Are you Playing Small?

Nov 23, 2005Write!

***It’s been reported that this is not a Mandela quote. I wanted to let you know that I actually found the quote, not off the Internet, but in the book Practicing the Presence of People by Mike Mason. It is found on page 111 and is a quote taken from A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson, p. 188-9.***

I read this quote from Nelson Mandela, said in his inauguration speech. It stirred me. It surprised me. It convicted me.

“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’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to 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.”

Wow. I’ve always thought it best to shrink back, to downplay certain aspects of myself so others wouldn’t be insecure. But I’m seeing more that most of my life is lived in fear, particularly fear of what others think. Could it be that God shines His light through a confident me, rather than a shrinking away me? I wonder how many of us play small because we think that’s more holy. Yes, there is a place (an important, rudimentary place) for humility, but there is also a confidence that feeds true humility. It’s a confidence that comes from knowing glory rests inside us like a gift.

If God has given us such an amazing gift as light and power and joy and a renewed, redeemed life, why do we hide like his gifts are things to be ashamed of?

Glory, God’s glory, resides in my chest. And when I share that, God’s enigmatic freedom beckons many. Oh to be more confident and assured!

I don’t know about you, but I’m stirred to play large. Playing small is living a tentative, fearful life. I’d rather play large, risk being misunderstood, so that more glory will seep out of me, not less.