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
This week has been Weird. Capital W. You know that feeling where you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you’re unsettled and uneasy with the world? That was me for the first half of this week. I felt my Light challenged, dampened, oppressed. And then things got beautiful. Stick with me on this quick journey — I’ll explain! In this blog post, I will:
- Talk about a moment of walking through darkness;
- Share how the universe answered this darkness through light-filled, life-affirming synchronicity;
- Four quick tips on how YOU can hold onto your light and shine even brighter when others try to dampen your spirit; and
- Why it’s important to speak up for the light so that others can shine their own light brighter.
A moment of darkness
“I don’t cry every time someone tells me God doesn’t exist [so] I think gay people can probably handle being confronted,” one person wrote on my Facebook wall after I made a comment in defence of women’s rights, racial diversity and gay equality (more specifically, the psychological dangers of gay conversion therapy).
Someone else replied, “I wonder if progressives truly believe in their own rhetoric about being open-minded…For many [gay people] who went in for therapy there wasn’t much negative impact.” (Side note: People who go through conversion therapy face almost nine times the rate of considering suicide.)
I was surprised how unsettled I felt to have these types of attacks happen at and around me. “This happens off in the distance, at arms length, in other people’s worlds,” I thought to myself as I watched my faith be weaponized against me and others. It felt dark and ugly and hurtful. I wanted to respond in a similarly dark and ugly way with anger, which is a perfectly human response. I felt my light flicker and dim. But the sun also rises.
This is why people are condemned: The light came into the world. Yet, people loved the dark rather than the light.
– John 3:19
Affirming our light
I woke up the next day to private Facebook messages from those who felt too uncomfortable to post publicly. Comments like:
- “Words from allies like you go so much further than anything a LGBT person could say to the Evangelical community.”
- “Voices like yours are so pivotal to steering us towards a unified and uplifting society.”
- “Thank you for recognizing where you’re privileged and doing something about it.”
A pastor joined the online conversation, preaching, “The gospel isn’t just good news for me and the folks like me. Live out the reconciliation in Jesus that celebrates difference and obliterates the things that needlessly divide us.”
And as people spoke out in light and love, I felt the darkness recede.
A moment of synchronicity
What happened next is what Carl Jung called “meaningful coincidences.” Long before all this happened, I’d made a bunch of plans for the week. One was with a health coach and entrepreneur. We met and talked for over an hour as he enthusiastically shared his vision for surrounding himself only with positive people who support each other in every way possible (or what I call, find your vibe and attract your tribe!). It felt good to be in that positive build-people-up kind of energy after seeing people tear each other down.
Then, a friend shared with me a very intense, yet grace-filled journey where this friend’s family was on the receiving end of the very same words and attitudes filling my Facebook wall. We dove deep, deep into what it means when so-called “social issues” become your own issues and you’re walking in someone’s shoes. “This is grace,” I thought to myself. “This is light and love conquering darkness.”
And on and on the universe’s synchronicity went. Chance encounters. Random meetings. For every angry comment, for every mean word spoken, a positive conversation made with grace and acceptance seemed to balance it out.
Why being a light worker matters so much
I take the Buddha’s teachings to heart when he teaches on non-judgment and non-reaction. Eckhart Tolle warns against feeding the pain-body and continuing the ego’s cycle of pain. But as I watched this week unfold, I realized that while we should never respond to pain with pain or fight darkness with darkness, we must absolutely respond with all the light and love we can muster. Like Marianne Williamson says, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from darkness, our presence automatically liberates others.
We cannot be idle and stand by. We owe it to ourselves and to others to shine that light bright. Shine that light when it comes to equality and acceptance. Shine that light on gender issues. On homelessness. On child poverty. On everything.
And when we encounter darkness, how do we keep our light glowing and shining? How do we keep others from stealing our energy ? Here’s what this week taught me:
- Never judge why someone is saying or doing what they’re saying or doing. Don’t get pulled into the judgment trap where we think we are somehow elevated and someone else is lower. We are all on a journey and we are just getting a glimpse of a specific moment in someone’s specific path, and we have no idea where our paths are leading each of us!
- Stay engaged with positive energy. I love that the universe delivered these random encounters that showed me the power of the light. Now, I will be more intentional about seeking it out. Iron sharpens iron. A candle pushed against another candle makes both burn even brighter. Surround yourself with people who are pushing for the light, who are fighting for that burning soul-glow.
- Speak up for other people’s light. This is a hard one for me, but as I learned this week, people are watching. Our words and our stories either build people up or tear them down. There is no in-between. C.S. Lewis said it well when he wrote, “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that [every person we meet] may one day be a [god] or else a [devil]. All day long we are…helping each other to one or the other of these destinations.” If you aren’t fighting for someone’s ability to shine, if we aren’t liberating them to glow big and loud, we are diminishing their power. And the entire world is a darker place if we extinguish each other’s flames.
- Thank others whenever you see them trying to shine. Speak light into them. You cannot give away too much of your light and you will not run out. Spread that energy. Pour into those who are fighting for love, and help them fend off any darkness that they may feel creeping in.
The light of the world brings peace to every mind through your forgiveness. You are the means God has appointed for the salvation of the world.
– A Course in Miracles