Words to Remember: Our Greatest Fear, by Nelson Mandela

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and 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 were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.

And, as we let our own light shine,
we consciously give other people permission
to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

– Nelson Mandela

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently, thinking about whether or not it really is fear of success that is our greatest fear? I don’t actually think that is mine. I think it once was, but now… I’m scared of the “what then” part of reaching a dream.

You see, I wanted to be a stay at home mom. Badly. I wanted to be there when my kids were taking their first steps, trying, seeing, experiencing things with them. I wanted to be there.

I quit my job – not simply because of the stay at home piece though; I quit my job because I was mentally incapable of going back after the Placenta Incident. Every.single.thing that is going on mentally with me was triggered and I just couldn’t.

So. I became what I had said I wanted so much: a stay at home mom! I got us to eat a lot of beans for a long time, try our hands at growing our own food, got to experience firsthand the futility of housekeeping with toddlers!

I got what I wanted.

And then what? We went to Mexico, were inspired to go on the Pan Am, I got pregnant with Mack, had him and BAM! I had three kids – what I really, really wanted – and was a stay at home mom – and oh.my.God. but did I ever get depressed.

I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle 3 kids. Couldn’t handle the incessant needs, crying, lack of sleep, never ending chores. I wanted to feel GOOD at something, SUCCESSFUL. I wanted the quiet of my old office at UC Berkeley, the calm, the efficiency of a system that can run (- and any former coworkers reading this – you guys might bitch around Peets about the inefficiency of it all, but in the game of Cal vs. ToddlerLand; Cal wins. Hands down).

I’ve been struggling for so long now to feel some sense of… something good about myself. I’m not saying this to fish for you to stay nice stuff about me – I’m not and I really don’t want it. That kind of thing has to come from inside me; it’s not going to do any real good coming from anyone else. But I’ve been struggling. This blog helps a lot because of writing and connecting with other people, even if it’s only virtual. It also helps because it’s this almost-daily affirmation to myself that my voice counts too. That I deserve a place at the table, just like everyone does.

 

Which brings me back to the quote. The heavy – inspirational part of this quote for me is the part about making manifest the glory of God:

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us

It is not just in some; it is in everyone

 

The glory of God? I think you can make that what you believe – the Universe, Source, a Divine power or energy, Goddess. Many names, same light, same feeling when you reach on down and connect with it. The name “God” cloaks and confuses the truth for so many people because of negative experiences with religion, but, name aside, focusing on feeling, the feeling that you get when you look up at the stars on a clear night and can see the entire Milky Way. Or the feeling that you get when you feel totally shitty and someone, out of the blue, does something so kind and unexpected it takes your breath away – like that old man who was riding the elevator in the hospital and was trying to open the door for me. Or the feeling of awe that envelops you as you  something that moves you in your core: that, I believe, is coming from God. I don’t think God is some old man in the sky; I see God as so much more; so much beyond what my finite mind can wrap itself around – and how could I understand anyway? The finite can never comprehend the infinite.

 

The glory of God within us; it’s not just in some; it’s in everyone.

And I believe that. That we all have these magnificent stories and voices and we all deserve a place at the table. We all have this light in us that we almost have a responsibility to allow to shine. I’m not sure if I’m just framing it with “responsibility” because I think it’s important and “responsibility” is a word that my Taurean/Ox self responds well to or not, but the point is that I think this is one of those really big points to life.

That we need to let ourselves shine. Allow ourselves our voice. Believe in the validity and worth of our own stories. Challenge ourselves to send that manuscript in, submit that painting for the contest, build that website, make that dress by hand, take that course, dance that dance and apply for that job. Whatever it is; we have these incredibly short lives with this fire in us all that is begging to be fed and wants to grow and was born to be.

And maybe – just maybe – if I say this enough to my own self, I will do something with it too.

Meriah
is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).
She likes her coffee black and hot.
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