Welcome to Make A Difference Mondays, a place to get intentional about starting our weeks focused on the positive and put our heads together to dream up ways we can make a difference in this world!  You may notice you have found this blog today with a new and different look, navigation, and content.  Yep, this is what’s been keeping me so busy lately – thank you for your grace as we get settled in a new home.  

All that to say, I’m so glad you have found your way here today!  It’s my privilege to introduce you to a dear friend and member of the Make A Difference Mondays community, Chantelle Swayne, Blogger at Happy Healthy Holy Home.  Read on for a beautiful guest post from her this Monday and be sure to link up your posts below if you’re a blogger!

brave and shine

Have you ever found yourself in a situation that seemed hopeless? One in which everyone around seemed like they didn’t care and would never listen to what you had to say? Sometimes it is hard to see the light when all around you seems to be dark. However, there is always hope. Let me tell you about an experience I had a while back that made me realize that there is never any place too dark to shine in!

A few years back I was going through my fitness course and getting ready to launch my personal training career. Needless to say, fitness doesn’t always attract the most savory of characters. I found myself sitting at lunch on the first day of my course with a group of students and trying not to listen to the garbage they were spewing out of their mouths, when one of them started passing around a photo on their phone. I caught a glimpse and it made me sick, and I flatly refused to look at any more.

Horrified, I went into the classroom, hoping to find some respite from the unsavory conversation—only to find that the teacher was encouraging such crude behavior! That’s Australian schools for you, ha. I have to admit that at this point everything seemed pretty hopeless. I was beginning to think, “Is it even possible to make any kind of a difference here?!”

I had to find a way to make a difference without compromising. I am a firm believer in the fact that it becomes terribly difficult to keep your own light shining when you are constantly allowing yourself to be surrounded by darkness. God understands that about us, which is why He warns us, “do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33)!

So what did I do? Sometimes I did have to separate myself because I knew there was noway I was changing the course of the conversation I was a part of. Sure, I may have seemed a bit strange at times, but sometimes that is necessary. Christians are, after all, to be “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Put all those descriptions of a Christian together and it spells different! Christians are called to be different—as different as dark from light. Sometimes that means that we will seem a bit strange, but hey—that’s okay! We are told to expect that, so don’t be concerned when it happens (cf. 1 Peter 4:3, 4).

Also, whenever I had the opportunity I tried to insert what I believed into the conversation. If they asked me why I didn’t want to see the things they were showing, I told them why. You can tell people what you believe without being a Bible-basher (as some Australians call Christians)—simply give the wisdom that comes from the Bible in a non-judgmental way. I would say things like “I don’t look at these things because I don’t need to see anyone naked but my husband,” or “I don’t need to hear about your sex life, I am only interested in my own” (seriously, they were very free with their speech!). Honestly, when you are open and honest and without compromise, people will see you have conviction and respect you—though it is true that they may reject you. But hey—rejection is okay too. Didn’t they also reject Jesus? Yes, and He promised that if people hate us, it is because we are being like Him (John 15:18).

And so what happened? I was afraid that people would see me as strange and not want to have anything to do with me, but the truth is that they respected me! They didn’t try to show me the pictures anymore, and refrained from telling dirty jokes around me. The guys didn’t try to fool around with me and touch me like they did the other girls—they knew I wasn’t easy like that and I would hold to my standards. Though I am sure they thought I was peculiar, I managed to gain a certain level of respect among them.

Not only was I able to gain the respect that caused people not to say things to me, but it also allowed lines of communication to be opened up. One student saw I was different and became interested in talking to me about the Bible, and we had many meaningful conversations as a result. Another student who was going through some difficulties in her life came to me for some practical advice. I doubt she would have gone to the other students for advice, as they hadn’t shown themselves capable of being serious for long enough.

I wholeheartedly believe that those students would have never came and opened up to me if I simply blended in. You never know what a difference you can make when you are brave enough to shine!

Please do not get me wrong, I am not trying to sing my own praises in all of this—it was not easy for me, and I am constantly pushing myself out of my comfort zone! I simply want to encourage you in following me to be more like The Light— the One we come to by listening to the truth and doing what He says (cf. John 3:20-21; 1 John 1:6, 7; Psalm 43:3; et. al.)

So how can you get the kind of light that shines out? Here are some practical suggestions:

Immerse yourself in the Word—You cannot give people something you don’t have—and you won’t have any light to shine if you don’t first let the light into yourself! Shining your light is equated to “holding forth the word of life” (Philippians 2:15, 16). Think about it honestly, how can we turn people to the light if we are not filling ourselves with it first (Acts 26:18)? Put aside some time to meditate upon God’s word every day (Psalm 1:1-3) and take every opportunity to learn.

