Being Afraid Keeps Us from Shining
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.
Our most common human struggle is being afraid. We are afraid of not measuring up. We are afraid of not being perfect. Of letting others down. Of not being liked. Of not being accepted. Of not being approved. Of not being loved.
We constantly have this string of questions – doubts, really – running through our minds –
- Do I have what it takes?
- Am I good enough?
- Should I have said that?
- How am I going to make it through?
- Should I have done that?
- Are things going to work out?
- Will I ever be able to move on from the past?
- Am I really loved?
- Am I really worthy?
In the Judeo-Christian traditions this is a season of celebrating light, of light burning increasingly brighter to pierce the darkness in our lives. In the stories relating to this season, the stories that have been handed down and retold for centuries, a central focus is on people who were afraid. Afraid that they would be destroyed. Afraid that they could not survive. Afraid that they could not measure up. Afraid of the changes all around them. Afraid that they did not have what it takes. But ultimately, those who doubted, in the end, were convinced that they were – in spite of their doubts – integrally connected to larger purposes and a greater good. In the end even with their doubts they realized that they did have what it takes to measure up.
What is it that makes us so afraid? What causes us to doubt in our selves, in the abilities with which we were born and the abilities that we have developed? Why do we second-guess ourselves so much? Why do we fear reaching out, taking risks or going into the unknown? Why do we fear saying I’m sorry? … saying I love you? … saying I care? … saying I don’t know? … saying I’m scared? … saying I made a mistake? … saying I forgive you?
What would it look like to be at a place of peace, a place in which our fears do not overwhelm us anymore? A place in which we are comfortable with who we are? A place in which we are comfortable with what we’ve said or done or not said or done?
What is that place of peace?
It is a place in which we believe that things can work out and will. It is a place in which we can let go of having (the illusion) of having all the control. It is a place in which we can be comfortable that enough is enough. It is a place in which we are not afraid to step up, to step out, to step ahead into a light that pierces the darkness of our fears.
It is a place in which we know with assurance that we are valuable simply because we are. It is a place that just by virtue of our lives, our creation and our birth, that we know that we are meaningful and vital, that our worth is not based on what we do, but that we are treasured simply because we are.
During this holiday season we hope that the light can break forth in your own life, so that you will know deeply within that you, simply by virtue of your being, are of sacred worth and that you are of significance to this life and world.
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afriad of the light.