Today as I was watching my daughter's violin lesson, her wonderful teacher Cate asked "Maddy, do you consider yourself to be someone who holds pieces of herself back & tries to take up less room? Or do you think of yourself as someone who opens right up and shares with everybody and isn't afraid to be noticed?"
"Well...both, I guess." (Which is true...she does both. Maybe we all do.)
"Hmm. Right now your violin is asking you to open up more. To be bigger. To take up space. To share more of what you're feeling through your music. It's a great invitation! Can you do it?"
Meanwhile, I'm over on the scratchy sofa, inspired and inwardly nodding my head and saying "Yes, I can, Cate. I will play bigger. I will share. I will take up space."
My life has been asking that of me lately, too, and it's scary: a challenging new church calling, for example. A chance to step up and demonstrate what I've learned in an unfamiliar setting. And a lingering desire to express myself in writing. I'm a walking contradiction (um, my first blog was called Ambitious Homebody...that about sums it up). I want to rise to the challenge that opportunities bring. But I also crave staying well within my comfort zone. Preferably with jammies on. Pieces of this Nelson Mandela passage have been rattling around my brain so I had to go look it up:
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.
Amen, Nelson Mandela. You know what you're talking about, sir.
[I have edited this a couple of times as I've thought about it further. Sorry for the re-publishing!]