…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 other people don’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 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 are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
-Marianne Williamson from the book Return to Love, Quoted in Nelson Mandela’s 1994 inauguration speech.
Nelson Mandela died today. That makes me sad. Not because I knew him or that I think death is escapable but because to see a man strive for freedom and speak to the point of death is what the world needs more of these days. He was a voice for the poor and unseen, this mistreated and underprivileged. Fair. If I hear one more time it’s not fair I have to share my part of the pie with others I could scream or throw up. It saddens me to watch some times. And even more saddens me to watch Christ followers these days fight for rights but forget that humanity was God’s priority and poor humanity was his most talked about subject. But I’m reminded and inspired by the life of Nelson Mandela.
It’s interesting to live in country with many South Africans, and ones that don’t necessarily respect or like Nelson Mandela. They fled their country out of fear and safety. I spent five measly weeks there so I can’t expect to understand the complex layers that surround Nelson Mandela. But this I do know, he said many wise things and some of his life was downright worth copying.
He figured out the core of bullying is fear and bullies aren’t always big boys in the school yard, but government officials, respected leaders and the most unlikely church goers. He spoke to the freedom that silently empowers people. The freedom to be you and not apologise for yourself or hide it. That single courageous act releases others to be who they were created to be. We need people that will do that but also loud, humble, brave voices to lead the world in that like Nelson Mandela did. Regardless of what camp you are in, you like him or despise him, he helped right a wrong. A human life, regardless of the colour of skin should not be treated un human like. A human life should be free. Free to vote. Free to not steal and kill because of their poverty. Free to give their children a better life.
I hang out with a group of women who are brave and trying to live their real selves. Not as many might know them like they do Mandela, but these women are of the same heart. We want to see women not culturally bound or fearfully bound. We want to celebrate one another not compare or cut down (tall poppy) each other. We want to scream you are doing good. We want to release other women to be who they are and are willing to go to the scary places ourselves so we can truly praise others. It’s a small group of us but it’s revolutionary. We want to call the best versions of each other’s good out. This group of women graciously let me teach and lead them, yet allow me to learn from them, cry and be real. I want women to not be bound by gender or church culture traditions that are absolutely not biblical but just tradition. I want women to sit at the tables where they work and have influence because they are talented and educated and trained.
Nelson Mandela’s death solidifies for me more strongly than before that I will keep fighting to see women free, I will not be scared of criticism from women and men I love and respect, and keep speaking against tradition but loudly, quietly and silently speak that women roles don’t have to be what they always were. Like many world leader’s death I won’t forget this day or this moment when I put a stake in the ground and said I will move forward because people thought Nelson Mandela was crazy and nothing needed to change or worse just wished he would calm down and be quiet. But now we (I) look back appalled and embarrassed at the state of the world before 1994. I don’t want to be left looking back at the now and say, “I thought it was normal, everyone was doing it.” I don’t want my future daughter or daughter in law to say why didn’t you do anything? I want to push what’s culturally, or churchy and say what’s human? What did Jesus say? He put the poor first. He put women in leadership and influential places when no one in that culture did, and he didn’t care about being fair but loving beyond what seems normal.