Most anyone who knows me knows how much the words “shine” and “inner light” and “shine your light” means to me. When I saw Dayspring’s new Everlasting Light product line I was so excited and could not wait to shop. I love anything that has stars or “shine” on it.
I love my new Shine Your Light bracelet I received from Dayspring as a promotional gift for sharing about their collection. In addition to multiple pieces of Everlasting Light jewelry there are also gorgeous home decor and gift items you can view here.
I also purchased this 16 x 20 print from the collection. I bought a simple frame for $10 at Walmart and added some glitter to it. I have it hanging above my desk in my office as a reminder as to why I work so hard to let my light shine. It is because that light is really God’s light shining through me in all I do.
Wearing this gorgeous bracelet and reflecting on the words of the new print in my office, made me realize that I have not really every shared the aha moment that changed my life and when I learned how to “let my light shine.”
In the words of Sophia Petrilo – “Picture it, Italy, 2005… Two friends go on a missions trip. One of them was a young, naive, shy girl who had never really experienced what it was like to really live life… Her life was forever changed by what she experienced those two weeks in Italy…”
I was that young, shy girl who had never really been out in the world or out on her own. Yes I had traveled some with friends to other states. I had lived out on my own in an apartment by myself for a few years. I was 24 at the time. It was the furthest and longest I had ever been away from home though.
It was the first time I had ever really been out in the world and free to be myself or given a chance to figure out who I was with no barriers, no past mistakes hanging over my head. I was always so concerned with what other people thought of me that I never really took the time to figure out what I thought about myself or to see what I had to offer to the world. I had been in some pretty bad relationships in the past and was working as an administrative assistant in an office job that I hated. I really had no self confidence or dreams or goals anymore at that time in my life.
This was not a typical church missions trip. It was just my best friend since 7th grade and I who went on this trip. Her father works with a missions group and she wanted to go to Italy and asked me if I would ever considering going a mission trip too. There were missionaries there that needed some extra help for a couple weeks as one of the couples was getting married soon. We had to raise money for the trip by getting sponsors and donations.
Honestly I was more excited about getting to go to Italy than I was about the “missions” part. Go to Italy for 2 weeks, serve God, help people, get other people to donate and pay for your trip, see and experience Italy you say? Well of course I’m in! (Sometimes we do things for the wrong reasons but then it turns out to be the exact thing, time and place you need it to be.)
I fell in love with Italy. The people, the landscape, the history, the art, the culture. And the food, oh my goodness the food. I cannot really even put into words what it felt like. To stand by the church where Paul was imprisoned, to touch the Coliseum, to see Michelangelo’s David, to visit St. Peter’s Basilica, to walk the the streets of Venice, to sit in the church St. Francis of Assisi founded, to stand on the shores of the Adriatic Sea and watch the sunset, to wake up every morning to the sound of church bells and look out on the cobblestone streets of the little old town with rolling hills behind you.
Teaching English to Italian kids, making costumes for their upcoming VBS, staying in stranger’s homes who did not speak English, speaking and sharing my testimony to encourage others, visiting people who you think you have nothing in common with but finding out that you do, eating foods you would never touch back home because you do not want to offend the sweet Italian lady who made it all from scratch just for you, speaking very little Italian and half the time speaking Spanish since you know more of it and a lot of the words are similar and thoroughly confusing everyone around you, being left alone to explore Venice and wondering if your hosts are actually going to come back for you… I could go on and on…
All of those things were beautiful and wonderful but the really amazing thing is that I first began to see myself, Misty Dawn for who I was and what I might could become. I was allowed really for the first time to use my talents and skills for something that really was worthwhile. I actually felt like an adult for the first time in my life. I felt appreciated. I felt like I had something to offer to the world, to God, to other people that I never really thought I had or could offer.
We were definitely out of our comfort zones, well I know I was for sure. We were asked to do things that I never even thought about trying to do. I learned so much about myself. I learned I could do a lot of things I never attempted. I learned that I enjoyed a lot of things I never thought I would have enjoyed. I learned that your past does not have to define your future. I felt sort of like I had been living my life as Pinocchio up until then with someone else pulling the strings. I was a real boy, err girl finally!
I remember the day we had to fly home. We had to get up around 3 or 3:30am to leave for the airport. My friend slept the whole 2 hour ride to the airport. Not me though, I was wide awake and doing all I could to not breakdown. I did not want to get on that plane. I knew as soon as I did it meant I was going back to a life that I did not want to be part of anymore. I was terrified that the person, the joy, the passion, the hope I had experienced in Italy would somehow stay in Italy and not get on the plane with me.
I couldn’t hold back the tears as we boarded our flight home. I missed my family of course and I wanted to see them. I also had not had a hot shower in 3 days and really wanted to see a hot steamy shower too. (We had bathed just in cold water in sinks for the past 3 days. That’s a long, really funny story for another day.)
We left from Rome and had a very short layover in Paris. It was nothing short of God’s plan what happened next I’m sure. When we landed in Paris the sun was just coming up there. I sat on the shuttle bus on the tarmac in Paris and watched the sunrise. As that ball of fire came up in the sky I knew. I knew that no matter what that flame had been ignited and I had to find a way to keep it burning. I could not go back to the person I was before. I could not live in the shadows anymore. Life was too short to not really be living it. I was worth more than the sad little life I was settling for.
It was that “aha” moment. That moment when you know, everything is aligned perfectly in your life, that everything had shifted, that nothing would ever be the same again. I realized on that trip that I had a light inside of me that was just waiting for me to open the doors of my scared, fragile heart and let it out for the world to see.
To make a long story not quite as long, I did go back to my job and my “normal” life after I got home. I was miserable though and just hoping and praying for a way to make a change. Thankfully God brought that change right to my feet. About 11 months later I actually lost my job unexpectedly. I was pushed out the door on a cold October day and absolutely terrified. At the same time it was one of the best days of my life. It was the day that I finally started walking towards the path I was supposed to be on. It was the day I decided to start letting my light shine and to never look back.
Everything changed in Italy for me. That little light inside caught aflame and I knew, no matter how long it took, that I had to let it out and let it shine. I knew I would not be happy or at peace until and unless I learned to let my light shine.
I believe so strongly that God has put a light in each of us that He wants us to shine for His glory, for our happiness and for others to be inspired and encouraged by. I believe that He has given us all unique talents, abilities, experiences and thoughts that we are meant to share so that we can make a difference in the world around us. I feel that it should be our mission to figure out what our light is and to let it shine. When we let our light (God’s light inside of us) shine, we help others be able to shine too.
I have to end this by asking you what your light is? What is your passion, what are your talents, your experiences, your quirks that God has given you to make you uniquely you? Won’t you commit to letting them shine, to letting God shine through you? Make today your day to open the doors of your own scared, fragile heart and let the light burst through. Let your light shine & never hide it from anyone again! I promise you won’t regret it! God can do amazing things through us when we learn how to let our light, His light, shine through us!
I hope my story, just like Dayspring’s Everlasting Light collection, inspires you to let your light, God’s light, shine brightly through you. If you or someone you know needs a special gift or reminder to let their light shine and to trust in God’s light, you can shop online and purchase these items at Dayspring.com