The tunnel is dark and cold. The darkness presses in with such intensity that it feels alive and threatening. The cold, too, seems a living thing – a cruel monster with icy claws that crush any will to fight for freedom from the tunnel. Every second in this place feeds a rising horror. The black of the space is more than darkness; it is the total absence of light, and, without light, there is no hope. There is only terror, despair, and a growing suspicion that there is no escape – that any light at the end of the tunnel is indeed an oncoming train that will bring even greater injury and pain. Perhaps giving up, curling into a tiny ball on the floor of this hell, and seeking oblivion is the only option. Perhaps I’m not worthy of anything else.
I’ve been in the tunnel. I thought I would die there. Instead, miraculously, I found a light more glorious than you can imagine. How is that possible?
Simply put, I sought the light – not a glorious and powerful light. I was too wounded and weak to believe that was possible for me. With my last tattered shred of hope, I searched for a sliver, even a dot of healing light. I began setting my clock for 5:00 AM rather than 7:00 AM to seek the presence of God. He seemed so far away; it seemed I didn’t deserve His love or grace because I must be truly bad if my life had come to this. I sat in the dark, still and silent…and the light came. God, who had been there all along, reached out to me and wrapped me in His love and light. He erased the words of “not enough” and “I must be bad, a truly rotten apple, to deserve the horror that my life has become” from my mind and gave these words. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13. Encouraged and hopeful, I searched for other words of love and promise. I found many, but a poem by Marianne Williamson changed the course of my life and my work forever. It seemed a call to shine a transforming light across the globe.
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’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We are born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.
As we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
What would this world be if we chose to be our best selves – if we chose to “shine as children do”?
Think about it.
As I sat in the silence that day that I realized God is always with me, He gave me a gift that changed me forever. He gave me the power to see myself through His eyes rather than the eyes of a broken and exhausted human. Seeing with better eyes made it clear that the tunnel is a function of taking in the hurt that the human world inflicts and believing that, because I am unworthy, I deserve to suffer. Those messages are lies, and I saw that I always have the power to choose to reject them. I know now, once and for always, that I am enough.
I am a person just like you. I often say, especially when I’ve done a particularly brilliant job of procrastinating, that “I’m the biggest flake in the box.” Yet God created me to be so much more than I can even imagine; He created me to shine as “children do”. If God can free me, He can free you. Break out of that dark, soul-crushing tunnel and, SHINE! Your light will transform the world…and you.