What Is Your Deepest Fear?
Originally posted 03/05/2009
In the movie Coach Carter a group of misfits on an inner-city high school basketball team are told that their deepest fear is they are powerful beyond measure. Months after watching the movie, I Googled the powerful poem by Marianne Williamson titled Our Deepest Fear.
I printed it out and handed a copy to my eldest daughter. She was home from college following her sophomore term.
Morgan is an extremely intelligent young woman and a gifted artist. I wanted her to read this poem and ask herself why she was not living up to her full potential. How could someone with so much to say and so much creativity flowing inside her, not grasp hold to the opportunities before her?
I desperately wanted and answer to why she wasn’t excelling in school. She had the potential to one day become anything she wanted to be. Whether it was an architect, lawyer, lobbyist, or art history professor? Career options we have discussed at some point and time.
She read the poem and smiled, then quietly explained that she did not have a fear of success, she just hadn’t decided what she wanted to be when she grew up.
Following in Her Sister’s Footsteps
Years later I gave a copy to my youngest daughter Shaunte. It was after a disappointing loss at a junior tennis tournament. She mimicked her older sister and assured me that she did not have a fear of success, either.
To humor me she posted the poem on a board in her bedroom and promised to read it every day.
Shaunte was born with the gift to play tennis. Like her sister, she was not fully applying herself as I thought she should. In my heart I believed she had what it took to be a Serena or Venus Williams, although I was no Richard Williams.
I explained to her that we are all born with a talent but it is up to each individual to define and develop that talent. She simply shook her head and said she understood.
No more than twenty minutes later, she ran down a long list of material things she will possess one day when she is rich. Of course, I asked where these riches will come from, and like her sister she exclaimed, “I don’t know, I haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow-up.”
Bringing Out the Best in Our Children
As a parent, it is hard to see the potential in your children and not be able to draw it out of them.
I did not have all the opportunities that my children have. I was never pushed as a child to excel at anything, to define what talents I had. So I promised myself that when I became a parent I would encourage my kids to pursue their dreams and I would support them along the way because like most parents we want our kids to have a better life than we did.
Don’t get me wrong I was blessed with wonderful parents and I love my parents dearly.
They were raised in an era where creativity was not promoted but hard work and respectability were. Trust me, they were there when I wanted to be a cheerleader, and then a model, and then a clothing designer. Now that I am a mother I realize they weren’t there in the ways I needed them to be.
Time Waits for No One
Time has moved right along. My eldest is now a college graduate, and my youngest finishing her sophomore year in high school.
I must admit there have been plenty of times that I have felt like a failure. A failure because I have not been able to bring out of them what I feel is their best. These feelings led me to do some soul searching. I have come to the conclusion that I had not led by example. I had not taken that God-given talent I possessed and defined and developed it.
My talent is writing, and my dream has always been to be an author. If you have visited my about page, you already know how I wrote my first novel in the late 1990s. I share how I procrastinated and put off trying to get it published. I allowed doubt, and yes, fear, to keep me from pursuing what I desired most. I believe it is that which I have taught my girls.
Not the opposite.
How Fear Defines Us
Yes, it is fear that has held me back for so long, but not the fear that Marianne Williamson speaks of in Our Greatest Fear. No, it is something far deeper than that. I am a true believer in God. I believe that He knew us before we were born. He knows our every thought and the desires of our heart. I also believe that what he has for each of us is ours to claim.
Yet, this is where my fear comes into play.
I began to wonder if my heart’s desire was to become a successful and notable author. But deep inside, fear stopped me from believing it could become a reality. So I tucked it away the same was I had my first manuscript.
Does Prayer Really Change Things?
Over time I began to question my beliefs and my faith. What if I prayed and believed that God had promised to grant me the desires of my heart? What if I had done everything I was supposed to do and in the end he did not hold true to what I believed was his promise to me.