Who Are You Eclipsing Today?

Here’s the funny thing about the eclipse today: neither the sun nor the moon – nor for that matter, the earth – had anything to do with it!

Our sun has been stationary in our solar system more or less forever (for all practical purposes).  While the rotational orbit of the moon around it, and, in turn, the moon around us do alter ever so slightly over time, in terms of our lifetime and the lifetimes of our great, great, grandchildren, they are pretty much fixed.  In short, these heavenly bodies have not veered in any measurable degree from their prescribed path for millenia.

So how did one eclipse another?  They were just moving in their natural orbits and these orbits happen to cross paths.  That’s it.  In this case, the sun and the moon were staying in their lanes and today one completely covered the light of the other for those in the right place this afternoon.

One body completely overshadowing another.  Inadvertently.  Without the least intention.  Hmmm . . . got me thinking!

How often do I inadvertently overshadow other people?  How often does my presence, my persona, my agenda, or my sphere of influence crowd out or minimize the glow of others?  How does just being myself discourage those around me from shining?

More than once I have arrived at a committee meeting all prepared and ready to offer my take on a particular line item.   When the time came, I plowed into my material and presented a compelling argument for why we should go in such and such a direction.  Only to find afterward that not only did someone else have the same compelling argument prepared for this topic but in fact they had been looking to take more leadership in this organization and that would have been the perfect opportunity to start such a process; I not only took the spotlight from them but precluded the organization from the benefit of their unique gifts and talents.  Was I trying to elbow them out?  No.  I just didn’t realize our orbits would overlap.

This can happen in parenting (preventing your child from learning a skill because you’re just used to doing it yourself), in sports (always being the shooter/scorer simply because you’re good at it), or in any group setting (“I don’t see any hands raised in objection so let’s just go with my idea”).  If we’re not on the lookout, we can eclipse the healthy manifestation of all sorts of talent, passion, gifting, and intelligence – without even realizing it!

How do I avoid doing unto others what the moon is doing to the sun today?  Just two things!

Awareness.  It starts with being aware of the gifts and passions of those around us.  This is no easy task and takes great intentionality.  Some gifts are latent and need to be called forth.  Sometimes certain personalities are better at hiding these gifts than others.  And sometimes people just keep getting denied the opportunity.  Know what the people around you are eager to do, whether they tell you so or not!  And be aware of when these gifts might be best put on display.

Humility.  The only other thing needed is the willingness to get out of the way.  In some cases, an even harder challenge than awareness!  Everyone loves to shine, particularly if it’s something you’re good at.  Denying yourself an opening to do so takes an honest assessment of priorities: how important is it that I shine vs. that a job or task gets done by someone?  If your job is on the line, if you are desperate for a promotion, if you feel underappreciated or underutilized by your peers, maybe you need to shine!  This is quite possible.  But more often than not, we can take a raincheck and let the group or company appreciate another’s giftings, especially if they are already quite familiar with yours.

It would have been no skin off the back of the moon if it went around the sun instead of over it today.  But then again, it’s an inanimate object.  We aren’t!  We can detour from our default path to make way for the light of another to shine.  Why not?  It makes for a brighter world!

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