I have been thinking recently about how people define themselves. Why are we as we are? What are the things that we embrace that play there part in making us who we are? For example – why are some people afraid of water? Why do some seem to rise to the big occasion when others run away from such things? Why are some people loud and annoying while others struggle to communicate and appear fearful. Why do we embrace certain things which shape and define our personalities, and can these things be changed – can we re-program who we are?
I went visiting one of my old ladies not too long ago, let’s calls her Grace. Grace is a wonderful woman, and I have had the privilege to be around in the church as she laid her husband to rest after 60 years of marriage and she has adapted well to being alone, although this has not been an easy path for her after so long with her loved one.
Recently Grace went to an over 90’s group, one of the many groups she now attends to keep her mind active and improve her social life. When I called to visit her she was really excited to show me a painting she had done at the group the week previously. It was quite special that she wanted to share it with me, and she was very proud of this piece of work. But then she said this comment, which I don’t think I will ever forget “And they told me at school I was not creative!”. Oh my – how sad. To think that over 75 years ago some random teacher had looked at Grace’s work and shook her head and pronounced that she was not much good at this, and my dear sister had held that comment all her life, so that part of who she was had been labelled “not creative”. And now suddenly years later we were both faced with the reality that it was not the case. She spoke about how she had not really been creative at all with her children when they were growing up because she never thought she wasn’t any good at this, and she wished now she had been.
There was something beautiful that afternoon about the freedom which came to my friend Grace when she realised that she actually could do something she never thought she could. Truly a liberating experience, and yet the tragedy is that words were taken to heart and that something beautiful was nearly lost completely as a result.
As I drove home I wondered what are the things I tell myself I am not good at which may need to be revisited? Whose words over me have I embraced as true when in fact they are incorrect? How had I defined myself, and what prejudices do I hold on to that need to be unpacked and closely examined?
Yes, there have been many words said to me that I needed to look at again, and that is easier said than done; when you tell yourself you can’t do this, and you’re not worth that – but the wonderful news is … God says – I AM!
… And the flip side – what have I said to my children, and to others, that have limited them as they have taken them to heart? How has my influence on others curtailed their life and experiences, and in what ways have I spoken life to people allowing them to really know that they are so amazing and unique and can do whatever they want to do?
Thank You that your made us in your image, and that you placed within us such amazing potential to achieve and to succeed.
Jesus – during this Lenten season – remind me again that who I am is found in you alone, and that your words brings life, liberation and healing. .
Lord hear us – Lord graciously hear us!