“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.”
“You are the light of the world.” —Matthew 5:14
It’s taken over three decades for me to return to the magnificence that I knew as a 3-year-old. When I was 3, I knew I was loved. True, not everyone has a fortunate childhood… But at 3 years old I lived in the moment and played and expressed my greatness and smiled and laughed and didn’t try to change a damn thing about myself. I was pure joy in expression.
Something happened along the way. I can’t remember exactly when…Perhaps it was when I started public school and learned there was a “right” and “wrong” way to do things. Maybe it was after my parents separated and I learned how to achieve to earn attention. By the time I was 13, I was uncomfortable in my own skin and repulsed by the changes going on in my body. At 15, I started writing down every calorie I ate and hovered somewhere between the worlds of craving and shaming. On the outside I was an “A” student and a “good girl” (for the most part). But on the inside, I was an empty shell. No one was home.
It took another decade of exhausting myself by striving to prove my worth while simultaneously starving my body and spirit—all the while hurting myself and others—before I was able to slow down enough to get curious about the black hole at the center of my being.
What I found behind my neurotic striving and controlling—through insight meditation, process painting and other mindfulness practices over the years—was a seemingly-bottomless pit of sadness and grief which simply wanted to be felt. When we are driven by fear, the fear itself is far scarier than that which we are avoiding and running from.
And yet, to my surprise, something existed on the other side of the grief. I found the sweetness of new life, like the purity of a newborn child. A rebirth of my truest, divine self. A homecoming.
Marianne Williamson puts it beautifully in her book A Return to Love:
Over these years and with lots of help, I have healed my relationship with food. What used to be an obsessive, torturous experience has become one of the ways I can nourish myself and my spirit, and take in the vitality that this world offers.
I have also healed my relationship with my sexuality, finding—with surprise—that once I stopped trying to control myself and accepted and loved what was happening, my true nature as a Lesbian emerged naturally.
Each of us is created in the image and likeness of God—of pure goodness. It is the small human mind, the judgement, the mass-delusion of society, the world of “right” and “wrong” which overshadow our truth and place our light under a bushel.
Our job in this lifetime is to uncover our greatness and remember the truths we have forgotten over time. As we come out to our own greatness, we give others permission to do the same. It is the Hero’s Journey—the journey of a lifetime. Coming home to ourselves, and coming out to the world. Expressing the greatness that we are.
PS: Stephanie and I are so excited to offer a process painting experience as part of the upcoming “Out in the Open” LGBT retreat at Unity Village, Sept 27-30th. You can find more info at www.unityvillage.org/lgbt.