One Word 2021: What Does it Mean to Shine Your Light?

by | #TellHisStory, Christian Living, Encouragement, Faith, Life

This past Christmas, my husband surprised me with an extravagant gift—a Canon EOS Rebel T7. While professional photographers may consider this a beginner camera, it’s a major upgrade for someone who is used to using her iPhone to take photos.

Even though my husband and youngest son are photography buffs, I’m a novice—I had to Google and find out what DSLR meant. Since I want to use this device to the best of my ability, I signed up for a few online camera courses to go along with the three books my husband bought me for Christmas.

One of my first lessons talked about exposure.

When you take a photo, the computer inside your camera measures how much light is falling on the subject you are photographing. Then it allows the right amount of light through the lens so you end up with an image that is exposed correctly.

Photographers can program their cameras for the right amount of light to enter through the lens. That helps them to avoid overexposure or underexposure.

What’s the big deal about light, anyway?

Light is something that makes vision possible. Not just physical vision with your eyes, but also spiritual vision with your heart and soul.

For the past twelve years, I’ve chosen One Word as a point of focus throughout the year. Each word has challenged me in many ways. But by having a specific word focus, I’ve grown and matured in my faith. Also, the words build upon each other year after year.

One Word Through the Years


2010–New Beginnings











And for 2021, my One Word is Light.

This Little Light of Mine

When I was a child, my grandma was my Sunday school teacher, and she taught us This Little Light of Mine. Because of that memory, it’s always been a favorite.

As I considered my One Word for 2021, two other words came to mind, and at those times, I thought they were the ones I needed to choose. However, as I filled out my Brilliant Writing Planner for 2021, I wrote Light as my One Word. Then I read my devotional for that day, and the verse spoke to my heart, affirming this word choice:

Before you can shine, you need light, right?

I don’t think anyone will argue about how challenging 2020 had been. Despite the disappointments, upsets, and setbacks, we did have many blessings. However, after such a dark year, we need more Light.

From a photographer’s viewpoint, not enough light will leave your photo underexposed and too much light will leave it overexposed.

In the darkness, shining a light helps to showcase an image worth viewing over and over.

So what does it mean to shine your light?

In my last post in December 2020, Who Lights Your Candle, I asked that same question—who lights your candle? Who continues to encourage you, to offer the hope we all need?

When we keep our eyes fixed on the Light of the World, then we always have hope.

When we keep our eyes fixed on the Light of the World, then we always have hope. One Word 2021: What Does it Mean to Shine Your Light? #tellhisstory #shineyourlight #oneword Click To Tweet

Finding Light in the Darkness

During one of the darkest days of my life—the day we buried my dad—I had gone to bed weighed down with grief and discouragement. I wrestled with many emotions that I wanted to pack away in little boxes because they were too painful and too draining to explore, but I couldn’t. I was too overcome by the darkness of my grief. In the shadows of the night, I lay with my face in my pillow muffling my sobs. As I rolled over and opened my eyes, the most beautiful moon shone through our window and cast a silvery glow over my bed.

My breath caught, stunned by the serenity of that hot July evening.

It was at that moment that I knew God heard the cries of my heart. He sent that moon as a visual reminder of the necessity of light in the darkness.

It was such a clear contrast that cut through the darkness. There was no mistaking what it was. No room for argument.

Each person who lets their light shine may do so in different ways. For me, I want to let my light shine through value-based living. I value faith, family, friendships, health, and sharing my story—the one I’m living and the ones I write.

Like that silvery moon that cut through the darkness of my grief, light brightens a room. Walk through your house at midnight and flip the switch. Light takes a shadowy room from a bit daunting to illuminating. There’s hope. Things don’t appear as scary.

John 8:12 tells us, When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Photo credit: Mitchell Jordan

No matter what we are going through in our lives, He is with us. If you can’t feel His presence, or if you feel like He’s so far out of reach, then take some time to consider your direction. Have you moved away from Him? I promise you—He hasn’t gone anywhere.

Being the light means sharing the God-infused joy of your heart. It means loving unconditionally. It means showing kindness without expecting anything in return. It means letting your light shine even when it’s hard—when someone cuts you off in traffic, when you hear gossip about you or someone you love, or even when someone attacks you on social media.

I read the following Dwight L. Moody quote recently:

As you go through your days, your weeks, your year, think about what it means to shine your light. Will you live in an underexposed world with not enough light? Or an overexposed world with too much artificial light? Or will you walk in the Light of the Lord so people can see God’s reflection illuminating through your words and actions without being told?

As you go through 2021, will you walk in the Light of the Lord so people can see God’s reflection illuminating through your words and actions without being told? #tellhisstory #shinehislight #encouragingothers Click To Tweet

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