I’m different, and I know why


By Jessica Brodie It was early on Thursday morning and I needed to get some gas, so I pulled off at a little roadside gas station and walked inside.

Near the counter, I saw three people standing around—a younger man and two women, presumably who worked there, looking at me with knowing smiles on their faces. I didn't know what they were talking about, but the way they looked at me made it clear they were discussing me. So I smiled, paid for my gas, and said thanks and goodbye.

But as I put my hand on the door, the guy spoke up.

“You must be a schoolteacher,” he said.

I paused and shrugged. “Nope.”

They looked surprised.

I figured it out. Between my sunny yellow dress and my cheery, friendly nature, they had me pegged—I just had to be one of those super-nice, always happy, always encouraging elementary school teachers… the kind from the movies, the kind that teach at my kids’ school, who have that sweet, loving presence that makes you feel truly supported, like everything in the whole wide world will always be A-OK.

See, it's not the first time someone has tried to figure out exactly what it is that makes me look “different” somehow. The guesses vary, but it all comes down to the same kind of thing: I have an extra-bright smile. I look "happy." I have a certain light in my eyes.

The thing is: I know exactly what it is that makes me look different. I have the light of Christ within me! And I'm letting it shine.

We all have that light. For those of us who are Christians, it is perhaps a little more visible, though not always. But that light is sometimes filtered a bit by our daily circumstances, like our personal stresses, or all the work and responsibilities that occupy every second of every single day. Like the fear of others that we have learned along the way, from racial tensions to distrust for foreigners, from distrust of someone who dresses or smells a little “off” or someone who looks like “they just don't come from around here.” Sometimes it’s our grudges, or our shame over past or current sins that filters the light.

We cannot allow that to happen. As Jesus-followers, we need to let that light shine. After all, it's not really our light, even. It is the light of Christ. It is the Holy Spirit. And it's trying really, really, really hard to get through and change the world and spread that Good News to all.

I like to think of myself as a conduit. I do have a daily struggle to push aside the clutter and try to live in the basic, simple, beautiful kindness that is the pure light of Christ. It is not always something I succeed at doing. But I know I look different from others because I allow that light to shine. I’ve made a choice to embrace it, and I actively take steps to let it.

And the more I let that light shine, the more people are drawn to it! They want in on that special secret. They may not know it, but they want Christ, too. They want the Holy Spirit, too.

Embrace your Christ-light, my sweet friends. It’s a glorious thing.

Jessica Brodie is a Christian author, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach.