“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.” -Marianne Williamson from “Return to Love”
This is a quote I have carried with me for years. When I am searching for motivation in almost any part of my life, a part, if not all of it, has meaning. Reading it ten times in a row, a different part will stand out each time. I read it slowly, and let each phrase sink in. Sometimes when I read it or think it to myself, I hear my grandmother’s voice, because this is something she would say to me. In fact, she wrote this in a card to me when I was in college, and that was the first time I remember hearing it.
When I found out I was pregnant with Hadley, I was so excited. And I knew the whole time that it was a girl. When I was very early along, my mom and grandmother (Memaw) gave me a picture for Christmas that had hung in my nursery when I was a baby. The story goes that my great-grandmother gave the picture to my grandmother when she was pregnant with her first (it is a baby in a pink blanket), and my grandmother had a girl, my aunt Lollie. Then my Memaw gave it to my mom when she was pregnant with me (there were 5 boy grandchildren before me, they were desperate for a girl), and my mom had a girl. So when they presented me with the picture at Christmas, I had no doubt I was having a girl. I also knew that I wanted to name her after Memaw, so her middle name is Jean. We wanted her to have a strong tie with Memaw, and a model for how to live her life. Memaw was always sending me cards with verses and I would call her when I was lonely or frustrated and we would pray. Those are the things I miss most about her. She gave the best advice and was always so genuine. I never doubted that she was just saying something I wanted to hear. It was always crazy when she would come visit for the weekends, but those times we would hear her and Hadley reading books and laughing in Hadley’s bedroom are priceless. They would play baby dolls and talk, and Hadley was always so happy when she was spending time with Memaw.
It has been hard to explain where Memaw has gone and why we haven’t been able to see her, but I just keep telling her that she lives with God now, and when it’s our turn, we will get to see her again. Last week this was not a sufficient answer, and she wanted me to find an airplane or helicopter that could take us there.
In raising my daughter, I am always trying to build her confidence and self-worth. I can see that even at three years old sometimes she gets discouraged or shy. I’m sure my son will do the same things, and I refer back to this quote to try and encourage her. Not that I recite it to her, but I tell her she is a child of God, and she is meant to shine. I tell Hadley that she is brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous, because that is how we were created. So that other people would see her being amazing and think they could be amazing too. As a relatively newer mom, I haven’t dealt with school issues or body image issues yet with her, but I hope that if I can build her confidence now, not conceit, but confidence and pride in herself and her morals, then maybe whatever problems arise she will at least be able to forge through rather than back down. Same goes for boys, like I said, I just haven’t been there yet. I try to think of things Memaw would say, she was always such a great teacher to younger kids, and they adored her. I can imagine her telling Hadley, you’re playing small does not serve the world. The glory of God is in everyone, and when you let other people see it, they will let be more confident to let theirs show too. When you smile, they smile.
If we can make this so a three year old can understand it, then we as women, wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends should be inspired by this too. We should not live minimally, but in a way where others say, if she can, I can. Who are you not to be an amazing wife, talented mother, supportive sister, fabulous friend? If we can live up to or surpass our potential, someone else might be encouraged to do the same.