“Fearful Flight from the LIGHT, Mandela Revisited.”

. . . . . . .w r e s t l i n g . . . w i t h . . . G o d . . . . . . .

I continue to wrestle with Mandela’s quote (below), as I have for years, though as one weathers and grows through the seasons of life, some wrestling acumen is acquired. I love the fact that new scientific studies of the brain show that as people grow older their mental capacities do not have to dim but can be transformed, gaining not only what we might call wisdom but also a higher consciousness. Whatever that all means, it means for me that I can be more honest in my thoughts and living, and as Step 5 in Alcoholic’s Anonymous states, “Admit to God, myself, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.’ 

Therefore, whether you call it a ‘wrong’ or a ‘character defect’ or simply running away and hiding, why is it, as Mandela writes, that “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” The complete quote is as follows:

“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 doesn’t 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 that is within us. It is not just in some of us: it’s in everyone. And when 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.” 


Let me give three reasons for such fearful flight from the LIGHT, and I welcome any and all responses as we continue to raise each other’s consciousness on this truth. 

1) Human Nature. Call it what you will: ‘weakeness’ ‘fragility’ ‘insecurity’ and so much more. We get comfortable in the gray-day-routines we fashion for ourselves so we do not have to think too much or change. Real change is such hard work. I think of ‘close encounters’ that humans have recorded with ‘other beings’ or ‘bright lights’ or something beyond their knowing; their response it usually fear, awe-struck, fainting, trembling, and other loss of bodily functions! A few Biblical scenes come to mind of the virgin Mary being ‘greatly troubled’ by the light of Gabriel at her annunciation, or John, on the island of Patmos, falling down in the presence of such angelic brilliance.

2) Fear of Abandonment. A psychological phrase that can be simplified in this context to ‘Not being liked.’ Are we afraid to expose our lights and brilliance through our gifts and talents because others might feel inferior to us and leave us? In their not wanting to change or not knowing how, could our shining freedom push them further away from us?

3) Environment. How we are raised, what role-models we are given, be they shining examples or hard workingsurvivalists, can all impact our acceptance or avoidance of our strength and luminosity.

Embracing our LIGHT and Strength. How good that our ‘souls’ or ‘all the best in us’ feeds ravishingly upon the pure light that comes from above. The New Testament verse from James 1:17 floods my thoughts: ” Every good and perfect gift is from above,coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Its true, we are often weak and fragile, but as one of my all time favorite pottery verses states: 

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ, but we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:6-7) 

I know from my own recovery, and that of hundreds of others I work with and grow with during meetings, whatever you call your LIGHT, be it the face of Christ or the LIGHT of the Moon, any power greater than ourselves can begin effective change in giving us the strength and the desire to more deeply embrace that LIGHT. But what about our friends??? If others so called ‘friends and loved ones’ would shy away and leave us because of personal light expression, they are not friends or loved ones, and if they are, they will return stronger. 

Yet, as I reread all these words, my spirit whispers a few of my well-worn prayers, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief;” “Give me the desire to desire it!” But I am thankful, as the Light does it’s work in me, I can confidently pray, “May the Light and inner Strength and Power I’ve been blessed with, shine ever more brightly through me, so that others will be touched, healed, and changed, empowering others as well.” This wrestling with God and embracing the Light has been acted and reenacted from the Garden, hiding from the LIght, to Jacob wrestling with the Angel and not letting go until he received a blessing, to our daily living and how we truly grow. We cannot escape our Divine Love or that special Dance/Wrestling!


“Back In 15 Minutes” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Book Excerpt – 5)


She’s from New York, but moved out to Minnesota a few years ago to begin to recover and raise her teenage son. We ran into each other at the large coffee pot before the meeting. She was wearing the neatest wide-brimmed straw hat, calling it “my country-girl look.”  She is a great addition and blessing to our Wednesday 10:00 a.m. AA group–colorful, unpredictable, not afraid to share her vulnerability or hesitant to ask if anybody needs a little time before we begin. Last Wednesday she shared with the group a recent embarrassing public incident that almost landed her in jail but turned out for the best. The story initially made her look weak and powerless, but upon reflection, it empowered her and us. The power wasn’t coming from her, but from her Higher Power.

This week she shared a story titled “Back in Fifteen Minutes.” I asked her after the meeting if I could use it in my writing and she agreed. Our meeting topic was humility in our recovery. She told us that in the midst of the darkest period of her addiction she owned and operated a shop in New York City. She would often find herself hiding beneath the table in her shop, not wanting to see or speak to anyone. She regularly locked her shop and put a sign on the front door “Back in Fifteen Minutes.” She would escape to the bar just down the street, exceeding her fifteen-minute limit by hours, if not days. She said, “I would always keep putting that sign on the front door. Back in fifteen minutes—back in fifteen minutes—back in fifteen minutes. That’s how I lived my life!”

Wow! That phrase slipped beneath my defenses and I pondered my own “back in fifteen minutes” signs I frequently post. Think of those dark times of escape, hiding, running, avoiding, stuffing, burying, and so much more, cavernous depths of mere existence, on the edge, teetering, almost gone. Places where we could have gone either way, where we could have slipped into oblivion.

It is empowering to see my friend’s smile, encouraging words, and bright colors almost every week now. Her brutal honesty and self-effacement strip away much of the darkness I find myself still wanting to hide in, under the table with others walking all around me. She is refreshing, even on her fragile days when she needs more time—perhaps especially then.

