Not only is it OK, it’s imperative.
We’ve all heard the expression, “Don’t hide your light under a bushel.” (Translation: we shouldn’t conceal our gifts, talents, and abilities.)
And many of us are familiar with these verses from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
We may know all of that in our hearts and minds, yet still live much of our life in the shadow lands—too timid to step into the light much less shed our own light on others.
Why??? Why are we so afraid?
A few weeks ago, one of my mentors Brian Stark looked me straight in the eye and said, “Jory, it’s OK to shine.” I almost cried. Seriously. Those who have known me a long time may be surprised by that reaction. They know I’ve never had any trouble leading a high school pep rally or performing a lead role in a play or teaching in a classroom or sharing a message from the pulpit. A full-fledged extrovert, I am totally jazzed by front-and-center interaction with others. And yet, Brian’s remark touched my soul. Deeply.
It’s my ego. It’s my ego trying to protect me even though it doesn’t really need to do that anymore. My ego “knows” that my childhood and teenaged years were replete with moments of wanting to be liked, to be accepted. Can you relate? Being smart was good, but too smart not so much. Being a Christian was good, but too Christian not so much. Being pretty was good, but beautiful? And so I lived in a push-pull world of going forward yet stopping short of my full potential. Heaven forbid I not be liked!
But goshdarnit (stomping foot with fists on waist), I’m 58 ½. Does it really matter anymore if people like me? (hmmmm … Sally Fields is coming to mind, God bless her.) Isn’t it more important that I get my gifts and abilities and message into the world? Sure, likeability is an added benefit when you want people to listen to what you have to say, but public opinion mustn’t hold us back from doing what we need to do. Imagine if Jesus were guided by public opinion rather than by His Father. Imagine if His disciples were guided by what people thought of them rather than by what the Master taught and lived. Imagine William Wilberforce or Martin Luther King, Jr. Imagine anybody you know who was bold enough to speak up despite public opinion…bold enough to put ego aside in order to follow their heart and soul, their inner GPS.
May we be inspired to light up the world with our own gifts and message…regardless of what people may think!
I close with an oft-quoted poem by Marianne Williamson, a woman who chooses day by day to deliver her message to the world irrespective of the opinion of others. I pray we all have the courage she demonstrates to step into the light in our own unique way and let our light so shine before others.
Our Deepest Fear
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 we not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t 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 when 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