It had been several challenging months. There were multiple obstacles, trying to balance finishing doctoral school in Washington, D.C.,taking care of my family, trying to be a solid leader/pastor, figuring out how to launch a 501c3 with other churches. There were lots of different things “tugging” at me and “balance” was not something I was practicing.
I was “too busy” to take care of the fundamental things. I’d forgone healthy eating and going to the gym. Yes, I noticed that I didn’t really “enjoy” looking in the mirror. What I failed to realize was that I had basically stopped doing it completely, other than the few minutes required to get ready for work each day. In fact, if I was in front of a mirror, I’d look the other way.
It was the year that West was doing a competition for our Ding Dong Ditch mission and our small groups were competing. I made a quick Target run in between church commitments to help my group. It was one of those shopping trips where you aren’t really thinking about what you are doing but instead, thinking of a million different things.
I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to my surroundings. I rounded a corner, looked up, and noticed that a woman was heading directly at me with her shopping cart. I turned in the other direction, looked back, and it was in that moment that I realized looking back at me was not a stranger. The “end cap” of that aisle in Target was completely made of mirrors. That woman heading towards me was not a stranger. It was myself. About 20 – 25 pounds heavier, and looking much older than I remembered being.
It stopped me in my tracks.
With my heart sinking I thought, “Oh. . . my . . . gosh, that’s me!!!”
I was mortified, ashamed, frustrated, sad, and angry.
How could I let myself “go” that way?
For a bit I was frustrated that no one had said something to me. But really, how was that supposed to happen? That was an unrealistic expectation.
Ultimately “seeing” was up to me.
Because I didn’t like what I was seeing, I quit looking. In doing so I created my own “version” of myself that I would actually tolerate seeing. And that was not my reality.
The season of Lent is about seeing ourselves as we truly are, not just the parts of ourselves we want to see.
Jesus had this uncanny way of getting folks to see themselves as they were and then motivating them to change.
What if we each take an honest look in the mirror today?
What if we are willing to see the parts of ourselves that we do not want to see?
What if we name them? Then own how and what we need to change?
Embarking on difficult change requires knowing that there is a “safe place” we can rest when the work towards change causes us to grow weary. The love of God is absolutely the safest place to be. That love holds us as we move in and through much-needed change.
May we embark on a “changing” journey together today.
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”