The sun was shining brightly through the car windows as I drove along I-80 on my way home from conducting a workshop for high school teachers in the Poconos. Basking in the warmth of the sunshine and listening to some favorite CDs, I reflected over the past year and the thousands of miles I'd traveled to conduct numerous professional-development workshops throughout Pennsylvania.
I was happy with the number of institutions and professionals I had reached, and the agency funding me was also pleased with my outreach efforts, but I wasn't content. Hidden behind what others saw as a competent, successful businesswoman was a person who was disappointed in her progress and contribution to her community and church.
As I continued driving, I thought about what was preventing me from making progress in the "non- professional" areas of my life - areas that were just as important, if not more important, as my professional career. I made a mental list of the reasons why I wasn't willing to give back to my community and church: lack of time, not wanting to give less than 100 percent and too tired to do so, fear of personality conflicts, personal opinions of how things should be run, and a different type of vision that probably wouldn't be accepted. As my list grew, I heard some words of the song "Shadow" by Janis Ian that made me stop and listen:
Why can't my wings soar like yours
Why can't my span spread as wide
Maybe I've got too much left to hide
Why is it so hard to fly
as I watch you grab the sky
Maybe you've got nothing left to lose
©1997 Rude Girl Publishing Permission conveyed by Bug Music
I thought how it would be impossible for birds to fly with their wings folded or wrapped around them. Holding on to personal issues, past grievances, and personal insecurities can prevent us from spreading our wings and going forward in our desire to help community and church. Perhaps we're afraid that our ideas might be rejected, our convictions would ruffle the feathers of others, and a vision for new growth will be stifled. It's hard to spread our wings if they're all wrapped around ourselves.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Self-love is more opaque than a solid body. In patient obedience to a patient God, let us labor to dissolve with the universal solvent of Love the adamant of error, - self-will, self-justification, and self-love, - which wars against spirituality and is the law of sin and death" (page 242).
The key to unfolding our wings in order to move forward is admitting that Love, not ourselves, is the mover and shaker of our lives. God-love, not self-love. Mind, the intelligence also called God, guides, guards, and directs our actions for the good of all. God-will, not self-will. Losing a false concept of our identity allows us naturally and effortlessly to spread our wings to honor and respect the talents of those around us. We want to participate in and be blessed by them.
As I continued my drive home, my heart soared with a burning desire to become a more active member of my community and church. I felt impelled to pull the car over to the shoulder of the road. As I stepped out onto the berm, I could feel the wind and blue sky wash over me. Instinctively, I raised my arms outward and upward in joy and gratitude.
Anticipating God's guidance, I returned home. Within a couple of weeks, I was moved to apply to join a local church, after having agonized over this decision for more than three years. Soon after that, I felt led to call a woman to see if she would like me to offer a speed-walking workshop for our community, even though my physical endurance wasn't great at that point. Within one day of calling her, I was walking faster without any difficulty.
Losing "self-will, self-justification, and self-love," you'll find yourself soaring - and helping others do the same.