i read an inspiring book this week for the first book club meeting i organized (which was a great, fun success, by the way!). the book was the invention of wings by sue monk kidd, and it had so much to offer me, so much with which i identified, interestingly enough. you see why i say interesting in just a second…
it’s the story of two women in the 1800s, one a slave and one a reluctant slave owner. one, a slave in her body. one a slave in her mind. it is a story about slavery and women’s rights, but more importantly, a story about all the barriers that are placed in front of these two women – as a slave and as a woman – and how they struggle to break free. both women believe that they are destined for more than the lot they have drawn. and they believe that nothing should stand in their way. throughout their lives, individually and together, they break down those barriers that keep them from being who they believe they have been called to be. all along the way, they might never have imagined all that they would face, endure, and experience, both good and bad. but, they never gave up.
this book got me thinking about a lot of different things – especially the fight to follow your dream, the fight to be free to be who you are. i’m pretty sure i know who i am. and i’ve had my share of barriers placed in front of me that get in the way of me living the life i feel called to live, but none so large as the barrier that the church has placed in front of me.
if you have read my blog before, then you know my struggle with the united methodist church because i am a woman married to a woman. because of that, i am not deemed fit to be an ordained minister – though i have completely all other requirements. there is even a rule that says that it is against the church’s law for me to become a minister.
now, when there are people saying that you are not worthy, it may be tough to fight on. the easiest thing is to shrink back into place and accept your current situation. but, the brave and amazing thing to do is to be aware of who you are, listen to your soul, and challenge the status quo. the challenging thing to do is to follow you dream, your destiny. no. matter. what.
but to do that, we have to know who we are. we have to listen to the voice and the light within us. we have to believe in ourselves – and our dreams. and we have to love ourselves exactly as we are.
and that’s not easy to do. and that has been especially evidenced by my february photo challenge. as you may or may not remember, this month’s photo challenge was all about selfies. all about learning to love ourselves exactly as we are… in all the moments of our life. for some people, that has been very hard, and they have shied away from this photo challenge. totally understandable. for others, it has been something of a challenge that they have connected with. no matter whether you participated or not, it is so very important, in my opinion, to love ourselves – to take care of ourselves, to appreciate who we are, and to not be afraid to put ourselves and our dreams out there. tough to do? absolutely!
there is a quote that you may have heard before, but it completely sums up this desire to be who we are, but the fear to follow through with it. it’s not so much that we don’t believe in ourselves maybe, it more about being afraid to admit how amazing we are:
“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.”
all i can say is that i hope that i have the courage of sarah grimke and handful (the characters in my book), when it comes down to believing that my dreams, my goals, and my calling are worthy. i hope that i have the fight within me to follow my soul throughout my life, wherever it may lead me. and, while i have had barriers placed in front of me, i have tried to break them down. i have worked to create my own path, instead of just accepting what others say i can and cannot do.
but, mostly, i hope and pray that you will find the same energy, spirit, determination, and courage to love yourself enough to believe that who you are exactly who you are supposed to be. everything about you is a gift to the world. and your dreams, well, they are your calling and the way you are meant to make a difference. besides, my friends, we were born to fly.