“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?”
Those of you who follow me on Twitter (@JamesPrescott77) or Facebook will know that earlier this week I had a quite an intense experience which I cryptically hinted at on my tweet/status updates. I said at the time and have been building up this week to sharing more about it today, and so here I am.
To explain it fully needs some context, which begins with the quote above. It’s actually part of a longer quote by author Marianne Williamson.
Quite thought provoking isn’t it?
The reason why I’ve quoted it will become clear, but the story begins with me. I always like to be quite open in how I write, and the truth is, for some reason, I’d been pretty down on myself recently, and pretty grumpy. There have been some difficult circumstances going on do with family, but nothing too serious that I should be as grumpy as I’d been feeling. However, for one reason or another, I’d been feeling a bit down. I’d had a sense of disillusionment and discontentment, a feeling where you feel a bit down about things, but have no idea what’s making you feel that way.
You ever felt like that?
Those times when you feel down but don’t know why. All reason is telling you that what you’re feeling is illogical and makes no sense, that life is good and you have no real complaints, but you can’t help that cranky negative feeling inside.
Now before I go any further, I’m not talking about clinical depression – that’s a whole different ball game, one I’m not qualified fully to discuss, but totally different to what I’m talking about. I’m also not talking about the kind of down which leads to things like suicide. Those are much more serious and not what I’m talking about at all. The feeling I’m talking about is more akin to disillusionment, negativity, frustration – the kind of thing people really don’t like you to show in public, but which a lot of us, I suspect, often feel deep down.
In my life when I’ve felt this it’s usually linked heavily my past, from messages fed to me from everyone around me when I was a teenager, which told me that my story was pre-defined – that I was destined to fail, never good enough, and that there was no point in me trying at anything, because I’d always fail, and that absolutely no one was to be trusted 100% – because no matter how convincing, they’d always let you down somehow, or it would always be part of some big wind up, no matter how utterly genuine they appeared.
This is a tape I’d played and pretty much lived by throughout my twenties, until I joined my new church, where everything had changed, and a new story was being told about me – God has been transforming me, showing me who I really was, helping me mature and grow in knowledge and understanding, of myself and Him.
Although this was positive, it was head growth, not so much heart growth. Earlier this year though I had made a fateful decision, to let Jesus fully into my heart – into the most vulnerable places, both good and bad. This was a difficult choice to make, but at the time – and in hindsight – was and is absolutely the correct one.
Since I made that choice it’s been a battle, very much a spiritual battle, as Jesus has exposed things about me, helped me be honest with myself about who I am – and who He is, and begun the process of healing and restoration of my heart. In the process, I’ve grown much deeper in my relationship with Him, so although a painful process, it’s been very much a process that has allowed me to grow.
About two years ago I got baptised, and around that time, God had told me that whilst I thought I was worthless, He said I was worth everything to Him.
Last Sunday He told me nothing had changed. I still thought deep down I was worthless, and I was still worth everything to Him. I knew this to be true.
Although my sense of worth has increased considerably, there is still that little voice, the old tape, that plays deep down telling me I’m just not worth it and not to bother trying to change.
Which brings me to the event that many of you have been asking about.
One evening earlier this week I sat down and reflected on all this, and thought and prayed about what I needed to do next. I knew that I had to do something, that this grumpiness and disillusionment and frustration with myself was not healthy. I knew what God had said about me, I knew in my head all the positive things in my life and all the blessings I had. But I just couldn’t connect to them, I couldn’t see myself as God did. Although on the surface I’d been saying one thing, in my heart I was thinking to myself, just as Marianne Williamson wrote, “Who am I to be brilliant, talented, fabulous?”
I needed to do something. I prayed, but eventually ran out of words. God had heard them all before.
I sat in silence, and as I did this, I decided to do something. I started mentally to move out of myself and look at myself, really look at myself and my life.
I saw a man still relatively young in his mid-thirties, relatively healthy and who has lost over a stone in the last two months, in a career-track job with great opportunities for promotion & self-development, who owns his own flat.
I saw a man in a thriving and growing church, where has many close friends and feels a real sense of belonging, and where he has opportunities to lead, serve and use his creative gifts, and be discipled in his faith.
I saw a man with creative gifts, gifts of public speaking and leadership, who whilst very much at the beginning of the journey into using them, nevertheless has talents and gifts others would love to have and opportunities to use them.
