Friday, March 4, 2011

Afraid of the Light

Marianne Williamson in her book Return to Love, says, “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.” I love this quote and what it teaches us about ourselves. 

I once heard a student say, “I don't want to get A’s because then the only place to go is down.” That philosophy is flawed. I like the thought that if you shoot for the stars and fall short and hit the moon, you are still far above earth where you started. 

But this attitude of mediocrity is being fueled by something besides our attitudes about ourselves. Sometimes it is other people’s light and not their darkness that we fear.

The self-esteem movement led us into the “everyone gets a trophy” era, and that way of thinking has become detrimental. We have stopped giving children and ourselves models of what light is. Therefore, mediocrity has become the standard. We have stopped praising and acknowledging the light of others. Thus in subtle ways we have stopped encouraging our children and each other to shoot for the stars. We avoid touting other people’s accomplishments because it might make someone else feel bad. We cringe at the very thought that laying out several people’s accomplishments side by side might make one of them feel bad. But while this may sound like it is a Christian, charitable thing to do, it contributes to the problem of no one understanding what constitutes lights or having models of what can be accomplished or what possibilities of achievement are out there.

When we live in Truth, instead of avoiding any mention of a person’s “brightness” or their accomplishments, we recognize the truth that we aren’t going to reach every star every time. But we also realize that by studying, learning from, defining the “stars” and seeing how others have reached those stars we are all helped to grow closer to them. No one is helped by hiding other people’s light or pretending it isn’t there. Everyone is illuminated when we not only allow others to shine, but we acknowledge and help share their light.Playing others as small or all alike does not serve the world.

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