I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Monday, August 11, 2014

You Don't Need To Be Loud For Your Light To Shine

I talked about the grocery store incident at church yesterday and I thought y'all might be interested in what I had to say:

A few months ago, I stopped by the grocery store on my way to volunteer at Soup Saturday.  There was a woman driving a car in the parking lot and I couldn’t really tell what she was doing-I waited a little while and then parked.  After I parked, I realized I had taken her spot.  I felt a bit embarrassed, as I usually try to be nicer to people.  Before I could apologize, she lowered her window, looked at me and yelled, “At least I’m not fat!!!”  I was stunned into silence.  Really?  That’s the first thing she thought of when she looked at me?  I was hurt.  I have done a lot of work on my body-image and self-esteem and still I must say it cut me to the core.  Fatness should be just a describing word, but we all know what it really means in this society-calling someone “fat” means calling them lazy, smelly, incompetent, ugly, an underachiever and I am none of those things.  I met this woman again when we passed at the doorway-I was leaving with two boxes of cookies and she was entering.  Holding the boxes of cookies, I felt embarrassed and like a cliché.  I wanted to prove to her that I am not who she thought I was-I desperately wanted to say, “These aren’t for me.  These cookies are for a church event where we feed people.  I help people, so don’t you see, I am more than a fat mindless-cookie-eating woman!”  But I didn’t.  I breathed deeply and kept on walking.  I prayed that perhaps one day fatness would not be the ultimate insult to this woman and that she could have a better relationship with her body.  Anyone that imagines fatness as the enemy and supreme insult must be very afraid of becoming fat themselves.  I know from experience that living in body fear instead of body-love is a horrible way to live.

I didn’t tell the woman why I had the cookies ultimately because I did not think it was any of her business.  The scriptures (Matthew 6) say to practice your piety in secret and I agree. I did not think it was right to brag about a good deed, as if it made me a better person, a more holy person, a more special person in the eyes of Godde.  I did not ultimately think it would be right to talk about something good in order to bring someone down.  I had wanted to use them as a means of justifying myself, but I comforted myself, instead by reminding myself that I am already justified.  We are all already good enough and I think that is one of the messages that Jesus tried to tell people.  When we truly believe in our own goodness, then we do not need to justify or impress other people.  We don’t need to lift ourselves up, because we are already lifted up and we know it.  We can let our actions speak for themselves.  We can be quiet in our good work and be filled with a much greater inner joy and peace than if we were loud and famous.

I am good enough-you are good enough.  I do not need to boast or brag about my good deeds to others to bring attention to myself if I am already satisfied by what I have, which is an abundance of peace, joy, and love.  Sometimes I have to remind myself of these gifts that I possess when others try to take them away from me and that is okay.  As Marianne Williamson says in A Return to Love,
“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 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.”
     We don’t need to be loud for our light to shine, we just need to follow in the way of Jesus, remembering the blessed people that we are. 

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