This post is one that I pray my words come out right. That you are moved in the same way that I was. That you read and you are nothing short of inspired.
This weekend I did not expect to be pushed or challenged. This past weekend at a retreat, I was anticipating a spiritual, but relaxing, experience. I planned to be be refreshed, not frightened.
Then our speaker asked us: “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” I tried to answer this, but I honestly couldn’t think of anything. Most of the things I want to do are just not feasible right now, because I’m still a student without credentials (or money). I didn’t believe there was anything I “feared” (other than the obvious, tragedy related things).
Then she read us a poem that turned that thinking upside down…
Wow. How many times have I thought, “who am I?” Who am I to make big changes or to try to influence others? Who am I to do things that will bring attention to me? Who am I to think what I say could make a difference?
In recovery from anorexia and onwards, I was happy to simply be alive. I didn’t want recognition or attention. I was content with just being. This was fine for a little while… but then I began to minimize my story and experience. I felt like it was either irrelevant to those around or too typical for those afar. I felt like standing out made me further from everyone else. Who was I to think I was something special?
But now I see how making myself small did nothing for those around me. My belief that what I had to offer couldn’t change the world led me to feel inadequate which led me to inaction. Allowing myself to get comfortable being “average” made me believe I couldn’t make a difference.
By minimizing myself, I actually minimized the value of the people I encountered. Maybe I can’t change the entire world, but what if my story and experience could change the perspective of just one person who is suffering? Wouldn’t my story and experience then be automatically meaningful, because who knows what that person will go on to do or be?
It is my light- the potential I have to be powerful- that is most frightening. Once this capability is realized, this light demands itself to be shared.
I am currently about half through my journey to become a registered dietitian nutritionist. When I finally realized this career path was the one I absolutely had to take, I was very nervous. With my history of anorexia, even in my recovered state, I feared that people would think I chose this career path because I was still “disordered”. Yet, when I told people what my plans were, they often said things like “yes, that makes so much sense”, “you have to much knowledge to give”, or “this will be a great opportunity to help people going through what you did.”
When I heard these responses, it scared me. I didn’t want my career to be involved with eating disorders. I wanted to help people with things like heart disease, diabetes, and food allergies.
After this weekend, however, I can’t deny the itch I have to help individuals heal their relationship with food. I can’t deny the passion that burns inside me when I think of all the people still in the chains of an eating disorder. I can’t pretend that fire is not there.
It’s a beautiful thing to see how the things that once caused suffering go onto make good. Our suffering, our experiences- those things that make us who we are have the potential to bring a light of hope into the life of someone still stuck in the middle of it.
We have it in us to make the difference- we were born “to make manifest the glory of God that is inside of us.”
Go on, it’s okay to recognize the greatness inside of you.
“As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
Thanks Amanda for letting us think out loud.