Our deepest fear, writes Marianne Williamson, is not that we are inadequate. Or that something will happen to our children. Or that we’ll be raped or murdered or robbed.
Those are genuine fears, of course, but she says our deepest fear is quite different. It’s that “we are powerful beyond measure.” We aren’t frightened of the darkness, but of the light within us.
We are brilliant, talented, fabulous. But fear of our greatness holds us back. We are children of God. Our “playing small doesn’t serve the world.”
How do God’s children act? We play big. Dream big. Accomplish glorious things. We peer within ourselves and see immense power just waiting to be unleashed.
The only thing we have to fear is denial of just how incredibly awesome we are.
THE ONLY ONE HOLDING ME BACK
I like what Marianne Williamson writes, not because it’s true, but because it’s such a beautiful, clear expression of the lie we want to believe.
There is nothing more appealing than someone telling me I can be whatever I want to be, do whatever I want to do, accomplish whatever I set out to accomplish. No boundaries. No walls.
The only one holding me back from greatness is me.
This is the creed we want to believe. It’s expressed in countless memes, made Oprah a household name, and built Joel Osteen’s mansion. It’s the good news that the only bad news is denying how incredible we are.
The gospel of self-help is a seasonal gospel. It works well in the spring of life, when you’ve still got plenty of hope-filled years ahead of you.
cBelief in ourselves is the devil’s antifreeze mixed with Kool-Aid.
It works well in the summer of life, when you’re a little tired and just need some cheerleading. It’s all well and good to tell a robust 20-year-old that she can be all she wants to be.
But try telling that same woman that same message five years later when the doctor informs her in the 7th month of her pregnancy that her baby no longer registers a heartbeat. Try telling her that her greatest fear is not that her baby is dead, but that she is powerful beyond measure, to dream big, to accomplish glorious things.
If you do, I hope she slaps you in the face.
Seasonal gospels are no gospel at all. Unless the good news we have to speak is good news for everyone from newborns to 100-year-olds, from NFL players to quadriplegics, from Rhodes scholars to people with Down syndrome, then it is not good news.
Seasonal gospels work really well when people aren’t suffering. When they’re not burying their loved ones. When they haven’t yet hit rock bottom.
Belief in ourselves is the devil’s antifreeze mixed with Kool-Aid.
WHERE IS HOPE?
The problem with the power of positive thinking, with the creed of You-Are-Powerful-Beyond-Measure, is always the same: it locates hope within you instead of outside you.
Look inside yourself, it says.
See the light within you, it says.
See how amazing and awesome you are on the inside, it says.
But God says, No, look to me. Look to me when you are healthy or sick, wealthy or poor, when you’re celebrating a baby shower or putting a tiny coffin into the earth.
Look to me. I am your joy and sorrow. I am your hope and healing. I am not some distant deity far in the sky. I am your Father, your Dad, the one who loves you personally and intimately. You are my son, my daughter, my beloved.
Stop looking inside yourself. Start looking to the God who has become one of us, who loves us when we feel unlovable. He holds us when we’re sinking into oblivion. He is our comfort in cemeteries, hospital rooms, and divorce courts.
This God, this Jesus, is not a seasonal Savior. He doesn’t pop in on occasion to tell us how incredible we are. He is not here to inspire us to greatness. He is here to make us truly alive by sinking us into his death and life.
There we discover—much to our amazement—that everything we’ve been searching for our whole lives is not in us but in him. All this time we’ve been looking inward for hope and help. But it was always outside us, in the God who made us and became one with us.
We find ourselves by losing ourselves and finding in Jesus our true identity, true meaning, true hope for a future.
And in him our deepest fears, the real fears, are answered with, “Fear not, for I am with you. Whatever happens, I will never, ever let you go.”