"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
September 18, 2012
This Little Light of Mine
by Vickey Pahnke Taylor

I grew up listening to old gospel standard hymns like “This Little Light of Mine (I’m Gonna Let It Shine).” I love those songs; they make me smile. And, even as a small child, they pushed me to learn what those lyrics meant.

I guess it’s why I love lighthouses. It’s my own mind’s eye version of being “the light of the world,” as Christ said in his Sermon on the Mount:

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good words, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt5:14-16)

I think of the lighthouse, just hanging out and giving light. Shining in the darkness, as a beacon of help to those looking in their direction. Somewhere along the way, after my conversion to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I figured I’d try to be a lighthouse, of sorts.

Some days, the power plug gets pulled. Some days, it seems I need a new light bulb. But the concept of shining whatever light I have turns out to be one that, ultimately, helps me more than anyone. It’s brought me joy, a strengthened relationship with the Savior, new friends, and connections with people who have very shiny lighthouses in themselves!

It’s a simple, yet profound principle.  The words in Doctrine and Covenants 115:5 teach it this way:

“Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations.”

These are profound words. Among the principles we’re each striving to better understand and live, this one is quite doable. There’s plenty of darkness in the world, along with plenty of grievances, petty issues, ugly conflicts, and heavy burdens. Most of us may not have the opportunity to be a standard for a nation. But we can do so for our home; for our school; our work; the gas station attendant; a stranger who looks in need of an uplift.

We can pick our venue for the day, so to speak, and remember some good advice that came from none other than Arlo Guthrie:  “You can't have a light without a dark to stick it in.”

Good words! Each one of us is equipped to shine in our own unique way, standing for truth and goodness wherever we find ourselves.  There are plenty of dark spots in which we can shine.

Saying something kind to a cashier? In an elevator? I love chatting in that confined space, with the goal of bringing at least one or two smiles.  People with perfectly good conversational skills seem to forget how talking works when those elevator doors close. So, my newer venture has been to start talking as soon as I step in. Some folks ignore me. But some smile and join in a quick but fun exchange.

It seems a silly little thing. But when all is said and done, isn’t it all the little things that really matter?

Most days, regardless of circumstance, we can be a lighthouse — and shine, even when we don’t feel so shiny.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the Savior smiles when we lighten the way for another person, and when we lighten up, ourselves. When that happens, we all benefit a great deal. That’s good! And goodness matters.

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About Vickey Pahnke Taylor

Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, grandmother, teacher, author, and songwriter. Her undergraduate study at BYU was musical theater. She has a Masters degree in interpersonal communications.

A Billboard award-winning songwriter with hundreds of songs to her credit, she uses music as a teaching tool. But her favorite way to use music has been to sing to her children. You should hear the family's rousing versions of "Happy Birthday"!

In addition to three solo albums in the LDS market, she co-wrote "Women at the Well" with Kenneth Cope and "My Beloved Christ: with Randy Kartchner. She is co-writer of the theme song for Utah's Make-A-Wish foundation, the song for the Special Olympics program, and EFY's theme song.

She writes for several online magazines and columns, and has authored several books. Her website, www.goodnessmatters.com, is her way of continuing to grow goodness in the world, pointing people gently toward Christ and eternal principles of truth.

She has spoken for the Church's various Youth and Family programs for 25 years. She and her husband Dean have eight children and four grandchildren. She adores being a wife, mom and grandmother. She loves flowers, brownies, cooking Italian and Southern foods, the ocean, and laughing every chance she gets.

Vickey was baptized a member of the Church as a teenager in Virginia. She serves as gospel doctrine teacher in her ward, and Dean serves on their stake high council.

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