June 28, 2010
When the leaves begin to turn colors and the air gets a littler crisper at night, fall festivals start taking place in cities and towns all across America. Its a special time of year when everyone in town comes together to celebrate their community over amusement rides, chili cook-offs, and funnel cake. There is so much to see and do at the fair you dont know where to begin.
You and a few of your friends hand over two tickets and enter one of the favorite attractions in the House of Mirrors. As everyone goes their separate ways, you get misplaced from your group and lost amongst the hundreds of mirrors. Out of the corner of your eye, you see reflections of your friends in a few of the mirrors. Numerous reflections, but only one is where you friends will be found. You try to pursue them and head towards a reflection. WHAM! Your head smacks up against a mirror. Wrong reflection.
Your second and third attempt produce similar results. Just when you think you are on the right track there comes another dead end. Frustrated and sore you give up your pursuit and head towards the exit. From the way the walls are constructed to the angles of the mirrors, the purpose of the ride is to mess with someones spatial and visual senses. The shapes in the House of Mirrors give the participants unusual and confusing reflections of themselves and those around them.
Whether we realize it or not, we tend to live our lives like we are in that House of Mirrors by engaging in the game of self-preservation. Even though we crave to be in relationships with others where we are known, vulnerability is something we fear at the same time. Our culture has programmed us to keep people at arms length. We have grown into a society that seldom trusts the intention of other people and because of this we are often apprehensive about letting people know us.
This is not meant to imply that you dont have close friends or anyone in your life that really knows you. But even in those relationships there are often barriers that are erected to manage an image that we want to maintain. The barrier to developing authentic relationships is self-preservation. In general, we want others to perceive us better than we even perceive ourselves. We often struggle with disappointing other people or not measuring up to some standard that always feels out of reach.
We are afraid that if we take off our masks or expose our problems, we will be rejected. At the fall carnival, we shun the rejected like the Bearded Woman, Two Headed Boy and Midget Lady to the House of Freaks. We pay our money and snap our pictures as we gaze at people who dont fit in to normal society. We struggle with whether others will perceive us as normal or not.
What we fail to realize is that everybody has a habit they struggle to control, a past they cant undo, an insecurity they hide, or a flaw they are desperately trying to correct. The good news is we dont believe anyone is normal or has it all together. Everyone is crazy. Unfortunately, if things remain the same and we allow self-preservation to exist, we hinder our spiritual formation and growth.
If we are to survive and continue to grow out of our struggles we need a community around us to encourage us. If we are more concerned with our own self-preservation we will hide behind an image that we want others to have about us. Our desire for self-preservation is often at the expense of developing authentic relationships with those around us. So how do we start? As with all things, we center on God.
If we are going to develop authentic relationships, we have to be authentic ourselves and authentic with God about where we are. Authenticity is an accurate reflection of truth. Authenticity enables us to truly reflect where we currently are in our relationship with God. Whether it is good, bad or ugly, our honesty serves as a starting point for conversations to begin and change to occur.
- There are many reasons we have for not engaging with others. What barriers are you constructing that are preventing others from seeing the real you? How is this hindering your pursuit of your One Word?
- Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, Colossians 2:9-10 and Psalm 139:23-24. According to these verses, what does it mean to be authentic before others and God? Would you say you are being authentic before God or engaging in self-preservation? What makes you answer in the way that you do?
Are you looking for a way to keep your word in front of you all year long? Register for a My One Word account! One of the key features of a MOW account is an online Word Journal that allows you to capture your thoughts to reflective questions like you see above. You can go back at any time to read your completed journals to see how God has been moving in your life through your word in 2010. If you already have an account, the questions from this blog have been posted to your Word Journal log in to your account to start your Word Journal today!