November 26, 2011

Fun House Mirrors



     Each morning when I get up I first turn off my alarm and then head into the bathroom.  We'll skip part of that journey for everyone's benefit but soon I end up in front of the mirror to wash my face.  It helps me wake up and well . . . it's just plain good hygiene . . . or so I've heard.  Every morning that mirror shows me exactly what my physical appearance is.  From my ever out of control beard, blue eyes, wrinkles, and hair that seems to have a few more white hairs here and there.  It's a perfect copy of my outward self.  Sometimes for kicks I'll make faces, stretching out the facial muscles and all.  When I'm done I pat my face dry with the nearby towel and I go on about my day.  

     That mirror is just stating the facts.  The image that we hold of ourselves in our mind however is more an image akin to a fun house mirror.  Maybe we're a think person but we're standing in front of the mirror that makes us look squatty so we think we're fat.  Perhaps it's the other direction and being emboldened with self-confidence you're standing in front of the mirror that makes you look skinny even though your BMI is well north of 40.  There's the big head one so perhaps we're think we're smarter than we are or again going to other direction maybe you're self concious about the size of your melon and you think it's bigger than it really is.  The point is that in all of these cases it's the perspective with which you look that impacts the outcome.  And non of them are at all accurate.  

     Understand that I'm a big fan of self confidence and a positive mental image.  To varying degrees though there could be missed opportunities in just flat out ignoring the truth that is staring back at you.  For example, I'm aware I have a weight issue.  To think that I don't and do nothing about it is foolish to say the least.  Now, I don't think I'm larger than I am and I don't let the fact that I'm overweight send me into fits of depression.  But I don't think I have the body of Ryan Reynolds either.  One day I will, but not yet.  <insert chuckle here>

     Everyday we should ask ourselves if we like who we are.  If the answer is anything other than yes then we need to take action to become that person.  If the answer is yes, then you have to accept all of the things that have happened in your past, embrace them, and know that they are a part of who you are.  There are tons of articles, books, lessons, etc; to be found on those who wake up and say no and their journey to turning the 'no' into a 'yes'.  I would take it so far as to say that there may be a bit of jealousy of the yes's on the part of the no's.  I know that when I used to say no I hated those who could say 'yes'.  I had no idea, until recently, that arriving at the point of saying yes would be easy compared to really accepting ALL of your life when you say 'yes'.

     If you say 'yes' then you have to accept that all of the events of your past, both good and bad, are a part of you and all hold equal importance as they are the ingredients that have brought you to who you are today.  Depending upon the path you've walked that could be harder to swallow than you'd think.  That means that the drug addict has to accept his decent into addiction as much as he has to accept the rise from the fall.  The downward spiral of addiction was just as much a part of his life as the meetings, the friends, his will . . . all of the things that brought him back.  Know that I'm not saying a person should "live" in that moment.  But it must be acknowledged.

    For me, I have been staring down monsters for the past month or so.  Able to put on a good front when needed, but inside I was being ripped to shreds.  So many things tie in together.  I had long since accepted things and thought that I had moved on past my father's death, the betrayal of my first wife, and an event that is so terrible I can't even speak openly about it yet.  I never realized how interwoven these 3 events are nor the weight they hold.  Please understand, in the sense that one has to "get up and move on" I have mastered.  I have counseled countless friends in these past 11 years and when applicable I can recall those moments and use them as a resource for understanding.  If you were to ask me 5 years ago or 5 months ago or even 5 minutes from now I will still tell you that I've "dealt" with all of that.  I don't carry anger, mourning, or hatred in my heart.  

     What I have done however, is built my own fun house mirror.  I can accept the positives that came out of those moments and see ONLY those things.  I refuse to acknowledge the other though.  So I'm getting half the picture really.  When I say 'yes' to whether or not I'm happy with who I am I am accepting my past as I want to see it.  Not the reality that it was.  To accept reality is to own my part in poor decisions, to own the pain, to own the betrayal, to own the death.  I don't want to do that, I want to ignore it, to turn the light off to that room of my past.  All the while I feel God (to borrow an example from a friend) calling me back to those moments, to turn on the light to that dark room and let Him shine His light of truth on those events so that I don't just walk in freedom (which I already have found) but I walk in victory and celebration.  For the past 11-12 years my life has been that of a ship sailing in iceberg ridden waters.  Oh there's been hints of things under the surface, now it's time to see just how deep that ice goes.  

     Another thing that I need to be fully aware of is that I'm not in this fight alone.  Countless others believe that we're standing with our backs to the wall, fighting the hordes of hell on our own.  First off it was never our fight to begin with . . . secondly if we'd stop and take a moment to look to our left and right we'd see countless droves of brothers & sisters fighting the same fight with us.  Each in our own battle, but all contributing to the same war.  This past week I realized that my mental mirror was not a perfect reflection of who I really am, fixing the mirror will take some time, but now i know it's flawed.  If you're in the same boat, don't go back to the moment and live.  But go back and let God shine His truth on the moment and learn.  

     My dear dear friend and brother, I cannot thank you enough for your words.  Here's to another day of staring down the barrel and choosing.