It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us

Weird convergence of random quotes that all seem to be talking about the same thing.

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 unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Marianne Williamson, co-leader of the USA Department of Peace movement
(quote often wrongly attributed to Nelson Mandela)

“And this is undoubtedly true, that there is a repentance and a faith, which are, more especially, necessary at the beginning: a repentance, which is a conviction of our utter sinfulness, and guiltiness, and helplessness; and which precedes our receiving that kingdom of God, which, our Lord observes, is within us; and a faith, whereby we receive that kingdom, even righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

John Wesley “The New Birth” sermon

Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the (Father’s) imperial rule is in the sky,’ then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father’s) imperial rule is inside you and outside you. When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. But if you do not know yourselves, then you live in poverty, and you are the poverty.”

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.’

Luke 17:20-21, NRSV

thoughts?  reflections?

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Comments

  1. simplejoys123 says

    I think that often we act unconsciously as if we were gods unto ourselves…believing ourselves to be self-made for example, and independent, etc. The unconscious aspect of this wonder is important…because if we pause to consider in fact that God is within us, and around us, we are simply floored in awe. That first quote you offered, in particular, and the one from Luke's gospel, are ones that, when considered with detachment and thoughtfulness, never cease to fill me with awe, wonder, and humility, and yet, responsibility that makes me tremble a good bit.

  2. John says

    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.

    These are pretty words, but they are nonsense. We fear things that jeopardize our safety. This is instinctive in all creatures. Fire? Bad. Predators? Bad. Darkness (and therefore the unknown)? Bad.

  3. Marla Marcum says

    John, I disagree (and agree)… The agreement comes with your suggestion that we fear the unknown. Precisely. That's why we fear being powerful beyond measure (Disagreement points start here): many people hold back because the sameness of the way things are is known, and so feels safer than stepping out in faith to answer the call to do something big… I think this is the main reason that people do not really follow when the Spirit calls. For me, the possibility of failure (when the Spirit has already shown you that you're coasting within a failed situation/society/way of being) is not a sufficient excuse to explain why we don't step out in faith. Just seems like failure is a description (not the cause) of our situations when we don't follow the Spirit. But if we follow and are successful, we know our lives will be transformed (and so will the lives of others)… and that means we'd have to work really hard and learn lots of new ways of being and living and loving… and we'd always be outside our comfort zones, and we'd probably be constantly screwing up and having to apologize (or refusing to admit we were wrong, which is just more screwing up).

    I read "powerful" in this poem to refer to the power to commit fully to the "light"… if you read on in the poem, you see that she's talking about claiming the power to be fully who God has created us to be (with our own particular strengths and gifts and graces that we were given that we might USE them).

    I think it's clear that we fear these more than our own "darkness"es… because we cling so determinedly to our darknesses (whether they be sins of too much pride, too much hiding under a bushel, or any of the myriad other personal failings that we hone and turn into habit and excuse for not being who we know God is calling us to be in the world). Thus, our darkness becomes the thing that we know well, and we allow the unknown in our lives to be that which is our "light"… I think we all do it, not just big-time criminals or relationship abusers.

    I used that Marianne Williamson poem in my sermon Feb 7th at Calvary UMC in Arlington, MA (with the story of Jesus calling the first disciples in Luke)… Fishing for people is a pretty big call, it scares me to imagine committing to doing it with my whole self… and then, what if I'm good at it???

  4. Anonymous says

    I agree Marla. It is our light that scares us because it is the unknown aspect of ourselves. We desperately try to cling to the idea that happiness comes from external sources (ie materialistic goods, the perfect relationship, money etc.) that we simply can not see the true light and happiness that emmnates FROM us.

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