I heard from 'Jack' last week, I told her. "He's doing really well. Working. Sober. Bought a car. Sees his dad and his sons regularly. He's really happy."
She was delighted to hear the news and then said, "I hope you said, 'job well done' to yourself."
I paused. Smiled and laughed -- it was a shadow laugh. A nervous exclamation -- it wasn't me doing it, it was him my underlying thought -- and replied, "I will now!"
"That's good, because you are the one who cared enough to get him into Choices. You are the one who kept caring about him, even when he wasn't caring about himself. You played a role in where he is today and you need to celebrate that."
In "A Return to Love" Marianne Williamson writes, "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."
What is it that frightens me about claiming I played a role in one man's happiness?
It is something about myself I have witnessed often.
Several years ago I worked with street youth. For nine months we met once a week and wrote a play together. I then brought in a director, stage manager, and other professionals and working with the youth, we staged the play as part of a concert I produced to raise funds for an agency that works with street teens.
A couple of years ago I was at a business function and a young man came running across the room, grabbed and hugged me and told me what a difference I'd made in his life. "You changed my life," he said.
I laughed and denied it. You did that, I told him. You made the choices that changed your life.
He was one of the youth from the play. Now in his late 20s, he's a father, a husband, a home owner, a 'success story'. He showed me pictures of his family, his dog, his house.
"You encouraged me to find my voice. You gave me a stage on which to use it." That's what I heard this young man tell me -- and I didn't' want to claim it.
I'm claiming it today.
I often hear from people how selfless it is to do the work I do at a homeless shelter. it's not. Selfless. I don't do it out of selflessness.
I do it so that I can be me. Working at the shelter enriches my life. Working with those street teens years ago, enriched my life. Helping people helps me be true to me. It helps me fly.
In "Make the Impossible Possible" founder and CEO of Manchester Bidwell and the Craftsman's Guild in Philadelphia, Bill Strickland writes, "I have an unshakable belief that each of us has not only the potential to live a rewarding and purposeful life but also the responsibility to do so. It's an obligation we bear as human beings, but it's also the source of our greatest potential."
This morning, over at Joyceann's Peaceful Legacies, she wrote a blog, Mothering an Idea. In it she writes about almost killing a beautiful idea she had created because of self-doubt. And then, the idea was given wings and she realized how she needed to nurture her ideas, not douse them with her fears.
I'm with Joyceann. I have an idea that all people are worthy of living rich and vibrant lives. That everyone, no matter their background, socio/economic status or heritage have the capacity to be great. And I believe it is my responsibility to do what I can to make it happen.
And my playing small doesn't make it possible.
Bill Strickland also writes in Make the Impossible Possible.
"Success is something you assemble from components you discover in your soul and your imagination. Authentic success, the kind of success that will enrich your life and enlarge your spirit, the only kind of success that matters, comes from knowing and trusting the deepest aspirations of your heart. If you live that way, in harmony with the real needs of your spirit, then you can't help but craft a life that will automatically make the world a better place for everyone who lives in it, and, incidentally, you will dramatically increase your chances for success on all levels."Today, I claim my role in changing lives. I claim my need to be part of lives changing, opening up to possibility, opening up to their greatest potential.
I like feeling like I'm making a difference. I like knowing my difference counts.
So, here's my challenge for you today -- Are you willing to claim you make a difference? Are you willing to quit playing small, to quit minimizing what you do to make the world a better place? Are you willing to live large?
If you answered yes to any of the above -- Get doing it! Claim your magnificence so the world around you can shine. Let your brilliance light up the world!