May 28, 2018
Afraid to Shine
I learned early, to hide my gifts. If one was discovered, I shied away from compliment, that is, until the gifts decided – with or without me, they would be. I write this now with understanding, but it came long after I’d been bruised, emotions battered, rejection a constant reality I could not reconcile. Why the cruelty? What had I done? Now I know, those who were cruel shared my confusion. They didn’t understand their behavior any more than I did.
I could not suppress my God-design, and no one knew the struggle. My young mind’s limited comprehension garbled words and stuffed them down my throat, into my chest, where self-denial had its genesis. I moved through life inside that haze, I mean maze, until I met Mrs. Gordon, the journalism teacher who stoked those words to life. Gentle encouragement squeezed them up and out onto thinly lined pages and some morphed to become colored pictures in my head, silent movies in which I was the heroine.
Years after, a brash, handsome boy expressed interest as they are wont to do but withdrew it just as quickly. He had no idea that he’d inflicted damage on an already fractured soul. But, I didn’t cry, didn’t complain. I’d found a place which I deemed safe, acquaintances no longer needed. Instead, I wrote and sang. I poured every emotion out on notes and vocal textures. People felt the words I crooned yet didn’t hear a thing I’d said.
It wasn’t until after marriage, at the start of pregnancy, that the crumpled, faded petals of my spirit furiously unfurled. As if supernaturally the life growing inside me was an instrument of transformation. I had an added purpose, to impart without inflicting harm on the child who I’d soon meet. As she grew, I looked at all the pieces I’d become and colored them, then glued precisely. Bit by bit a new, a stronger me, began a slow ascent. After all, that tiny person would depend on me to keep her whole. I didn’t know that purpose would become my lifeline.
All these years later, fragments of my brokenness thought long gone poked around, looking for their redemption. They were revived by some who judged, rejected, misunderstood – even ostracized. I crawled back into reflection, another leg of the journey, another lap of the race to be true to me no matter the circumstance.
Others sought to drown me in their own uncertainty, rejection, insecurities, pain. Their slivers, too, seeking to be redeemed. I had a choice, help them by responding in a way which served us (yes, us) well. Or, allow their shards to weaponize.
No one wants that war.
Now, I stand in my truth. I am who God says and cannot be another. If my being is offensive, let’s agree to part. No sense casting shadows on another’s heart. We all deserve to be. I must tell you, I won’t shrink to pacify. All I am is me, no longer afraid to shine.