“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do…” – Marianne Williamson
I heard this quote for the first time about a year ago and wasn’t quite sure what I thought about it…or even if I fully agreed with it. It wasn’t until recently that a friend shared it with me again and because of the season I was in, the truth of it struck me. We’re all frightened out of our minds of discovering our full potential. We’re too afraid of fighting for truth and justice for fear of what others will think, we’re too afraid of being vulnerable for fear of rejection and we’re too afraid of showing our strengths for fear of being thought weak….even though most often, at our core, we know we are able. The majority of our fears are learned through human experience. Though they are completely self-focused they have little to do with who we actually are. As a teacher who spends six days a week working with children I’m realizing, more than ever, the extent to which we would do well to learn from the example of children. They have absolutely no inhibitions and are convinced of their limitless potential…They dream, they see, they act, they imagine, they fall and get back up again, they take risks and they don’t care what others think about them. It’s not until they are old enough to be self-aware and begin to realize others are watching and judging that they become fearful and stop dreaming and taking risks. Children are convinced of their greatness and dream of growing up and living a dream bigger than themselves. As adults, because of past pain or rejection it’s easy to assume impossibility in every seemingly unrealistic dream and eventually convince ourselves of that. What I’m realizing however is that there’s a place for being realistic and practical but practicality should never kill possibility.
I sit in this coffee shop, tea in hand in Torrance, California and think of all of the things I want to accomplish with my life during my short time here…All of the things, even recently, that God has laid on my heart to do/be. I dream of going into the darkest places and freeing women who are caught in bondage in the sex-trade. I dream of taking my writing, songwriting, and music across the world and being a voice for those whose voices aren’t being heard. I dream of continuing on in my new venture of starting a magazine that is a positive and empowering voice for women. I dream of being a wife and a mother. I dream of living a life of impact. There is something inside of me that screams, “Do It! Take a risk! Allow My truth to be your validation!” And there’s a very real other part of me that replies, “BUT God, I am comfortable not moving forward, not taking any risks, not stepping out in discovering my full potential, allowing the validation of other people to define me and keep me bound”. The fear is not in my inadequacy. I know who I am. I know my potential. I know where I want to go and even the beginning steps of how to get there. The fear is in taking a risk, getting uncomfortable, living for something greater than myself, working hard, serving selflessly and living a life of impact because it scares the hell out of me. BUT I also know that is the only way that I will ever discover the absolute most beautiful, influential, powerful, free me. Not in and of myself but through Christ who is my source for it all.
A while ago I read a book called, Healing the Masculine Soul. It was supposed to give me insight into men’s lives and struggles (which it did) but through it I also learned a lot about myself. In one section in particular the author (Gordon Dalbey) talks about how authentic manhood is a fearful thing. He says, “we males today – even as we long to be ‘real men’ are afraid of the courage and the strength it bears. For courage has no meaning apart from danger, nor strength apart from weakness. To be given courage and strength implies the responsibility to exercise them.” I adore the way he puts that – All of us want courage void of risk or danger, and strength void of weakness. But strength is not strength without weakness and courage is not courage without danger. One thing I will never forgot that my Father said to me at a point in high school when I was making a bit of a scary decision was, “If you never have butterflies in your stomach, you’re not going anywhere.” I remember his words to me so vividly…and where I was in the moments following, driving to school and making my decision to step out in it and realizing that this was only the beginning… that if I was going to discover all of the dreams that I knew God had put in my heart I would have to prepare myself for a life of being uncomfortable sometimes and living sacrificially. I knew my potential from the time I was a young girl, however, that experience of finally stepping out in my calling was the beginning of actually living it out.
1 John 4:18 reminds us that there is no fear in love and if the God we serve is love by definition then we can be confidant that through Him alone we can live this one life that we’ve been given courageously. The last part of the quote that I began this blog post with says, “We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” I’ve realized the extent to which that is my call…and your call if you allow it to be. Through our process of freedom, we bring others to freedom. Through our process of not shrinking back in fear, we bring others to courage. Through our limitless potential, beauty is made manifest not only in our lives but in the lives of everyone around us.
How are you allowing fear to keep you from stepping out into what God is calling you to?