8.31.2015

play big

“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. 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.” 
Marianne Williamson 

How's that for a power-packed start to your Monday?

I've been thinking a lot about this quote lately, and what it means to play big vs. play small. I would love to have coffee with a friend or two to really dive in and discuss what it means, because those are the types of conversations I live for - profound, a bit abstract, and meaningful. But unless Pippa wants to have a metaphysical discussion with me tomorrow, I think I'll have to stick with my own mind for now.

So what does Marianne Williamson mean when she bids us not to play small?

For me, and this might be different for other people, playing small is when I hide what I have to offer because there is a risk someone will reject me, make fun of me, or misunderstand me. Here is what I mean:
It's safe and acceptable and even lauded to wear the title of Spanish Teacher. I hold that title proudly, and others freely give it their approval. I'm passionate about the Spanish language and travel, and I enjoy passing those gifts on to my students. That's an easy way to share my talents with the world and give back to God. Very little risk of rejection.
It's safe and acceptable to wear the title of Mother. One doesn't have to look far on the internet to find essay after essay putting mothers of all kinds on pedestals, reminding everyone how tough and necessary our job is. Staying home with my kids is considered a noble and brave way to serve God and others with my gifts.

But...

It's terrifying to share my other passions with people.

* I absolutely love the art of photography, but I am all too aware of how amateur my photos are. Plus, will others think it's a useless waste of time?
* I have wanted to be a writer since around 3rd grade (around the same time I came to terms with the fact that I would never play for the Green Bay Packers), but chose not to pursue that passion, because it didn't seem like a dependable way to earn a living. Everyone's a critic, and I would be opening myself up to so much rejection to label myself a writer.
* Writing a blog comes with the connotations of being a self-obsessed, materialistic narcissist. Would everyone I know view me that way if I started a blog? I put it off for so long because of the fear of what others would think.
* I started a business from home with a health and wellness company, but the main reason I almost didn't was because of the fear that others would label me a salesperson, a fraud, annoying, or ignorant. I have devoured information about nutrition and fitness since a young age, so this has been such a good fit for me. It allows me to provide for my family while staying home with my kids. This business is easily misunderstood, though, so when others don't take my words in the best way, or when they make fun of my efforts...it hurts. And it's tempting to just shrink back into the shadows and forget about the whole thing. But what about those I could be helping by sharing what I have?
* Sharing my Christian views can be controversial, so I tend to stick with feel-good, agreeable statements in my interactions with others. God forgive me when I shy away from boldly sharing his truth because it might be hard for others to hear.

Gross - all of those statements are about me. What will others think of me? What if I look bad by sharing those gifts? Who am I to think I can lead and help others?

The question is not "what will others think about me?"  The question is "what will I show others about God?"

There is nothing wrong with living a quiet life. If that is how you can use the gifts God has given you to serve him and others, to give him glory, then a quiet life is playing big! I think playing small just means burying our talents out of fear. Hiding our light under a bushel because others might have something negative to say about it. When we are focused on ourselves, then we become miserly with our time, talent, and treasure. When we are focused on serving God and others, we stop worrying about being mocked, gossiped about, or criticized. We start playing big.

So stop worrying about how people will perceive you and what they will say about you. Someone will find something wrong with you no matter what. Stop worrying that people will say you are greedy or attention-hungry if you share your God-given talents with the world. For if you only take enough for yourself, how can you give to others who are in need? If you keep your gifts to yourself, how can you share them with someone looking for exactly what you have?

If you want to write, then write! Someone may be inspired or comforted by your words.
If you want to design clothes, then do it! Someone may find the confidence they need in your designs.
If you want to be an interpretive dancer, go for it! And take me with! Someone may find joy in the beauty of your movement.

Just make sure that whatever you do, you do it to God's glory. That is the only true way to play big, to let your light shine.

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