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 you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  

Marianne Williamson

This quote has been following me around for a couple of years now, nipping at my heels.  I love it.  Well, I love it NOW.  For a long time I loved the idea of it- y’know, like kale, or pajama jeans.

I’m just kidding.  I legit love pajama jeans.

Until recently, mine has been a life guided by fear.  Well, fear and shame. Now, fear and shame may not be exactly the same thing, but they are fraternal twins.  They are born of the same womb.

I think when you experience severe trauma as a child, you tend to be prone to catastrophic thinking.  It’s very easy to go to the worst case scenario, because you’ve lived it.  When you think that way, everything becomes loaded.  Stakes seem higher than they are. That makes the idea of mistakes- which I think we can all agree are part of the human condition- much more daunting.  It can tend to make you risk averse.

Any time your decision making stems from a place of fear, you are not well served, and neither is anyone in your life. If you live big, if you live up to your God given potential, then your mistakes are bigger, too.  Your failures are OUT LOUD.  If you hold yourself in, and make yourself small, then your mistakes are smaller, sure, but so are your successes, so is your growth.  So is your JOY.

The thing is, if you are afraid to make a mistake, you will required to live a very small life. A careful life. In my personal life, I lived very small.  I had areas where I was confident- where I was more me.  I wasn’t small when I was teaching art, for example.  I was confident in my ability- daring even.  But at home and in my relationship I made myself as small as possible.  Part of it was not wanting to bump up against the sharp edges of what my relationship had become, but part of it was just my fear.  The, “who am I to be bold?” fear. I spent a lot of time and energy making sure I stayed under the radar.

When your self esteem is nil, you lack confidence in your ability to discern the best course of action, you second guess yourself constantly.  As a result of that, when I was married, I tended to leave all of the big decisions to my husband.  I deferred to him constantly.  It probably seemed passive aggressive, in retrospect- but really, I was just paralyzed.  I didn’t feel like I could afford to be wrong.

When I think about that from his perspective, while it gave him a lot of control, that was also an awful lot of pressure for one person to bear.  You can’t have a true partnership with that dynamic in play.

I gave a lot of people a lot of power over me.  And I don’t think it was because I didn’t think I was powerful, I think it is because I was afraid that I was.

Dita Von Teese once said, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches”  It used to be very important to me that people like me.  I would be undone at the knowledge that someone didn’t. I would go to great lengths to try and FIX it if someone didn’t like me, or didn’t seem to like me.  That’s another way of living small.

If you are living up to your true potential, if you are living in the sunlight, if you are living truthfully, you are going to piss some people off.  Count on it.

I am finally at a place where I would rather be disliked for who I actually am, than be liked for a diminutive, inauthentic version of myself.  I’m gonna shine.  You wanna put on sunglasses, knock yourself out.

I attended Donald Miller’s Storyline Conference in October.  I keep trying to write about the experience, but I haven’t quite been able to get my arms around it just yet.  One of the recurring themes was, Your Story Matters.  I have been thinking about that since He wrote it down. was published.  So many people offering up their stories.  I read them all, and every single one mattered.  All of them.

The other thing Donald Miller said was, What will the world miss if you don’t tell your story? When he first said it, all the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.  It didn’t feel like a rhetorical question.  It felt like a question that needed answering, way deep down.  In my soul.

Friends, there was a long, long stretch in my life where my answer to that question would have been, Nothing.  Not one damned thing.

I don’t believe that any more.

I have things to say, and I have things to do. I am sure of it.  I am certain I will fail along the way.  I am certain I will faceplant from time to time- but that no longer fills me with dread.  I am not afraid to dream big and fail bigger, if it means finally living the life I was born to live.  The life I am capable of living.

We are all given gifts in this life.  Some are beautiful, some are terrible.  All gifts serve a purpose.  Every single one.

Who are we not to use them?  Who are we not to share them with each other? Here is what I am realizing, more and more every day.  When you step into the light, when you decide to shine- everybody wins.  When you take the gifts God gave you, even if it is the gift of pain, and put workboots on it- when you go out into the world and say, HERE I AM! we all feel less alone.

I am no longer content to stay under the radar.  It’s true- the fall from up here is a doozy, but my God, is the view spectacular.

Come join me over on Facebook!

In Others’ Words on Facebook

26 Comments on “Shine.

  1. If I am completely honest, I’m still afraid of the face plants, and it still stings when people don’t like my authentic self, but I am trying not to let that stop me 😉 I’m trying to remember that there will be a time when the inevitable faceplant is behind me and that the point of being my true self is not to get people to like me in the first place. Hard, but GOOD. Great post, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is absolutely beautiful and so authentically vulnerable. Thank you for the courage to share these thoughts. I went to the Storyline Conference last February and totally understand the enormity of figuring out what “Your Story Matters” truly means. I’m grateful for others on the same journey!


