In Kindergarten, before the first day of school, the educator team meets with the parents of new students for an intake meeting. We talk about our expectations and welcome them to school. Parents are encouraged to ask questions and share important information that would help us get to know their child.
At one such interview a couple of years ago, a parent asked many questions, but her final one was, “Can I take a picture of your nails?” Odd, but I did have each nail painted in two colors of shellac with black markings to look like crayons. They were cute. My back-to-school nails. I agreed, of course, not even wondering who she would show the photo to. Maybe her husband, her girlfriends, her nail artist.
The next morning, my educator partner sent me a screenshot of a tweet that featured my nails. “Just met my kid’s Kindergarten teacher for the first time. She wins at nails.” And there they were in five different Crayola colors. Tweeted to 15.5K of her followers. I had no idea that she was the host of a CBC radio morning show in our nation’s capital. And, just like that, my fingers were famous.
When we sent her child home with a banged-up face the day before Photo Day (he fell on his own face), all of Ottawa heard about that too. Thank goodness, she still hadn’t said my name. But it made me a little nervous that if I slipped up, or she even perceived that I slipped up, she had a large radio, Twitter, Instagram… audience that might hear about it.
That might be an extreme example, but we can easily end up in social media without even knowing it’s happening. If you haven’t already told Facebook you’d like to approve any photo you’re tagged in before it’s posted on your Timeline, do it. A photo does not always reflect what you’d like it to. It can speak a thousand words, sure, but they’re not necessarily the thousand you’d like to send to your friends, your mom, and your third-grade Sunday School teacher.
It wasn’t that many years ago that the Internet was a concept; an idea; but the regular human didn’t know how they could use it; FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp… all words that no one had assigned to things yet. In fact, I used my first real computer in my last year of high school. I programmed a race car to drive across the screen. (I’m sure my Adam-and-Eve-code was just the beginning of the Gran Turismo games so popular today – I’m still waiting for my share of the royalties…)
This computer/technology age in which we now live has made the world shrink. Children have the opportunity to get to know and spend time with their grandparents, even when they live across the country from each other. We can stay connected with extended family all over the world without paying a long-distance phone bill. You can find the love of your life without ever leaving your chair, and even see what he looks like too (assuming he’s honest enough to post a current photo of himself rather than someone he wishes he looked like)! Those now working from home, in our pandemic world, hold face-to-face meetings without ever leaving their houses. It is mind-boggling what advanced technology has done to our world.
While it’s made the planet smaller, in the sense that we can reach out and contact people around the world with ease, it’s made our audience bigger in our life-performance. A friend of a friend of a cousin knows about details of my life, whether I want them to or not. That’s a bit of pressure on the stage. The venue just changed from the school auditorium to the stage of the Rungrado May Stadium in North Korea, the largest football stadium in the world. Gulp. Talk about stage fright.
Before you freak out at this thought, remember the underlying point of Val’s Stage is the idea of living for the audience of One, and not worrying about all those other dudes and dudettes in the stands. But it doesn’t hurt to remember they are there. As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous— not even one.” (Romans 3:10). This gives me an out when I mess up. Kind of. But God is the only one likely to give me grace and mercy. The others in the audience are more likely to judge me and talk about me behind my back. Just saying.
In the Fall, when strangers meet me and admire my crayon nails, they often identify me as a school teacher without me first revealing this fact. Who else would walk around 24 hours a day with such childishly decorative fingernails? As I reflect on Val’s Stage today, I wonder what things about me tell strangers that I am a child of God? What clues do people see? My audience of One sees my heart and knows my desires, but all those other people in the auditorium: what do they see? The tattoo of the cross on my wrist is not enough. I pray that my life: my attitudes, my kindness, my love for others reflect God’s glory. Not specifically for those strangers I meet, but to make my Father proud.
“But give reverent honor in your hearts to the Anointed One and treat him as the holy Master of your lives. And if anyone asks about the hope living within you, always be ready to explain your faith with gentleness and respect. Maintain a clean conscience, so that those who slander you for living a pure life in Christ will have to lie about you and will be ashamed because of their slander. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if it is in God’s plan, than for doing evil.”1 Peter 3:15-17 TPT
The Light of the World is Jesus. He is the Truth. He is the answer to everything. Our “confident hope.” When we allow Him to rule our hearts, His light will shine through us – that Jesus-glow will advertise to the world that we are His, like wearing a neon sign around our necks. Do you remember the Sunday School song?
“Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, shine, shine. Let it shine!“
Let’s hold our candles high.