Monday, July 09, 2007

A Great Mis-Quoted Quote

Sunday I heard a wonderful talk delivered from the pulpit. The speaker was an energetic, entertaining girl who is new to the ward. I enjoyed her style immensely, and I loved what she had to say. She shared the most amazing quote I've heard in a long time that really got me.

"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 enlightening about shrinking so that other people won't feel unsure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone."~Nelson Mandela's Inauguration Speech.

Wow, I couldn't believe Mr. Mandela had said that! I began to hypothesize about the truly great men and women throughout the ages who had been called of God, whether inside the LDS Church or not. Until I discovered Mr. Mandela did not say those words.

At first, it seemed he was only quoting someone else. But no, no, that wasn't it. In
fact, he has not said those words at all. It's a myth that he said them. The real mystery to me is, why would someone make that up? Why go to the trouble to put words in the man's mouth, even citing the source, if he never in fact said them? That I don't know. But I did find out who, in fact, did say them.

Her name is Marianne Williamson
and she's the author of several books on spirtuality and is the spiritual leader of The Church of Today.

However, why is it, that now that I know it was her who said these great words, they suddenly mean less to me? Like I needed someone truly great (read famous?) to say them for me to give them credence? Thing is, I totally, wholeheartedly, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die, believe in these words. It's just that now I don't feel special quoting them. I'm a quote snob. *sigh*

I want to repent though. Because these words have great value; these words are TRUE.

Sometimes people are embarrassed to be around me. They've heard me sing at every Stake thing. They've seen the beautiful little baby outfits I make when I give them at a shower. Many of their friends have family portraits I've taken hanging on their living room walls. They sit beside me during Relief Society when the lesson is on talents and I can feel them shrinking away from me. They say things like "Well I'm not talented like you."

Thing is, I'm not talented like YOU. I have many observable talents, it's true; and I've worked hard at developing those talents. But I'm really bad at just knowing when someone needs a dinner brought in, or even how to serve when I perceive service is needed. I tend to stand around wringing my hands at ward funerals or the like because I don't know how to just jump in and help. I admire all the women who rush from one thing to the other with such confidence in what they are doing.

I could go on and on about what's wrong with me, about what talents I'm lacking. And I usually do. But that's in part why I love this quote. Why should I try to make myself smaller, just because my outward talents might make others feel insecure about themselves? God gave me these gifts. I am so thankful to Him for them, because they bless and enrich my life. What a thankless girl I am if I can't pay homage to the God who created me by using the talents He gave me.

I also love this quote because it says what I believe and our church teaches, that we are all children of God and we are all blessed with gifts. Most often I think we have in our possession a multitude of gifts if we desire them. However it does take a sturdy shovel and a strong back sometimes to find that which we seek. But isn't it that way with most things?

So I guess I've talked myself into accepting the value of this quote despite it's not having been said by Mr. Mandela. Instead, I want Ms. Williamson to know how thankful I am for this wonderful bit of wisdom. Maybe it's a good thing Mr. Mandela is getting misquoted so often because this important message is being shared with more people because of it. Ms. Williamson's gift for words and Mr. Mandela's gift for public accolade. Together, they allow for a sweet message to be heard, to be shared, and hopefully, to be adopted into the hearts of many.