What’s holding you back?

I’ve been thinking about this recently and wondering: What’s holding me back? Back from pursuing one of my dreams…making it into a goal instead of merely a dream?

There are lots of answers I could give–quick and easy answers. But I’ve been trying to get deeper into that question, because it impacts not just that one situation but the way I approach much of life. Often I have thought that it is fear of failing. However, a quote from Nelson Mandela, used in his 1994 inaugural speech, has given me part of the answer.

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 frightens us most.

I think that often we sense the message that to think we can do something–and to acknowledge it–it somehow being conceited. But Mandela’s quote continues:

We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ 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 people won’t feel insecure around you. 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 all of us. 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 last sentence of his quote triggered another thought in me as well. The leader of my faith tradition brought a message to our denomination a few years ago that contained these words:

Collectively and individually you are loved with an everlasting love that delights in each faithful step taken. God yearns to draw you close so that wounds may be healed, emptiness filled, and hope strengthened. Do not turn away in pride, fear or guilt from the One who seeks only the best for you and your loved ones. Come before your Eternal Creator with open minds and hearts and discover the blessings of the gospel anew. Be vulnerable to Divine grace. (bold added)

It’s not so much fear of whether I can do something or not…it’s fear of being vulnerable. What will others think of what I’m sharing? Will they like it? Will they think less of me?

I’ve gotten over some of that fear; I’ve finally been willing to show some of my poetry to people I trust. I’ve been willing to acknowledge some of my music that I’ve composed. Now I’m trying to gain enough courage to make all of that more public–to let others see it (and use it if they want).

I’m still nervous…still scared. But I’m working on becoming more vulnerable…mostly because I’m beginning to truly believe that it really doesn’t matter what others think of me. What’s important is what God thinks of me–and God loves me…completely and unconditionally.

Can we talk?

I think the question in the title of this post is a valid one…can we talk? really talk to each other? really talk to each other about difficult issues? really talk to each other about difficult issues and not immediately get offended?

Recently I had someone unfriend me on Facebook because they disagreed with my perspective on a political issue. We hadn’t even exchanged words or comments about it–he had just seen one (or more) of my posts and decided that for his own sanity he needed to unfriend me (and others whose perspective is similar to mine).

I also have some friends on Facebook whose perspectives I totally disagree with. But I think there’s value in reading them–at least much of the time. It gives me insight into others’ understandings…helps remind me of the need to work together to try to find common ground. Granted, there are times when I simply skip past their posts because I’ve had all of that perspective I can take at that particular time. But if I refuse to listen to them at all, then I believe I’m missing some important conversation.

The Bible–the sacred book of my faith tradition–says in one place, “Come, let us reason together.”

To reason means to use “the power of the mind to think and understand in a logical way”…”the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking, especially in orderly rational ways.” When we reason together, we are all using our minds to attempt to think and understand.

None of us has complete understanding of any one issue. That’s why we need each other…need to understand what each other sees in a particular issue.

Through the ages, our understandings have built on knowledge that has been gained from individuals who are willing to reason together. Sometimes that reasoning took place in the church…in monasteries. Sometimes it took place in mosques…in Arabic centers of learning. Sometimes it took place in universities. And yes, unfortunately, sometimes those who were willing to reason together had to find places of protection because others were not willing to listen to them or to reason with them.

I may not always like what I hear from someone else…and vice versa. But without dialogue–true dialogue–we will find ourselves stuck in rigid positions. That helps no one…so…

Can we talk?