Powerful Beyond Measure Part 3

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. – Marianne Williamson

I’m just going to come out and say it so I can get over it. I’ve got cowardice coursing through me. I am afraid of my light just as Marianne said. I don’t want it to be this way. I want to say that I always shine my light. But somewhere along the way, I got infected by the illusion that light shining is offensive and something that should be apologized for. And even though I know that this thought is foolishness of the highest order, I continually find myself having to work hours and hours just to get myself to the point where I can shine just a small portion of the light that I was willing to shine when I was younger.

When I examine my thoughts trying to figure out how I got myself into this situation, I recall that my biggest challenge is the fear I allow to influence me regarding how my light shining might affect those closest to me–most especially my wife and children. Earlier in life, people who were in close relationships with me often told me that I was the type of person that belonged alone because my worldview was incompatible with the “normal” way of approaching love and life. Ultimately, I take to heart the two great commandments of Jesus to love God and neighbor as myself. But here’s the funny thing about that. Most people think that is some Pollyanna pie in the sky BS. Christians included. Maybe even more so.

So when I come with that talk, it can be offensive. And most especially the loving self part. There’s nothing someone who dislikes you hates more than you liking yourself despite whatever efforts they might make to diminish you. So when you try to shine your light in the face of their darkness, they tend to double if not triple down. Sadly, I let that get to me. Not because I care what people think about me. For the most part I don’t. What I do care about is the person doing the hating. I often find myself trying to protect people from putting out their negative energy toward me simply because I am trying to help them avoid experiencing the return of those actions upon themselves.

If I told you some of what I’ve seen come back on people, after we’ve had a contentious encounter that I subsequently released, you’d think I was lying. And it’s not because I’m so special. I’m nothing. It is just the way things are. As the Bible says, we reap what we sow. That’s what some other people call Karma. So how this effects my light shining is that I sometimes experience myself as almost like a bug zapper who has deep compassion for the mosquitoes, flies, and other insects that get zapped by the light when they come at me. I know that is not the best metaphor. But I can’t think of anything else. I could give you some examples, but because of the impersonal nature of this phenomenon, these examples are not very important to the point I am trying to make. All I am trying to articulate is that fear of this phenomenon is the excuse my ego makes for why I have to put in so much work to convince myself to shine my light.

It has literally taken me over two months to get to this point in trying to explain this “fear of the light” idea because my ego has been busy playing hide and seek with me, making excuses for why I have to stay in the box I constructed for myself based on this ignorant fear. But I am committed to “picking up my cross” and finishing this post and the rest of this series whether I can perfectly articulate my thoughts or not.

Fear for the Label-Makers
So here’s what I’ve figured out. As I mentioned before I use other people as my excuse for diminishing my light or limiting my shine to certain circumstances. I’ve told myself that I do it because I think I am protecting them from retribution for trying to keep me from shining. On some level, I might be full of crap. But there is definitely some sincerity there. I hate seeing people harm themselves. I don’t know why. But I know it really gets to me. And especially when it is based on false paradigms. I feel compassion for people who, as Jesus said, “know not what they do.” I recognize that in many instances, they are unconsciously reacting to some programming that they were given from someone–often someone they believe loved them or someone whose love they crave.

A friend made this clear to me when one day, she was in deep reaction toward me. As usual, I was in the process of forgiving her even as she was shooting rage arrows at me. A day or two later, she had some negative things happen in her experience. She was a person who was sincerely trying to get a grip on her reactivity and was aware of the karmic (reaping and sowing) nature of life, so she came back to me and apologized. I told her, I understood, but I was curious about why she reacted toward me so harshly when she knew that I hadn’t really done anything to deserve the shade she was throwing at me. What she shared with me was astounding.

She essentially said that she was trying to push me out of her life because she realized that I might love her unconditionally and that she could not handle that. She elaborated on it by saying that her mind told her that she had to choose between accepting my friendship and the rest of the world that she knew. Her thinking was that if I really loved her than that meant that no one in her life ever really had. She explained that she had spent most of her life begging to be accepted by family and friends meanwhile never really thinking it would happen. So when I seemed to accept her for who she was, it made it hurt more that others who knew her longer, and theoretically should have been closer to her, hadn’t. So her solution was to try to get me to reject her too so that her world made more sense. When I didn’t she lost it.

When she told me this, it was a double edged sword. On the one hand, I appreciated the enlightenment and how well she explained what happened. On the other end, it got to me because I now was able to look at past experiences I had from girlfriends breaking up with me to getting jumped by many kids in my neighborhood and understand what had likely happened. And yet, I also felt trapped by this awareness. Did I love people and let them work out their crap on me or did I love them and tell them to get their shit together? Or was it a balance of the two? Or was it situational? I didn’t know. I still don’t know. What I do know is that I misused this awareness and let it cast a shadow on how I shine.

I realized that people fear what they cannot put in a box or label. The way I was showing up in the world was triggering folks for a lot of reasons. But the major one was that they couldn’t figure out my box or label. I knew it wasn’t my fault. But I didn’t really think it was theirs either. So what was I to do? Trying to figure out the answer to that question is how I came up with the not so brilliant idea of “conditionalizing” my light shining. I just couldn’t figure out another way. After a major heartbreak some years ago a friend tried to cheer me up with the same advice others had given me–that perhaps I should consider remaining single for the rest of my life. “A woman will never feel safe with you.” He advised me. When I asked why, he gave me two reasons.

