All I’ve known is the limelight. This word originates from a type of stage lighting popular in the 19th century, but it is used metaphorically to refer to the focus of public attention. For many, the limelight is a desired place to be. Starry-eyed hopefuls venture to Hollywood seeking fame and attention, but how does the limelight affect one’s life?
I was born into the limelight. After three sons and multiple miscarriages, a daughter had finally arrived. The golden child with a musical mind was quickly ushered into the limelight. Every family gathering. Every school function. Every talent show. Every church event. Every social circle. Every party. Every sports match. Every. Every. Every. There was no place the limelight didn’t shine on me, including my solitude, because even in the quiet, my mind was busy. It never stopped rehearsing the roles I was to play for everyone else.
The limelight is not a sinful place unless we make it one. It becomes an idol when it’s promoted to first place in our heart. Anything that steals our gaze from Christ, including ourselves, is an idol.
It’s taken me my lifetime to understand this beast called Limelight and the internal war created by its external forces. I will be in this emotional and spiritual fight with Limelight until my final breath, as I ever purpose to keep it from stealing my gaze.
Recently, my father sent me a photo of myself as a little girl singing at the mall at Christmastime. I’ve seen this picture before, but this time I analyzed the audience’s faces. Most look supportive and sweet. Children appear to be in wonder of me. My great aunt and great uncle are expectantly at my feet. No doubt this performance was promoting their Christian school and daycare business. (“No pressure, Amy Jo. You can go play ball when you’re done. And oh, please wear the world’s most hideous skirt too.”)
Standing on the cusp of a new women’s ministry launch, seeing the faces in this photo afresh, I was utterly overwhelmed by Limelight and its powerful presence throughout my life. It has been my constant companion, my friend and my foe, my nemesis, my well of lies, yet my platform for declaring truth. How will I manage it this time?
No one is forcing me to wear ugly skirts anymore. No one is making me pick up the microphone. And yet I feel more desire than ever to hold it. Not because of Limelight’s familiarity, but because of the journey to this point, and the story of truth to tell. May Christ increase as I decrease. May He be exalted as Amy Jo dies to self over and over again. And may Limelight illuminate its true and only Star, Jesus Christ, the preeminent Lord and King. All glory to Him!
Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. Psalm 66:16