Shine On: 6 Ways to refresh your spirit & someone else’s

I’d like you to shine on. Here are 6 ways to refresh your spirit and someone else’s. Because we all feel like we’re disappearing into the darkness. We need each other.

the darker the night, the more brightly you shine.

Last night, I experienced a rare gathering of support, camaraderie, power, and blessing among women leaders from area churches. We called the event SHINE, because nobody feels like a light after 2020, even though we all want to be. Shining last year meant getting hate mail and judgment and social media slams.

Most of us have dimmed our lights a bit since then. Taken a lower profile. Maybe even stopped leading.

But with a few likeminded ladies, we formed SHINE, a gathering of women in ministry leadership for support, friendship, and refreshment (of soul and sweet tooth). We’re not more spiritual or special than anybody else. We’re just tired of dimming our lights.

After 14 months of personal hurt and professional upheaval, we are all tired. All a little discouraged, wary, and maybe disillusioned. We feel wounded by the people we’ve served and trusted. We’re worried about our families and our ministries.

We came together in a spirit of healing, friendship, and encouragement. And we didn’t even know each other.

You see, shining happens under duress.

In darkness. Otherwise, you just blend in with everything around you. You have to decide to shine. You find a place that’s dark, and you illuminate it–or better yet–you let God illuminate the area through you. You take a huge risk and you just light yourself on fire.

But it’s easier if you can find a group that’s willing to shine with you. Someplace you belong because you’ve all committed to similar methods of madness and purpose.

Belonging is an act of vulnerability and faith.

If we don’t belong somewhere safe, we lose ourselves, and our lights go out. We get sucked into the vortex of fear, propaganda, hate, and conspiracy. Without soul-safety, we suspect everyone who is different and succumb to the loudest voice in the room. We will choose to belong to that—the impersonal machine of self-preservation and fundamentalist thinking. We will decide to be in charge instead of lighting the path toward the One who is in charge.

All of us at the gathering have felt beaten up by 2020. We’ve all been hurt by the people we serve. We are at the ends of ourselves, dangling in hopes that God will sweep through in his heavenly airplane and catch us and whisk us away to some pleasant tropical paradise where no one hurts anyone else and nobody has to go to work when they feel unable to do so.

Whenever people feel beaten up by life, they either mend, or they hurt someone else. The easy unwind is to lash out at “the establishment” (i.e. government, school, work, family, or church)—after all, that’s not a person. It’s a thing. So we argue for it.

We want something (or someone) to blame so our pain makes sense.

And pain never makes sense. That’s why we need to meet, gather, and listen. That’s why we must question and confirm instead of slander and assume. That’s why “loving your brother” and “turning the other cheek” are straight-up hard to do. These Jesus-commands mean that most of us were not living in true Christian purpose during 2020. Which is why we didn’t feel safe anywhere. We didn’t belong to anything anymore.

I invite you and encourage you to find a place of belonging. Find people who will help you fill up so you can start shining again. Incorporate these 6 methods for shining, wherever you are and whoever you’re with.

Here are 6 ways to start shining brighter:

  1. Ask how someone is and where he/she’s been struggling.
  2. Listen to another person’s story, especially someone who has a different background, ethnicity, church, and stage of life.
  3. Find agreement with others. Affirm the hard things and speak encouragement.
  4. Share who you are and what you’ve gone through. (Sometimes, you have to go first—just warning you.)
  5. Recount a blessing you’ve experienced through your trials; identify what you’re learning.
  6. Pray for one another. (If others don’t pray, you still can. Everyone likes being prayed for.)
  7. Remember your purpose. You were made to love God and love people. Two simple things.

Shine on.

How are you changing the universe right now?

If you’re a woman in ministry in the metro-Richmond area, and you’re interested in joining SHINE, click here to go to our landing page or email me at sueschlesman@weag.org.

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