  1. It is obvious that you really want to love everyone in the world. That’s great for church. But impractical for “real life”. A woman wants to feel special–like they are the most important person in the world to you. If you keep treating everyone you meet like they are the most important person in the world, it won’t matter how faithful you are, they will feel unsafe with you–as if they can be replaced by almost anyone.
  2. You think like a child or a puppy. Some people are shitty. No matter how much you understand why they do what they do or “forgive them for not knowing what they do”, they won’t appreciate it and they won’t learn. The only thing they will do is think that you are someone they can take their shit out on without consequences until either you get tapped out or they kill you. Puppies and kids are the only ones who keep loving shitty people. No one wants to be around an adult like that.

Like my other friend, his words were both enlightening and confining. He didn’t even know my exes but he hit the nail on the head. Everyone I dated told me the same thing–that they didn’t feel special with me. It was like he was a fly on my relational walls. The only thing he didn’t realize was that I did know how to walk away. But only when I could see that the person was bent on harming themselves to get to me. At any rate, this too confused me in terms of how and with whom I could shine my light. I saw no choice but to choose some boxes and labels that I could deal with so that it might make it easier for other people to deal with me. I had become afraid of my light.

Time to Shine
One of the roles that I took on in order to make sense to myself and others is a pastor. In this role, I am “supposed to” be forgiving and it is okay for me to say out loud that my desire is to “Love God with all of my heart, soul, and mind and love my neighbor as myself.” In fact, it’s even okay for me to “think as a child“. That’s one of the things I love about the role. But there are other things about the pastor box and labels–especially with the complexities of what is and is not considered Christian by the most highly advertised narrative–that I allow or use as an excuse to keep me from shining outside of certain conditions. All the while, I am telling people to shine their lights, to trust that nothing can separate from the love of God that Christ makes manifest. I sincerely trust this for others and logically get it for myself. But every time I “conditionalize” my light, I have to acknowledge that I am denying what I know to be true–that if there is a God of unconditional love, then there are no conditions under which our light cannot shine. And yet…

Take This Life and Make It Light
About a year and a half ago, I wrote this song called “Take This Life”. I wrote it to share with the kids I was teaching confirmation to. I was telling them that rather than write conventional faith statements, they could express where they were on their faith journey any way that they wanted to. I told them how when I was their age I wanted to express myself through rap. But at the time, the church I belonged to said rap was inherently evil regardless of what you rapped about. It took me many years to realize that wasn’t true. But, by the time I did, I thought I was too old to start rapping. Well you know kids. They threw my hypocrisy in my face and told me that if I meant what I said, I would write a song and perform it at our church. Long story short is that I did it. But when I did, it unlocked a whole bunch of feelings I had buried so deep that I was able to convince myself I was past them. I’m not going to get into them now. But, suffice it to say, it came down to me seeing where I was not shining fully. See song below.

After performing that song, I was invited to perform it at a few other places and one person started talking to me about doing shows. All this energy started flooding into my mind–more than I knew what to do with. I started writing as fast as I could. Songs started coming to me. But I didn’t know how to fit all of this into my structured life and I started trying to figure out how to keep it at bay. But before I did that, I wrote the song that is below. It was an answer to the question, “What will it take for me to become the person who can shine my light as fully as possible?”

I don’t know how these people’re walkin’ ’round here like they don’t know what’s going on.

It’s time to wake up man. They lyin’ to you.

They lyin’ to you
Man they lyin’ to you x4

To be the new me
I had to kill the old me
To wake up from this lie
Bruh, this is what they told me
Wake up from the dream
Death ain’t nothing but a bee sting
Hallelujah what we sing
From the moment we see that real thing
Wake up
Here’s the lie
Someone said that we’re gon’ die
Got us slavin’ wondering why
That is something we don’t buy
We’re eternal
Towering infernos
Hot but not consuming
Shine the light but will not burn you
This isn’t scary
This is extra ordinary
Get our power from the Source
Then we act like tributaries
Feel the flow
Follow where it goes
Be the energy
Then remember what you know
All One
And the Void
Who we are can’t be destroyed
Silence drowns out all the noise
Darkness knows it has no choice
We’re that power
In that final hour
Illusions we devour
Death itself, we make it cower
They can’t kill me
Holler if you feel me
Who I Am was never born
So they’re never getting near me
Here’s the truth
We don’t need your proof
Mustard seed of juice
And the mountains will go poof!


To be the new me
I had to kill the old me
To wake up from the lie
Bruh, this is what they told me
Wake up from the dream
Death ain’t nothing but a bee sting
Hallelujah what we sing
From the moment we see that real thing  X2

Pedro Silva original song – New Me

As crazy as it might sound, I recorded this on my phone in a grocery store parking lot (This is only half of the song.). Not too long after, I had a chance to perform it at another church. Soon after that, I met a guy who produced some songs for Eminem and D-12 in Trader Joe’s. When he heard it he, told me that I was ready and that the message was clear and that it was something people needed to hear. As soon as he told me that, I punked out completely. Fear of the light strikes again.

As I tried to figure out why him telling me this frightened me, I realized that in part it was because I didn’t want to confront the thought that I could have done this sooner. It’s kind of like what my friend told me. His acceptance had me feeling negative feelings toward my past choices to hold myself back. But it also revealed to me that it was time to get over this. Hence this series.

As I proceed through this, I hope that what I share about my struggle to keep shining helps others shine their light as well.

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