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, and 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 will not 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. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
~Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
I’ve always liked that passage. At the very least, it’s encouraging. At the very most, it’s permission.
I know it sounds strange that grown, mature adults would need permission, doesn’t it? But consider what the opposite of permission looks like? I’ll show you.
Picture this: A college freshman is at a car dealership, narrowing down her choices first by price range, then by the only thing a college freshman would think was important – the cuteness factor. The only choices left are an adorable little sunshine-yellow sports car or an imposing Chrysler Newport. The budding relationship between girl and auto was rudely interrupted by her mother.
“We’re big people. We need a big car.” said the woman who’d never owned or driven a car in her life. Or been a college freshman!
Apparently, Lesson 1 in Auto Shopping 101 was: Make sure everyone can shove their big butts into it.
That was a very (very) long time ago, but I don’t think I’ve made a single decision since then that didn’t account for the size of my body. To this day, I am uncomfortable anywhere small-ish. I’ve often defined myself and limited my ambitions by my size.
We all have at least a bit of that in us. It may not be your size. It might be your height, you academic aptitude, finances, your gender, the color of your skin.
I’ve participated in workshops where the speaker asks, “If money was no object and success was guaranteed, what would you do with your life?” And the thing is that I still see myself trying to squeeze into a cute little sports car. I just can’t imagine myself without limits.
I want to share something with you, and I don’t share this to get a pat on the back. It’s just to show the disconnect in my perception of myself.
I’ve always loved words and spelling came easy to me. When I was in Grades 6 through 8, I competed in spelling bees and did fairly well.
When I was in the 8th Grade, I accidentally discovered that in spite my absolute fear of speaking in front of an audience, I had a real aptitude for it. Who knew? I spent my high school years in competitive speech and debate. I earned the highest level of recognition the National Forensic League offered at that time, lettered in Forensics and competed at the state level three years in four events.
When my first daughter was born, I had the opportunity to go back to school. Instead of returning to college, I opted for the Vo-Tech in town. That’s where I served as the president for our local chapter of Business Professionals of America, the state Vice President and the national Secretary-Treasurer. (Did you spot the trend? Yes, I’d peaked at the local level.)
The night of the ceremonies, I placed 1st in one of my events, 2nd in the other and became the second member from Kansas to be elected to a national office. (It. was. awesome!) I had given my campaign speech in front of an audience of almost 4,000 people. I was the only candidate hadn’t use note cards or the podium. My instructor was later mortified when I told her I’d gone in front of my peers with nothing more than a sketchy outline of a speech in my head.
Ten years ago, Chicken Soup for the Soul bought the only story I’d ever written with the intent of being published. This year, my second. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to get my very own book published. I’d love to be able to turn the broken pieces of my life into a stained glass vision of God’s grace, his favor, and his power. It would be a shame to waste all that trauma and drama, don’t you think? Do I expect myself to get such a book published? Can a fat girl squeeze her butt into a cute little yellow sports car? I have no idea, because I never tried it. I bought the Newport that day. I didn’t even test drive the smaller car.
There are three take-away’s from this.
- I really don’t know how to say ‘No.’
- I settle for a big car too often.
- God has a plan for me whether I’m on board or not.
During those years, I didn’t even acknowledge God. At the age of 12, I’d accepted Christ as my savior, collected my get-out-of-hell-free card, and went around doing my own thing.
Just remember that God’s going to do what God wants to do. And while he waits for us to surrender ourselves, he keeps busy.
So many of us, though, are the man Jesus met at the healing pool who had been crippled for many years.
“Do you want to be healed?” Jesus asked him.
The beggar never said “Yes.” Jesus healed him anyway because he had compassion. But the beggar had come to identify himself as broken, needy, helpless and dependent. He had no concept of what he would do if money were no object and success was guaranteed.
He simply wasn’t that guy. (You know…that guy.)
God has used so many of his children who couldn’t see themselves the way God saw them. Moses argued that he wasn’t good with words. Abraham and Sarah reminded God that they were beyond fertile years. Jonah? Well, Jonah had his own issues.
How did their stories end? Very simply, God got his way.
We seldom grasp how the kingdom of God works. God’s all about doing the impossible, using resources that we don’t have access to. He’s about and what’s on the other side of the wall.
We are his creations, and by limiting ourselves, our potential, and we’re limiting God.
Our lives aren’t about what we can do. They’re about what God can do with us. When God speaks, things happen!
Think about the beggar by the pool. When he was healed, he was suddenly able to walk, to get a job that used his particular talents, to become a valuable part of his community, to meet a woman who would love him and raise children with him.
Or he might have hung out at the market, doing nothing more than telling everyone why he can’t work because he used to be a cripple.
We don’t know what he did, but what a waste it would have been to not do something with the potential that Christ loosed in him with a touch and a word!
Isaiah 55:11 tells us “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
This is the same word that created the impossibly intricate detail of our bodies. The way it heals itself, the way blood flows through it, the way it regenerates itself – they’re all on autopilot because God set them in motion with a word.
This is the same word that called this planet into being – all on auto pilot.
This is the same word that called you by name and created you in your mother’s womb, imprinting his purpose in your spirit.
People say children don’t come with an instruction manual. Actually, they do. God has a copy of it, but he doesn’t let us read it because he has seen what happens when we have brilliant ideas and try to help him. Crayon marks, highlighted sentences and corrections in red ink everywhere!
So the big question is this: If money was no object and success was guaranteed, what would you do with your life? Are you willing to at least test drive a cute little yellow sports car?
Go ahead! What are you waiting for?