  3. this may be my favorite post, but i keep saying that! i knew it would pierce me because of the title. shine means something to me. all sorts of shitty shame. the MESSage haunting me for a lifetime: oh honey it’s great to shine…just don’t shine too brightly. oy. your words shed light on how that message repeatedly wrecks me. your words illuminate why peering from the shadows does not honor anyone. thank you, friend. your story matters so much to the universe. thank you for shining and reminding me to. peace to you right where you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I needed this. I needed this more than words can say. I love the quote at the beginning, and when you say, “If you hold yourself in, and make yourself small, then your mistakes are smaller, sure, but so are your successes, so is your growth. So is your JOY.” it resonated deep within my soul. It’s truth echoed within me. When you talked about the non-rhetorical question you were asked, I got chills. Your words inspire me to be more. Thank you for sharing them with the world. Thank you for choosing to live big! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is exactly what I needed to hear. I have been thinking about this same idea for months now, and you worded it perfectly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes. Absolutely. Say it out loud as many times as it needs to be said.
    “He wrote it down.” are the words every victim of abuse needs to hear.
    Micah 6:8 says “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God”.
    “Do justly” means to hand out a verdict or sentence that fits the crime,
    at the same time remembering we ARE God-created, and He loves mercy.
    Thank you for your courage in speaking out. My mother never could, and
    went to her grave without telling anyone the real story.
    But, honey, please listen to me here……Pain is NOT a gift. Don’t glorify it, or embrace it.
    Pain is the result of evil. The pain needs to go and you need to heal. When that happens,
    we will ALL need to wear sunglasses! 😉


    • I hear what you are saying, Karen- I do. What happened to me was not a gift, but it has brought gifts into my life. Perhaps I didn’t make that distinction clear. Maybe the pain itself is not a gift, but there are gifts within the pain. Does that make sense? And not all pain is the result of evil- some is simply the result of human frailty. I have let go of the pain, and I am healing, more and more every day.

      I am so sorry your mother was never able to speak her truth- what a terribly heavy thing to carry around. That breaks my heart.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I my goodness….it’s like you’re in my head. 🙂 so many thoughts I’m in the middle of…going/ gone through and going…peeling back the layers. YES, being authentic!!!! I matter and can stand up for myself. I am worthy!!!! Woohoo…you heard me say still peeling back layers. 😉 a-n- d being authentic!!!
    The way I discribe my challenges (yes I am an adult survivor od child abuse and found out throught repressed memories at the age of a year ago, at 50 years young 😉 )
    So what I believe is
    With every situation God comes out of.
    Or you could say,
    God comes out of every situation.
    I like the first.

    I need to look up the life story class you mentioned.

    Have you ever heard the word to ‘brillo’?
    a gal I met at a workshop I attended (a year ago almost to the day) was from Europe. She said she wanted to ‘brillo’. I was very confused. Being from Texas i thought of the ‘brilliant pad’ you scrub grimy pans with. Well ‘brillo’ to her meant ‘to shine’.
    So to you I say, “You are brilloing..brightly! Somebody get me some shades.”

    Blessings dear friend 🙂


      • The conference 2015 is in Chicago and the site says it’s closed. It’s set for the End of oct-nov 1. Bummer.
        I’ll keep checking for the next one.
        procress-ing on down my road of life 😛


  8. So, you’ve quickly become a meaningful presence in my life, when a friend posted the “He wrote it down” blog entry on her facebook. Everything you write is ripped from my life — well, only you’re where I’d like to be. Not “living small” and in shame and fear and perfectionism because mistakes are so terrifying to make. I’ve made progress, I have, with therapy, but thanks for the reminder there’s always more progress that can be made. That people really can learn how to shine, even when they don’t know how. And sometimes feel hopeless about ever learning.


    • If you had told me three years ago that I would be in this place- happy, healthy and healing- I would have laughed in your face, and possibly thrown a shoe at you. Life is nothing if not surprising. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, just keep doing that good work on yourself, and one day- mark my words- you’ll catch yourself shining. Right when you least expect it. I can’t wait, friend- it’s gonna be amazing. So glad you’re here. xo

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi, is there a place where I can comment privately? I loved what you have written and would like to converse more about my own story. Thank you for your bravery:)


  10. Sweetheart….read and re-read ALL of these comments. You have set into motion the feelings and courage all these people needed to keep moving forward. YOU. DID. THIS. You did it with the most sublime yet powerful of all weapons…words. And you wield them so wisely. Brava, Love! Never quit. XOXOX


  11. Described brilliantly. I have loved that quote for a long time. Your article particularly resonated with me about how you felt you could shine bravely in some areas but not in others. So, so true. Likewise, I taught confidently in high school for many years and now, as a retired teacher, often consult and advise younger teachers. But in other parts of life, fear of failure is huge. Just jumping into blogging was scary. Today is a good day. I’m feeling confident about my relationship and some new experiences that I want to take on. It was a good day to read your piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love the quote, “shine” , it says it so well. I can relate to not being able to make a decision ( to save my life) . Anytime I went to a restaurant, I would always be the last one deciding what to order, and still not be sure. Awful! I deferred to my ex also. How crazy to be afraid to make a decision for fear that it will be wrong somehow. I don’t recall how Jesus set me free from that, it’s been a long time, but I am so glad to be able to just choose!! To choose what I like and want, not trying to please someone else. Or be fearful of being condescended to or bringing out another’s anger. Being made fun of. Lots of reasons to not decide!! Tell my story?? Who wants to hear that mess? I thought the same thing, “nothing, they won’t miss anything” because so many others have the same story, so why do they need mine? I know now, for whatever reason, they need it. Need?? wow, ok. I’ve started blogging it. I still feel conflicted in “I want people to read it/ I don’t want anyone to read it” . I thank you for you and your blog. I appreciate everything you share. You shine!

    Liked by 1 person

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