I saw someone with many friends from all walks of life – from within and outside church, who is loved by many people and has a close family around him.
I looked at this person and realised that just taking all these factors into account, this was someone I’d love to be. A man with talents, opportunities, blessings & gifts I’d love to have – just not making the absolute most of them.
He had control over all of these opportunities and talents, and wasn’t making the most of them – he had the choice of how to use them and how much time to give to them, and opportunities to invest himself in them, but wasn’t taking them.
In his heart he was living a story of failure, laziness and underachievement. He wasn’t trying all the time because he didn’t realise what he had and what he was capable of.
I started to think if I were this man, I’d probably make more with the opportunities he had.
I then remembered that this man was actually me. James Prescott.
That I had – have, in fact – a great life, with great friends, talents and gifts, and a living relationship with God, part of a growing and thriving church community, and loved & valued by many people, and much to be thankful for.
I have a job a lot of people would love, with opportunities other people would really love to have, and I’m not making the most of them.
I have plenty to be joyful about and celebrate, and although my life isn’t all it could be and I have my fair share of issues and problems – as we all do – I’m comparatively very lucky.
In fact I would say stepping out of myself may well yet become one of the most honest, life changing things I’ve ever done. It’s changed my whole perspective on who I am and who I could be. It gave me hope and confidence of what might be possible in future, and that the old stories are just fiction, lies, messages the enemy is trying to send me to stop me becoming who I’m meant to be.
We often talk about the devil, or the enemy. There’s lots of theological discussion about him. But he’s real, without doubt. I have had moments of doubt or questions about God. But there’s no doubt that there is a force in this world that doesn’t want us to succeed, that doesn’t want us to become who we were meant to be.
And if that force exists, then that should only increase our confidence in the reality and truth of God – and that Jesus was exactly who He said He was, and that can only give us confidence.
It’s often easy to think everyone else has it easier than us isn’t it? That’s how our world works.
We often frame ourselves in comparison to others, usually in a negative fashion, and when we’re pushed on it we say “But you don’t know my circumstances”.
Step outside yourself. Take a look at your life.
The communities you are part of.
The friendships and relationships you have.
My hunch is that no matter how bad your life might seem, and how bad circumstances are, that you’re probably much better off than you realise. And you might have great opportunities, which you’re missing because you’re blind to how blessed you are.
This is a mere glimmer of God’s perspective. He stands back and sees the whole of our lives, from start to finish. He sees is in complete detail, every hair on our head, every thought, every word, every action. He has confidence in us – He must do, Jesus told us that we were to spread His gospel, and would do greater things than Him.
But every perspective we have is merely a shadow in comparison to God’s real perspective, which is beyond our imagination.
So step back a moment and look at yourself – and realise what you’re really capable of.
Now I’m not for one minute saying this will immediately make life easy or get rid of all the insecurities, doubts and bad habits you have. They are still battles you have to fight – but once you’ve seen who you really are and can be, it’s possible to put those in their proper perspective a whole lot more easily.
Of course, it’s a process. Life is a journey with God, a journey into God, a journey ultimately that is meant to be about God, and about our becoming how he always imagined us to be, how we were created to be. And that is beyond both our perception and our imagination.
However, as you are probably thinking, doing this is scary. Because of course our biggest fear is not that we aren’t good enough, but of just what God could do with us if we gave Him the chance.
One of my best skills has sabotaging my life to ensure that I don’t reach my potential – leaving things till the last minute, subconsciously and accidentally on purpose, to ensure they won’t be my absolute best.
It’s something that I don’t want to be good at. In fact, I’d love to be rubbish at it, in fact better yet, not do it at all, and channel that energy and skill set into doing something positive and constructive. But there is that fear, that we all have, of what we could be – which is where God comes in. You see, part of faith is trusting that God knows who we could be and what we could do, and being willing to work with Him and participate in that, and trust that He will help us become capable of whatever He has for us.
Trusting not just that God will take us through our darkest hour, but also through our biggest success and achievement – which is likely to be different than any of us can imagine.
Which brings us back to the quote from the beginning, which we now read in full:
“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”
Now that’s more like it. We are all meant to shine. We have no right to feel down on ourselves – and there’s nothing wrong with being brilliant, gorgeous, talented or fabulous.
That’s how we were created to be. And God doesn’t make mistakes.
Do you get down on yourself?
Are you aware of all the opportunities and blessings you already have or that are open to you?
What action can you take today to make the most of them?
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