As I began to process through the writing of this article, I hit a wall. While this is not unusual, this wall felt different. Talking through my SFD (shitty first draft, as Brené Brown calls it), with my husband, he offered up an honest and fair suggestion: Change your topic. As I sat in the struggle, asking my Father, God, what He wanted me to do, my spirit felt unsettled. Unsettled with the idea of changing topics and more unsettled when I realized what the wall was. It was not about the topic but rather I was attempting to offer from a place I myself have been afraid to go.
Over the past few years, on four separate occasions, I have been extended an invitation. One that I have been too fearful to accept. The invitation to research the meaning of my name. Throughout my childhood, I felt a sense of shame and embarrassment with my name. I remember hearing the sound of giggles from classmates when the word ‘robin’ would appear in reading books. I remember hearing the sound of ‘tweet tweet’ when the song Rockin’ Robin would play in music class. And I remember the feeling of my heart sinking when the school secretary read my last name and realized who my sister was. The one who was “so beautiful.” In these moments, I began to script what I believed to be the meaning of my name: One who is to be quiet, plain and unseen; To be less than; To be unqualified to offer anything.
I am the proud wife of a very handsome, intelligent, and successful man. He is an officer, and a pilot in the Air Force. Throughout our almost fifteen year marriage, I have had the honor of standing by his side at a variety of functions and gatherings. I joyfully pick out my favorite outfit or fancy dress, depending on the occasion. I fix my hair and makeup just right, and I walk out the door feeling confident in who I am. But then something happens to me when I am introduced as myself, as Robin, and I am asked a very simple question: What do you do?
When I was teaching, or in the thick of it with babies, I could pose my way through my answer. Today, as a full time atmosphere coordinator, on a journey to pursuing the more and in deep excavation of my story of identity, it throws me into a tailspin. My mind becomes a whirlpool of thoughts, feelings and emotions. It is truly a scene of chaos with alarms going off and my inner voice screaming, “I’m a daughter of the King! I’m His Joyful Surprise! I’m fiercely loved!” But when my mouth opens up, the words, “I’m just a mom,” come out.
The Real Fear
I know who I am to my Father, but I need to know who I am to me. To Robin. While part of my fear comes from a place of disliking my name, there is a part of me that fears my name won’t mean anything special, unique or powerful. Or at least I thought that was my fear. About a week ago, a dear friend sent me a quote that caught my breath and brought my fear into the light. My fear is not that my name won’t mean something. My fear is that it WILL.
“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 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 are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
When we know who we are to the Father and who we are to ourselves, I believe that is the moment when the glory of God is manifested within each of us. It creates a powerful light that penetrates and dismantles the wall of fear and brings to life our true selves. It disarms the power of the culture to compare and to pose. The culture that screams be better, go bigger and do more.
Will you join me in accepting the invitation? Will you honor the world with an introduction of the gift of YOU? I’ll start. My name is Robin and my name means famed; bright; shining.