Withdraw yourself when necessary—Sorry to break the bad news to you, but you are not big enough or strong enough. Sorry, you are not. You may think you are, but Paul wrote by inspiration that we should not be deceived in this area (1 Corinthians 15:33)! We cannot think that we can hang around worldly people and not be influenced—unless we want to argue against the apostle Paul and the Lord. I fact, we should have very little in common with those whose focus is on the world (2 Corinthians 6:14). Choose godly people as your counsellors, role models and closest friends. Remember that even though Jesus spent time helping the publicans and sinners, His closest and dearest friends were those who would become His apostles.

Have the courage to be consistent—Practice what you preach, and preach what you practice. If we try and hide our lights, our light will be snuffed out. We have one of two choices—we can either shine our light out, or lose it. When a candle is placed under a basket, its flame will go out—but when a light is truly shining others will have no choice but to see it (Matthew 5:14-16). Sometimes something has to be said. Be ready to say it with boldness when the time comes (cf. 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:15).

Pray for wisdom—The Lord promises that if we pray for wisdom, He will give it to us (James 1:5). I can’t claim to know how exactly He does this—but if He promises that He will, I certainly trust that promise! If we are studying as we should and praying for wisdom, I truly believe that God will keep His end of the bargain and give us the understanding and application we need so much.

Pray for opportunity—Paul asked the Colossians to pray for him and his companions, specifically requesting that they pray “that God would open unto [him] a door of utterance” to preach the gospel (Colossians 4:3). When you start praying for opportunities to speak, something amazing happens—God provides the opportunity for you to speak out, and we become more aware of those opportunities that we would otherwise be missing. Praying to God for anything helps us to set our focus on whatever it is we ask for, and causes us to be able to take hold of opportunities.

Remember that people need you—Ok, this may seem a little boastful, but bear with me. People need Christianity. “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God…by faith that is in me.” was Paul’s mission statement, and it should be ours (cf. Acts 26:18). Though people don’t always know it or accept it, the fact is that you can give them what they really want in life—if you are holding up God’s word in your life (Philippians 2:15-16). My husband said the following quote in a lesson once, and I loved it:

light shine

I am just one little light trying to be more like The Light and shine in the little corner she was placed in. Will you join me?

Put the light in, then be brave and shine out. You never know what doors you will open up!

{If you have any questions as to how you can get the light, you can contact me via my site’s “Ask me a Question” page.}

Question: What are some ways you have made a difference in an area where you previously thought it to be impossible?

Make A Difference Mondays is a weekly linkup designed to encourage and inspire us to live each day on purpose—making a meaningful difference in someone’s life in even the smallest of ways. There will be five women regularly co-hosting this link-up that will appear on all five of our blogs and we also have three wonderful co-hosts who will fill in as guest hosts on the occasional day that a regular co-host is not able to post. Read on to learn more about our vision, mission, and how to link up!
Our mission is to provide a consistent gathering place for like-minded women to build online connections, share inspiration, and provide mutual encouragement and accountability as we seek to live intentionally and make a difference in the lives of those around us.
Every Monday we will invite bloggers to link-up any blog posts that encourage women to live life on purpose. This could include testimonies or goals from your own life, small acts of kindness or service, creative tips or ideas for showing consideration to others — the possibilities are endless. Our objective is to use our God-given time and resources to His glory!
The Make A Difference Mondays team has created two ways to keep us all connected – now we have our own facebook community group to stay in touch beyond the blog posts AND we also have a new #MADMlinkup group Pinterest board! We will be pinning our favorite posts from the linkup that inspire and encourage us to make a difference. We are so grateful for you and would love for all of you to join us for fellowship in the above linked community group and you can follow the Pinterest board right here to watch for your posts: Make A Difference Mondays Pinterest Board
Be sure to grab the sparkly linkup graphic or grab the same image in the square version from the sidebar for your posts and/or include a link back here within your posts. Any on-topic posts are welcomed, no matter how old and no matter how many! If you’re linking up a post here, would you be so kind as to reach out in the comments below? I love getting to know new people and it really helps to put a ‘name to the face’ and find you in the linkup :) Maybe even mention the title of your post in your comment? Thanks friend!
Add your link here:
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Sometimes sharing with these friends and holleygerth.com