One of the biggest mistakes I have ever made was waiting.  I was a professional waiter.  I’m not really sure what I was waiting for exactly…maybe permission, maybe opportunity, perhaps maturity or getting back into my skinny jeans or success or wealth, but I waited just the same.  I felt unqualified to lead because I didn’t have every piece of every single thing figured out.  I felt unqualified to shine because how dare I – and besides, I didn’t have enough accolades to shine.  I felt unqualified to share my faith because I was a major work in progress.  I mean major.  (Still am.)  I was afraid of everything.  I was afraid of what people thought.  I was afraid of failing.  I was afraid of succeeding.  Most of all I was afraid to completely surrender to God because I was selfish and unwilling to relent control.   Then life hit me square in the face and I woke up.  I realized that all the waiting around until I became a non-existent perfect version of myself wasn’t what I was called to do.  I was called to activate and shine.

Activate.  Verb.  To make something (or someone) active or operative.
Shine. Verb. To give out a bright light.

“You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5: 14-16

So what does it look like to activate and shine in real life?  In my life it looks like this:

Surrender
I am a recovering control freak with a Masters in discontent.  Nothing was ever good enough.  I wanted to be the best.  I wanted to be liked by all.  I wanted perfection and it left me depleted.  Friends, if you are trying so hard to fill yourself up with more more more (be it material things, attention, substances, food, TV, whatever) the only cure (according to Alison, and God) is God.  I was a Christian for nearly 20 years before I truly surrendered to God and dang, I really wish that I would have trusted Him enough to burn my own life agenda and just follow what He had planned for me from the start.  I wasted so much time seeking after things that I thought would fill me up and make me happy only to find that God-shaped hole that is in all of us is insatiable unless it is filled with Him.  Surrendering has left me free and able to experience true joy.

Believe That You Are Qualified
No matter who you are or what your past (or present) looks like, you matter; your story matters. Period.  Just because some are on stage and some are sitting in the audience does not make the person in the audience less qualified or less important.  I have sat in the audience, I have been on the sidelines and I remember thinking, One day, when I’m successful like her and speaking all over the country I’m going to really let my light shine!  Then the time came when I was on stage speaking all over the country and I didn’t really shine at all.  I hid.  I was afraid of others discovering that I wasn’t as put together and perfect as everyone thought I was. The truth is, I didn’t feel extremely qualified and I kept waiting for some proverbial green light to give me the cue that I was.  That doesn’t happen.  You have to make a decision that who you are and what you’ve experienced, good and bad, is all the qualification you need.  God will equip you.  He will give you words when you’re out.  He will give you courage when you’re low.  He will provide you with opportunities to further His plans.  All you need to do is willingly participate and believe that you matter.  Whether you have an audience of 1 or 100 or 1000.  Right now, wherever you are, you matter and you have the ability to lead, serve, inspire, encourage and love people every single day.

Activate and Shine!
You know how children sing their hearts out at the top of their lungs without a trace of embarrassment….speak the truth even when it’s not super PC…confidently share their dreams and talents in a very “like duh” way?  We should be more like that!  We should use the gifts and skills that God has embedded within us to shine for Him.  We need to actually.  The world is hurting and broken. Negativity abounds.  Lets stop waiting for some big platform or grand recognition and start shining daily.  RIGHT NOW.  SHINE NOW.  Don’t wait unit you have that degree or that job or that accomplishment.  Don’t put it off until you are brave, popular, all put-together in size two designer jeans.  If we all stopped waiting to surrender until we’re good enough, waiting to shine until we’re accepted by most, waiting to serve until we have more time so much would actually get accomplished for His Glory.

No more waiting.  Activate and Shine.