“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, fabulous? 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. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. 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.” From Akeela and the Bee, Our Deepest Fear by Marianne Williamson
I was young. Perhaps in the 2nd or 3rd grade when I was first told to “not act so smart”. By the time I was in Junior High it was “Don’t use big words”. High school? “Don’t talk so fast. Don’t ask questions that aren’t in our conservative Christian club guide.” 20’s… “Don’t talk too much. Don’t use big words. Don’t out study the bible study leader.”, “You don’t have much musical talent. You shouldn’t sing.” 30’s…”Don’t out work the pastor’s wife. Don’t out think those in leadership or use big words…”
I have always been aware of the pull to be less than, compromise what I want to become, the abilities that I have for the behaviors that are more “socially acceptable”.
So I held back. Most of the time. But I wanted to speak the things on my mind! I wanted to examine my own voice. Without censure. Personal or public.
Several years ago I began blogging and found a forum where I was allowed and encouraged to speak my mind, openly evaluate the world around me and to process my life thus far.
As my voice grew I found myself able to take that confidence from online interaction and apply it to my Real Life. I quit apologizing for doing pages of additional study when the basic bible study was enough. I loved to seek out what was unsaid, what was hidden. I stopped pretending I have any interest whatsoever in gardening or needlework. If I wanted to wear lipstick to the grocery store at 9:30AM and shiny, red pumps? I did it. If I had an opportunity to play, to sing, to do music in public? I grabbed it with both hands and sang, full voice, regardless of who was listening. I like to cook. I cook well. I rarely am invited to someone else’s home for dinner without a lengthy apology from them that they can’t cook the way I do… Blah, blah, blah. As if I care?
Living wholeheartedly is fun. And I laugh a lot more. And my circle of friends has shrunk. And those who remain, as kind as they are, still attempt to create an atmosphere of shame where I am mocked for being the one who looks up the root word, who speaks up in political debate, who can write lesson plans, create classes and write music. Why I care about showing up at a homeschool coop wearing Gucci sunglasses and funky jewelry?
I don’t say this to boast. I truly don’t. I don’t necessarily know why I care to do all these things. For every one thing I am able to do well there are at least 10 I could name where I fail. I haven’t reached any measure of success in my life by not working hard or stretching my concepts of what is possible.
I have reached a point in my life where I see the opportunities in front of me and I know that every time I say, “Yes” and reach out beyond my comfort zone there are those around me who will despise me for trying. Those I thought would support me will not be there and those precious few who will stick around? Are worth my best effort.
And I’m living a lie that dishonors my God if I choose to live any less than the entire life He gave me.