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We are elated to present a blog post from our soon to be REAL Women Northern Virginia Lead Facilitator, Rhonda Ragsdale. She asks an incredibly important question of each of us. Will you choose to shine your light or dim it?
Experience it here and share your thoughts by leaving us a comment
​or emailing us at info@realwomenrock.org. 

I was awakened from a sound sleep with this thought on my mind to shine or not to shine.  To the world, everyone sees a 5’ 11’’ over 300 pound confident black woman, not realizing that there is a constant internal struggle…  To shine or not to shine.  I have the type of personality that can take over a room, and I’ve been told over the years that I am too much for some people, or people don’t know how to take me, or I can blow up a meeting when I participate.  Even then, I am intimidating.  Because of these responses over the years, I’ve chosen to be quiet and dim my light to let others in the room be more comfortable or shine brighter.  When I did this, others were more comfortable, but I was miserable.  Miserable, because I was hurting on the inside or fighting to not say something or ask something.
Fighting because I wasn’t being myself.
Each time God opened a door of promotion or opportunity for me, I would enter the door or accept the opportunity gingerly hiding the true me because I didn’t want people to be intimated by me.  See, that is the word I hear most often to describe me – INTIMIDATING.  Who wants to be known as intimidating? No one. So I continued to dim my light to make others more comfortable.

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Then one day, I encountered a poem, “Our Deepest Fear,”
by Marianne Williamson.  The words of the poem are:

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’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us;
It’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we’re liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

The words of the poem hit me hard in my spirit and my soul was renewed.  I never realized that by dimming my light, my shine, I was possibly hindering others from shining.  God made me 5’ 11’’ with wonderful brown skin and I can’t change that.  God gave me this personality and a voice recently described as a lioness’ roar.  The Father of the Universe gave me all of this, who am I to discount it all, hid it, or not let my light shine brightly?  With God’s permission, I have learned to walk into a room with my head held high (not arrogantly) but with confidence in who God made me to be.  I speak when God says speak, I ask questions when required, and I shine brightly.  Because I have learned that when I shine, I not only strengthen my confidence, but I encourage others to shine too.
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I’m not going to say that there aren’t moments that I find myself
taking steps backwards and dimming my light, but when this happens, the words of “Our Deepest Fear” and Matthew 5 come to mind and I remember that I am to let my light shine so that men can see good works and glorify God.  I thank God for revealing this truth to me.  I thank my sister friend circle and this awesome sisterhood of Real Women for encouraging me to shine brightly and not dim my light.

Remember my sisters, we were made to shine in the confidence of who the Father of the Universe made us.

God has given us permission to shine.

Shine my sisters, shine.

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