Like millions of others I was captivated by the Jaycee Lee Dugard interview with Diane Sawyer this week. After 18 years of isolation, abuse and outright torment that started when she was kidnapped at age 11, she could be forgiven for being bitter and broken spirited. In the interview, Jaycee was unbelievably composed and at ease with her situation. She displayed a sense of inner peace that most of us, who have suffered far less, only wish we could experience.
Jaycee’s story is the mirror image of the Casey Anthony situation, full of positive outcomes and restored relationships. However both situations ask challenging questions of every one of us about forgiveness, justice and hope. Jaycee raises the bar for all of us.
No doubt Jaycee has her difficult moments. However I was incredibly inspired by this woman and offer her as an example of so much of what we describe as spiritual qualities; inner peace, poise, forgiveness, kindness and wisdom.
Maybe the feature that stood out most for me was her authenticity. She seems at ease with herself. Her book is called A Stolen Life and the mind boggles at the things that were stolen from her; her innocence, her childhood, her family, her development, her sexuality, her freedom…Yet in the interview she said something that stayed with me. When asked if she was angry, she said
I don’t feel like I have this rage inside me that is building… I refuse to let him have that. He can’t have me… [if I felt rage] it means that he won..….he didn’t get all of me.
We could all take this last phrase to heart. People and circumstances can steal things from us; our possessions, our ideals, our opportunities. However there is a part of us that no one can touch, a spirit that no circumstance can dampen.
This is the true self, which so often gets buried under the dramas of life. For most of us these dramas are minor, like career setbacks or injuries. For others like Jaycee, the dramas are substantial, like abuse or major illness. The lesson of Jaycee is that no matter what happens TO us, there is a part of us that can’t be taken FROM us or damaged. It is always there, and the journey to authenticity is to recover that true self. It is the most important part of you, and it’s not at all egotistical because it doesn’t desire anything other than acceptance for yourself and others. It doesn’t compete or compare, judge or divide. It wants only peace for everyone.
This true self doesn’t seek vengeance. It wants wholeness, for everyone. It understands that hatred eats at YOU more than the person you hate. It recognizes that anger is only one letter short of danger. For you! Your authentic self lets all resentment go, surrenders all hostility and enjoys the freedom of a light spirit.
Jaycee Lee Dugard is a truly great human being, an inspiration to all of us to be at ease with who we are, no matter what happens. It’s easy to spend time trying to fulfill an impossible image of greatness, when all you need to do is be more yourself. To paraphrase a famous Jewish proverb, when you reach the next world, God will not ask you, “Why were you not like Moses?” Instead the question will be, “Why were you not more yourself?”
You, right now, not after some spiritual makeover or earth shattering enlightenment; you as you truly are, without any pretence and with the layers of drama put in their rightful place. This is your true greatness.
In the words of Marianne Williamson,
Who are you not to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? 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. You are meant to shine, as children do. You were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within you. It’s not just in some; it’s in everyone. And as you let your own light shine, you unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As you are liberated from your own fear, your presence automatically liberates others. (Marianne Williamson, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles)
Just as Jaycee Lee Dugard’s example has liberated many, so your authentic essence is a gift to the world. Dare to be yourself today. Shine! You are beautiful, or if you break the word beautiful down it reveals authenticity’s mantra- BE YOU TO THE FULL!