Bright Light Living is about my a-ha moment. Sometimes you can hear or see something repeatedly, but it just doesn’t register – I mean truly register – until you are ready to receive its true, impactful meaning . . .
I am a middle child who lived a middle-class type of life. My mother raised me to be content and thankful for what I had. She would say, “there will always be people who have more than you, but there will always be people who have less than you. Be thankful for what you have.” I took that to heart. I was thankful.
I was average in a lot of things, but not exceptional in anything. I made the National Honor Society, played sports, was a cheerleader, was in school plays, and had friends. Somehow I always seemed to “make” whatever I tried out for. But, I was never the Most of anything. I was not Valedictorian (or even close), not Most Popular (or even close), not Best Looking (or even close), not a sports MVP (or even close). . .you get it, I was a great all-around (average) person. I took that to heart. I accepted my status.
I would be in the company of intellects and feel inferior, remaining quiet because I didn’t feel as if I had anything of value to contribute. I would hear stories of my friends who were making more money or had more prestigious jobs and I would remind myself, “it’s okay, I am not in it for the money. I like what I do.”
My parents passed down to me many of their great qualities; I consider myself a good (average) mix of both of them. My father was an engineer for NASA who received his doctorate from George Washington (and Va. Tech for undergrad—Go Hokies!—sorry, had to give that plug). He passed to me his strategic thinking and organizational skills. If only he passed to me his exceptional brain. My mother was a top sales leader in Mary Kay; she is now also a well-respected vision coach. She exudes positivity and charisma; people are and were always drawn to her. She passed along to me her positivity, creativity, and belief in goodness. If only she passed to me her charisma. I always felt as if I paled in her shadow.
That is my early story. We all have one. A story of what shapes our belief systems and perceptions of who we are and what we think the world has to offer. Our early stories are often what sets our perimeters and establishes our limitations—our self-imposed limitations. For me, it was the limitation that I was good enough to feel like a fraud, so therefore I was never great enough. My perimeters dictated that I should always try things, but only with small expectations of true, ultimate, exceptional success. I expected average success.
“This little light of mine,
I’m going to let it shine.
This little light of mine,
I’m going to let it shine.”
I had two favorite songs from my early Sunday school days. The first: “We Are One in the Spirit” and the second: “This Little Light of Mine.”
Both songs also shaped my belief system and influenced who I wanted to be. I wanted to be an example. I believed in being kind to everyone so that they could see God’s love through me. I would let myself shine in that regard. I would shine in goodness . . .but not greatness.
Fast-forward to present day. I am driving to work and “This Little Light of Mine” for some reason popped into my head. I started singing it. I then reached for a notebook given to me by my mother. The book opened up to a famous quote (my mother had pasted inside). I had always liked the quote and thought I understood it until . . .
I had the A-ha moment. It took both reminders of light to come to me TOGETHER for it to finally hit me over the head: God does not want us playing small or average. He wants us to SHINE BRIGHT. He wants to be confident, full of belief and hope; He wants us to live without fear or limitations. He wants us to SOAR.
The quote is Marianna Williamson’s “Our Deepest Fear.” It is an affirmation that we should be living BRIGHT, which also gives others permission to do the same.
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
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