Let Your Light Shine
‘Be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons’. What does this saying mean to you?
I recently had the pleasure of debating the meaning of this in vogue saying amongst a group of friends. Whilst ‘standing out from the crowd’ won the popular vote, other interesting interpretations included:
- doing your best to be the most exotic version of yourself (define exotic as you wish!);
- facts (well, facts according to Wikipedia) about flamingos being very social birds (vs pigeons being more solitary in nature);
- an argument about how in today’s society we overvalue appearance and undervalue skills (yes, even the war contributions of homing pigeons entered the debate!); and
- most entertainingly, an above-the-line vs below-the-line personality types theory. [translation: above-the-line people are colourful, positive, solutions-focused ‘flamingos’ and below-the-line people are grey, negative, problem-focused ‘pigeons’!]
Interestingly the etymology of the word flamingo is Spanish, literally translated as ‘flame-coloured’, borrowing from the Latin word flamma, meaning ‘a flame’.
Hence, be a flamingo = be a flame.
The flame analogy resonates with me as it reminds me of a bible passage from the Gospel of Matthew, specifically Matthew 5: 14–16.
14 You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 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. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
These verses belong to a series of teachings on how to live a Christian life. Here Jesus is is saying if you are a follower of Christ you have a light in you (because Christ is in you) AND you have an obligation to set aflame that light, show people who you are, and to use your uniqueness as a guiding light for others.
It is at this point I openly acknowledge I am not an expert in theological studies. The motivation for this post is to share a passage of inspired text that resonates with me (intellectually and spiritually). I believe we all have a unique flame inside of each of us and, regardless of faith, we have a responsibility to let that light shine if we are to live life to its fullest.
However, like many things in life, shining bright is, at times, easier said than done.
I have moments where I feel dull (pigeon grey kinda dull), moments where I don’t feel worthy of being the light on a hill, and moments where I would happily hide my flame under a bowl (or hide anywhere I don’t have to face myself or anyone else for that matter). But it is in these moments that I am reminded of the need to access my inner flamingo!
For me, the saying, ‘be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons’, serves as a reminder to ‘let your light shine’.
Every time I see the image of a pink flamingo I challenge myself to check-in on how brightly my flame is burning. I consider my most colourful and unique personality traits. I try to use my character strengths at work and in play. And I give thanks for my God-given talents.
Being a flamingo takes practice. I’ll be honest, I often need a soundtrack for inspiration (think ‘Diamonds’ by Rihanna or ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry). But, at the end of the day, I simply do my best to share my flame with loved ones (and strangers equally) in the hope that seeing my light encourages them to avoid hanging out amongst the pigeons.
Be a flamingo. Let your light shine.