____________________________

 

“What If……”

A New Beginning . . .

T r a n s f o r m a t i o n a l I d e a . . .

I LOVE THIS…………I don’t have to write or quote: “What if you had an idea that could change the world?” because there already exists so many ‘ideas’ that have and are changing the world. I simply have to use those miraculous, transofrmational ideas, truths and teachings and apply them to my life. The real ‘What If” is, “What if I actually put into practice the truths I have already been given????  And the even better ‘what if’ relating to this is, ‘What if I am given the desire and strength to daily put these truths into practice?

What If I Begin To Live The Truths I Already Know???

 Here are just two of those “What If “Truths I’ve been given:

1)   What if this is as good as it gets????   This was the classic line from the scene in the movie “As Good As It Gets” where Jack Nicholson’s character bursts into a Psychiatrists office, looks around at all the patients waiting and blurts out: “What if this is as good as it gets??!!!”  We can look at this as a lament or an empowering.

We can cry out, “Oh no, what if this is as good as it gets, and all my hopes and dreams will not be fulfilled!” Or we can allow this truth to energize us believing and knowing that the present, this moment IS as good as it gets. I don’t have to live in the past or worry about the future. I can let go and let God. I can be here now and fully enjoy this time—this is as good as it gets and  I can enjoy this blessed present.  This ‘present’ is a ‘gift’ to enjoy, regardless of how I may have convinced myself to the contrary. 

2)   What if our worst day can become our best day? What if there is a God, a power, a divine force that loves us beyond imagination and specializes in taking the most devastating, shameful, and hurting parts of our lives and recycles them, making them into  brand new creations?!!  Yes, this is ‘Beyond Humpty Dumpty’. This is true in my life and in the lives of millions—certainly hundreds/thousands of lives I have interacted with over the decades. I have seen these slow, steady, miraculous changes, and I am living them. To go beyond humpty dumpty is coming to  believe and live an amazing, recycled life that exceeds the life I used to live. 

Not only are we spiritual beings having a human experience, but when we live out these truths, we receive a foretaste of heaven. As Samuel Coleridge reminds us,  Heaven begins now in that spiritual connection, and goes on forever!

HEAVEN is REAL….it begins NOW and goes on FOREVER!

“Fearing the Light More Than The Darkness???”

Peace Activist Nelson Mandela

Over the years I continue to ‘run into’ the famous, challenging, thought provoking statement by former South African President Nelson Mandela. As I was visiting this past week with a close friend about letting our lights shine, Mandela’s words resurfaced in my heart and mind. I went and dug out the quote and read it to him:

“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 doesn’t 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 that is within us. It is not just in some of us: it’s in everyone. And when 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.”

Why Is It That Light Frightens Us?

The two phrases that hit me the hardest are:  1) There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  2) And when 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.”

The first point is resolved in the second. When we are uninhibited, developing the talents we’ve been given and allowing them to flow out of us, others around us are empowered. There will always be those who will shrink back, not understand, be envious and even spiteful, but it’s all worthwhile for those lives that are touched and changed as we have been.

The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of It's Parts!

 

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, born 18 July 1918, is a South African politician who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, the first ever to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before being elected President, Mandela was a militant anti-apartheid activist, and the leader and co-founder of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). In 1962 he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela went on to serve 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Island. Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela led his party in the negotiations that led to the establishment of democracy in 1994. As President, he frequently gave priority to reconciliation, while introducing policies aimed at combating poverty and inequality in South Africa. He received 250 awards, including the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize

Mandela Letting His Light (Smile) Shine!

 

The Cry of My Heart!

Our Hearts Cry Out and Gravitate Towards Our Creator

If I asked a religious mix of one hundred people, from fundamentalists to athiests, “Who do you think the words of the following poem are about?”

How would they respond?

Chorus of the song "It Is The Cry of My Heart" by Terry Butler

I actually love this because there is not one answer! It expresses the cry of my heart in being open to all spirituality and, as recovery states, “Take what works and leave the rest.” There is a powerful progression to our inner healing.

Therefore, my response to the above question could be multi-faceted, from myself, to my loved ones, to the Lover of My Soul. True recovery and healing in any area of our lives is to first become ‘friends’ with ourselves, loving who we are and becoming more comfortable in our own skin. Second, the cry of my heart is to know, love, and follow those who are here to teach me, whether that be unconditional love from those who embrace me, to forgiveness for those who hate me. 

The Cry of My Heart to Follow . . .

And finally, and perhaps foremost, the cry of my heart to find rest in the ONE who has created me and loves me beyond wonder! As St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo wrote in his “Confessions” regarding his faith in the Triune God, “Our Hearts are Restless Until They Rest in You.” However I or you who read this understand that dominant LIGHT force and healing energy, it can be the cry of our hearts to be daily transformed by such gracious LIGHT freely given. 

Not "I Was" or "I Will Be" but 'I AM" - The Eternal Present, the NOW!

What I love MOST about my Higher Power is that I am not expected to be anywhere but where I am! I am accepted by THE GREAT I AM and empowered to slowly move in the healing direction I should go. I am freed up by the truth that there is only NOW, the PRESENT, and my God lives with me in this present. I no longer  hide in shame from the past nor paralyzing fear of the future—one day, one moment at a time, one daily miracle of living at a time, doing the next right thing.

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“Oh God, however we understand You, give us the desire to desire what is best for our souls and our eternal good.”    Amen.