shine bright again.

I loved that! 

Somehow, my little-girl awareness knew the song, and my beloved pantomime, had a deeper meaning at that moment.

In my mind, I often find myself using that little song and the hand motions when I’m faced with challenges.

In that moment, as I sat in the back seat of a Rolls Royce, the battle was raging within me.  On one side was a voice telling me to simply ignore what I just saw.  “Do it another time”, the voice from one camp said.  On the other side, a voice was screaming out: “Hide it? NO!”

Some people are uncomfortable with World-Changing. And that’s OK. But here’s my message to you today: “Don’t ever let anyone put your World Changing under a bushel!“

Now I know that many times, it’s easier to just let it go!  “Don’t get involved, fool!” The voice will say.

We are all prone to worrying about what others might think. We are all prone to want to make sure others are not made uncomfortable by what we do. There is a bit of people-pleasing in all of us, including World Changers.

But don’t let others hide your light! 

I bet you have had moments where you felt the same dilemma I just described. We all do. We all have that inner battle at times.

You may be reading this and think: “I know exactly what you’re talking about, but I’ve deferred so many times and missed so many opportunities — I know I have missed my window.”

NEWSFLASH! It is not too late, my friend.  You have not missed your opportunities.

Another chance will come. Sooner than you think! And I want you to be prepared for the next chance!

There are several truths I want to share with you about your little light. 

Truth #1: Darkness is the absence of light.

And in every opportunity to be a World Changer, there is a person, a family, a group, or a situation, that is dealing with darkness.  The darkness could be a broken heart; it could be the loss of a loved one; it could be financial duress; it could be the loss of a job.

Darkness cannot live in the presence of light. When you have that moment of longing, that deep yearning to make a difference, it’s because deep down, you know that if you step forward, you will be the light in the darkness.

Your light matters.

If you will remember this the next time you have that deep longing, and you put action to that longing, you will be banishing the darkness!  Remind yourself that, “I have this little light, and I can make it shine!” It just might inspire you.  It just might push you off dead center and allow you to step into it!

Truth #2: Even those who may not show approval will admire your act of courage to step out and make a difference.

Oh, they may never tell you of their admiration, but all of us have a place of compassion in us when we see someone else’s light shining.

We don’t do it for the approval of others.  We do it to let our light shine.  To make a difference. To be a World Changer in that moment.

I believe in that spark.  Those who witness that spark believe in you!

Not only are you shining a light into the dark, but you were also sparking action in the hearts of others.  We inspire a cascade of hope and light anytime we step out as a World Changer.

How does it feel when you know that you have created that hope and light? 

I have to confess: this very thing is what keeps me going. It’s what creates ultimate fulfillment when I put my head on the pillow at night.

When you embrace your power to create this hope and light, and tuck it away in your heart, you will not miss future opportunities! Don’t beat yourself up about the past. The past is gone!  Today is a new day! One of my favorite verses in the Bible is, “His Mercies are new every morning!”

We all need new mercies each morning! Apply those mercies to each opportunity.  Gallantly step out, looking for the next chance! A small light; your small little light as a World Changer, makes a huge difference.

Truth #3: Your “little light” is “just right!”

Keep in mind the three little bears.  The porridge of the smallest was “just right!”

Likewise, your little light is just right! 

You are not too young; you are not too old! 

You are not too under-educated; you are not over-educated!

You are not too poor; you are not too rich!

You are not too scared; you are not too confident!

You are not under-equipped; you are not over-equipped!

Don’t allow anyone chasing you with a bushel make you doubt your light.

That deep yearning to make a difference is in you. That yearning is exactly what you need. Nothing more, nothing less.

Your light (what you have to offer) is perfect for your work as a World Changer.

These are the three truths that have given me the courage to step out and let my light shine.  Even when I was afraid; even if I didn’t really understand what I had to offer at the moment; even if it didn’t work out as I had hoped.

I know you have struggled with the choice.  Do I step out?  Remember the three truths; remember that your little light matters.  You will step out. You are a World Changer.

At a time when the world is facing so many challenges: political unrest, racial tensions, a pandemic — your little light is needed more than ever. And your little light is just right as a World Changer!

When the same driver came to return me to the airport, I was the only passenger. 

As we rode along, I thought, “I bet that poor guy is sitting over there trying to figure out how to detour around any people on corners with signs.“

So I just started a conversation.  I asked him about his family and his life. He was the sweetest gentleman, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. When we arrived at the airport, and he was getting my bags for me, I was thanking him while searching my purse for cash. 

When I looked up, he reached out, took my hand with the cash, and lowered it gently to my purse. As my eyes met his, I saw they were brimming with tears. He said to me, “Dr. Neecie, you’ve already given me a great gift.  I’ve been driving for “Miss ________” (I won’t give her name as a privacy courtesy) for many years, and I always wondered why she never offered to help anybody. Deep in me, I wanted to help people, but I was afraid my job was at risk. And you already know I have children that I’m trying to put through college so they can have a better life than I could give them. But the next time I feel that urge inside of me, I’m going to do the exact same thing you did! I didn’t sleep that night I saw you do that. I’ll never miss a moment again! Thank you!“

It wasn’t “proper,” but I gave him a great big hug. And I said to him: “You’re a World Changer! Always let your light shine!”

If I were sitting with you today, I would listen to your stories with respect and compassion, whether your stories were proud recollections of your successes as a World Changer, or your sad memories of missed chances.

But in the end, I would lean toward you, look you in the eye and remind you: “You’re a World Changer! Always let your light shine!”