Last Sunday in kids’ church, we sang the song, “This Little Light of Mine.” A simple kids’ song, but I was struck by how profound it is. There are many layers of meaning and application in its simple lyrics, but one meaning – in particular – resonated with me.

I stood looking at these young kids, knowing that soon, each of them would hit the white rapids of insecurity (also known as puberty or junior high). Pretty soon, they’d be tempted to hide their little lights, rather than letting them shine. Countless people who have walked the road ahead of them have done just that. And most of those have never regained their security or let their lights shine fully and brightly.

Recently, I went through a period of wanting to hide my light. I was getting battered at work because (in retrospect) I think that a colleague felt threatened by me. In that time, a perceptive friend sent me an encouraging poem that I have posted here to exhort others who are tempted to hide their lights or who have never really let them shine to begin with:

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. “

~ Marianne Williamson