You Are the Light of the World [a guest post]
From Cara: I first met Caroline Fowler at church many years ago. She sings with an ethereal quality, and would lead worship, drawing me into close communion with God. We would talk, as well, from time to time, about God and words and the words we use to praise God. Now, we are both in very different places. I am no longer a student, she is a wife and a mother. She writes a blog which makes me smile and think, just as our conversations do. I know that you will enjoy meeting her as well.
I got up early yesterday morning. I got my coffee and decided I would take a stab at the Bible. I read the familiar words, "You are the light of the world." That's Jesus, by the way, talking to OTHER PEOPLE. YOU are the light of the world. YOU. Jesus also says this about himself in other parts of the Bible. He calls himself the light of the world. AND THEN HE CALLS EVERYBODY ELSE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. I like to imagine what kind of people he was talking to, and I wonder if they felt like a lot of churchy people seem to feel today. Uncomfortable. Or like he probably shouldn't have said that. Because only God can be the light of the world, right?
Several years ago in a church camp-type setting, I listened to a group of people perform a song they had been practicing. It was beautiful and moving. Afterward, I found one of the girls and told her she had a really pretty voice. She clearly did not know what to do with this, so she nervously blurted out, "Praise God! Praise God!"
A few years later I was at the church I attended singing songs with the kids. I was teaching them sign language to a song called "You are the Light of the World." When we sang "you" we pointed to everyone around us. After a few verses of this, one of the teachers, a young man, asked if we could please sing instead, "JESUS is the light of the world."
Why are we sort of taught that we should shine, but not TOO brightly? Or are we taught that "shining" means trying to convert people to our religion? Or are we just plain scared of ourselves, so we hide behind false humility?
"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."
Boom. Marianne Williamson, people, Professional Shiner.
My understanding is that God is Awesomeness. And it seems like God wanted to spread Awesomeness around, so God implanted The Awesomeness Chip in people. We are programmed to be Awesome and to create Awesomeness. It's just who we are. And guess what? Having The Chip means we are all co-owners of Awesomeness. We all hold the rights to it. So if we do not give God verbal credit for every act of Awesomeness (which would be impossible to do), God will not be mad or sue us. It belongs to all of Creation.
So if someone notices your Awesomeness, you can just say "Thank you." Or if someone makes you feel like you aren't channeling your Awesomeness in a "spiritual" enough way, be on guard. True Awesomeness can't NOT be spiritual. And if someone makes you feel like you are TOO Awesome and your Awesomeness is drawing too much attention, try saying: "Hide it under a bushel--NO!" And maybe sometime when you're on your knees praying to God to shine light somewhere... Well, maybe you should remember that YOU have the light, too. And maybe you should get up and get help from some friends if you need to, and go shine it already.
I'm singing the song and pointing all around me at all of you:
You are the light of the world
You are the light of the world
So shine, shine, shine where you are
You are the light of the world.
Caroline Fowler is married to Ben and has three little boys, ages four and under. She is good at changing diapers, drinking coffee, and ignoring stains on clothing, and bad at folding laundry, answering her phone, and exercising. Her favorite color is rainbow. She likes singing, family bike rides, and children's books, and dislikes emptying the dishwasher and trimming her children's nails. Something about motherhood that she finds fascinating is the way it is both exceptionally ordinary and exceptionally sacred. She blogs at carolinefowler.com.