"Let the gratefulness overflow into blessing all around you. Then, it will be a really good day." Louie Schwartzberg
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Shine as We are Meant to Shine

posted by Susan Dominikovich


Linking up with SheLoves Magazine this month.  The theme is "Mirror"

There is finally a chill in the air now that we are well into autumn here in New Zealand.  A light dusting of snow on the mountain makes me think of winter.  I pull my scarf close around my neck, sip my warm caramel macchiato and I remember.

I remember my winter in the middle of summer, having travelled to Canada to spend Christmas with friends and family there.  I remember wrapping my fingers around an egg nog latte to keep them warm while walking along the Sidney waterfront in B.C., marvelling at how big the seagulls were and how low the sun sat on the horizon even at mid-day. Two months ago. Two seasons ago.  I am back in New Zealand and from winter into summer into autumn. No wonder I am feeling slightly disoriented, the sun still high but beginning to dip low. 

As I sit here with my coffee thinking that I must dig out my woollen sweaters and tan boots soon, I remember that day in December, barely tasting a vanilla latte in Tim Horton’s, Mission B.C. because I was sitting across from Sarah Bessey, whom I had only just met, trying to make the most of the time that I had with her. Having discovered her blog earlier in the year and subsequently her powerful book Jesus Feminist, I frequently found myself saying to anyone who would listen, my husband and my dog in particular, “she gets it.” She gets the grief, the loss, the pain, the anger, the bitterness and rejection. She gets the irony of feeling unsafe in church and how it’s just not supposed to be that way. More than anything, she gets the freedom and redemptive and transforming power of life in Christ. Alive in Christ.

I must have babbled on about Sarah Bessey to more than my husband and my dog because a dear friend (who also gets it) contacted her on my behalf to say, “my friend Susan is a Canadian living in New Zealand who LOVES your work and it just so happens that she is going to be in your neck of the woods in December… would you? Could you?”

She would and she could and she did. There she sat in her black-rimmed glasses and khaki coat. Sarah Bessey waiting to meet me in a crowded Tim Horton’s in a far-away place, drinking coffee with a small box of Timbits on the table in front of her. Eyes shining, heart warm.  Waiting for me.

And I almost didn’t make it. Yes, the drive from Surrey to Mission along the 10 and the trans-Canada highway is torturous even when you don’t account for the Great Canadian Railway and their carriages that are double stacked with containers and murderously slow. Even my train-mad kids grew tired of counting the cars.

But earlier that December day in one of those God-appointed, stuff of dreams moments, I had my turn on the red couch with Idelette McVicker, founder of SheLoves Magazine. The night before I had shown Sarah Bessey’s little yellow book to my friends with whom we were staying in Surrey and Kelley remarked on the poem “Let us be Women who Love” written by Idelette.  She told me that Idelette lives just two minutes away and that their children had been car-pooling to school together. 

Here I was, a woman away from home visiting friends in Surrey, B.C, only two minutes away from Idelette McVicker, the editor and founder of a magazine which had consistently been light to my spirit through a dark year.  I explained to my friends how much I admired her, having recently discovered the on-line magazine and community of writers through Sarah Bessey’s blog.  How the themes Idelette’s editorial team had chosen each month were exactly right every time and so necessary for me, not only to read but also to write about.  I asked my friends if they would pass on an encouraging word to Idelette next time they saw her, so Doug picked up the phone.
It was late and it didn’t matter. 

I talked to Idelette and was able to put a voice to the name and so did she.  And then the next day after church with only twenty minutes to spare before we had to leave Surrey so that I could make my meeting with Sarah Bessey, Kelley and I visited Idelette at her house and we shared and we enthused and we encouraged and we had a photo together on the red couch.  And despite the bizarre wonderfulness of such a thing to happen to this Kiwi-Canadian-teacher-writer-musician (such a thing!), it was the words in a frame that I took away with me.  In her lounge and beautifully framed were the words of a great man who had died not long before, a man mirrored in men and women like Idelette:

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." Nelson Mandela

A friend who loves me had sent me this quote not long before. I had already cried with the truth of Mandela’s words so infrequently practised in the church.  Here they were in front of me in a beautiful frame.

Here they were in front of me, mirrored in Idelette.

Mandela’s words and their outworking in Idelette were still in my heart when I finally met Sarah a couple of hours later.  We met and we shared and we talked. Our spirits connected as Jesus lovers together as we unpacked church, grief, life, her book and new things. And she signed my little yellow book, called me her friend and said that I gave her hope.

I gave her hope but she and Idelette gave me so much more.  They gave me permission to shine.

I admit, as I sat near those women on this God-appointed day, I had stars in my eyes. But at the same time, it was an ordinary meeting of like-minds and kindred hearts. And Sarah said to me that I will one day be able to look at the things that happened that year, the church hurt, the betrayals, the ugly cry and instead of being bitter because of it, that I would be grateful for it.

As my husband drove me away from that meeting-place of hope and affirmation, as I tried to put into words the emotions and understanding I felt, I realised she was right.  I was already grateful. Grateful for all of it. Because if it hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t now know and see so clearly the truth. The truth that my value as a Christian woman doesn’t lie within the four walls of an institutionalised church and what I can or cannot contribute there.

The truth is that my value exists because I am a child of God with gifts and knowledge and discernment and potential for love that He will use as He chooses, for the sake of His kingdom. For the glory of God.

I am also grateful for events that led me to Sarah Bessey, Idelette McVicker, SheLoves Magazine and scores of other bloggers, writers and preachers…all men and women who are “brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous.” Men and women with a voice, reflecting the life of Jesus Christ.  Men and women empowered to use their voice for glory.

God’s glory.

Men and women who understand Nelson Mandela’s edict that “there is nothing enlightened about shrinking.”

Men and women who have taught me to stop shrinking and to find my voice too.
So let us stop playing small.

Let us not shrink for the sake of other people’s insecurities.

Let us be a mirror to each other.  Let us reflect Jesus Christ in our lives as we are going.  Let us shine as we are meant to shine and in doing so, “unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

As Sarah Bessey and Idelette McVicker have done for me.


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