Friday, January 05, 2007

On Feeling "Less Than"

This blogging business has been difficult for me because I have always been sensitive about others reading what I write. I love to preach, but really dislike it when someone says, "I'd like a copy of that sermon." That means I have to get my manuscript into a manageable form that someone might actually be able to read and understand- besides me! But the true reason I hate it is that I have no control over who reads it and cannot know how it will be received. I'm much more comfortable "letting the sermon go" and letting the Spirit take charge of how it's received when I'm in the pulpit, but I have this hang up about my manuscripts. I have this mental picture of someone I don't know reading one of my sermons and thinking, "Man, I feel sorry for her congregation!" I am in constant fear of being "less than."

I just began blogging in September and it challenges me for much the same reason: feeling "less than." I have to admit to being a bit awestruck by the women (and men!) in the RevGal blogring. At times it's downright intimidating! For the most part, I've just dabbled. I'll do the memes because they are pretty non-threatening and fun. I'll comment on someone else's blog because I'm piggy backing on something the author wrote. I'll post a cute story or some song lyrics. But I haven't really risked sharing my thoughts, feelings or insights on this blog, even though I'm using a pseudonym and only a very few know who I am.

I often have my best insights when I'm just about to fall asleep at night. Last night, as I was just about to doze, the thought came to me, "What if the original sin is this belief that one was 'less than?'" Eve enjoyed living in the Garden with an intimate relationship with God, but was able to be convinced that her life wasn't enough. I was taught as a child that our most basic sin was our pride, our desire to be more than we were created to be (i.e. God.) But couldn't it also be our tendency for many of us to diminish our personhood and be less than God created us to be? (Friends, in light of my topic, I am struggling against the urge to add, "I'm sure I'm not the first one to think of this." and "I'm sure others have said this before and more eloquently" So, I'll just add it parenthetically!)

I'm going to be more mindful to use this blog in a way that will help me to grow as a woman and a pastor. That doesn't mean that I'll stop doing the memes or leaving smart-assed comments on your blogs! But I will risk sounding out my half-baked, as well as brilliant, musings and insights for all to read!

In writing this, I'm reminded of the most famous thing that Nelson Mandela never said:

"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 were born to
make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is 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, A Return to Love. (Often incorrectly attributed to Nelson Mandela.)

7 comments:

Linda said...

I've met you. There's nothing half-baked about you. But, it's probably not all that important what I think. I have similar struggles, and can honestly say blogging has helped with it a lot. I'm totally with you on the issue of sin. Feminist theology was started largely by a woman who dared raise this same issue (I'll dig out the article if you're interested). Judith Plaskow wrote a book that expanded on the idea, critiquing Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich and their concepts of sin. So what if the idea came to others first? Most ideas aren't really all that original. What's important is that it came to you...that out of your own experience you are able to say what is true, without another defining it for you. That is brilliant, I say!

I'm looking forward to reading whatever you put out here. That's one of the great beauties of blogging.

Iris said...

I have read precious little Feminist theology. Wasn't looked upon too highly in my former denomination. When I became Presby, I immersed myself in the dead white guys because I wanted to pass my ords!

I have Fiorenza, et.al. on my bookshelf, but haven't read them yet.

hipchickmamma said...

oh iris!

i hope this isn't too hokey, but as i saw that you went to iliff, i just about croaked and thought that i needed to just email you directly but as i got here, couldn't find your email. adn thought i'd just post a quick message on your blog and leave you mine.

but then i began to read what you wrote. i'm with lind--it doesn't matter who thought it first, you wrote about "less than" as sin eloquently and profoundly.

as someone who struggles with this same issue, upon reading it my eyes swelled and i seriously thought that we are kindred spirits. (i had an online weirdo blogger stalker before and i certainly hope that i'm not doing that to you)

thank you for sharing. have a blessed weekend.

btw, iliff was my first choice but it never came together for us to move back to denver. i keep thinking perhaps for my phd if i make it that far!

seminarymamma@yahoo.com


"What if the original sin is this belief that one was 'less than?'"

Melissa said...

Thanks for your words and taking the risk. I relate to the fear of being "less than". It colors what I blog, what I preach, most everything. It is a horrible self-imposed prison sometimes.

Keep up the honesty and risk-taking. We certainly benefit from it.

Blessings -
Melissa

ppb said...

I think Mandela quoted it in a speech, which is how he got the credit. And from this short essay, it's clear that you are a fine writer. Let it out from under the bushel!

divine cupcake said...

I love what you have to say about the original sin is one's belief that they are "less than." Very powerful! Thank you :)

Sally said...

couldn't it also be our tendency for many of us to diminish our personhood and be less than God created us to be?

Oh yes I really think you've got something there... keep on sharing those late night thoughts.

Peace and blessings