In these times of uncertainty and navigating new emotions most of us have never experienced, I’m finding quiet times of reflection that are leading to people learning things about themselves that they never knew before.
Maybe it’s the extra time on our hands. Maybe it’s that many of the freedoms and things we took for granted before are being taken away now. Maybe it’s having to re-evaluate how we do even basic things like grocery shop. We’ve all had to stop our brains from the habitual and sometimes mindless ways we’ve been functioning and are now seeing things completely differently.
For many of us, this means unwanted change and feelings of anger and disappointment. And along with those feelings can also come sadness, depression, confusion and feelings of anxiety and even hopelessness.
For some people, there are valuable lessons to be learned about themselves, and I’m excited to share one of those stories with you today.
If you’ve ever met my sister Sarah, chances are you associate her with her OCD. While it’s very serious matter and devastating mental illness, she has always chosen to deal with it in a very public way. And she also knows that humor makes it easier for people to accept what she deals with.
Sarah has always understood that her fears were irrational and unjustified. When I would try to convince her of how ridiculous her fears were, she could always agree with me because she KNEW that the things that crippled her with fear were completely harmless in the grand scheme of life. But mental illnesses aren’t always logical, and no matter how much I tried to convince her, she couldn’t control the impulsive thoughts, and OCD continued to overtake her life. Robbing her of simple joy and stealing precious minutes or even hours of her day with needless obsessing and fear-driven rituals.
While the world is dealing with Covid, my sister had a moment last week which I would call a breakthrough.
She called me a few days ago and explained…”Everywhere I go, everyone is freaking out. I’m seeing otherwise rational people running around opening doors with their elbows. Avoiding people for fear of conversation because the air they expel in a conversation might be “dirty”. People sanitizing everything they see. People afraid to touch mail, groceries. People afraid to give hugs to people who need one. Suddenly, I’m seeing how completely disconnected and ridiculous my behavior has been all of these years.”
For Sarah, seeing first hand everywhere she went what others were seeing when they looked at her, was like looking in a mirror. Suddenly all of her flaws and behaviors were being acted out in front of her. And for the first time she was able to feel the pity that countless others must have looked on her with when they saw her private fears played out publicly everywhere she went.
While I’m not dismissing everyones reactions to what is happening as irrational, what I am saying is this: Sometimes we don’t see ourselves as others see us. We see ourselves as being ok, because we are who we are. But sometimes we need to see ourselves as others see us so that our weaknesses can be exposed and we can grow to become a BETTER version of ourselves!
In james 1, God tells us this:
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
When I tell my sister that she shouldn’t let her fears dictate how she lives, she can hear my words, but can’t really truly see what I am seeing. Seeing how normal people now living with OCD tendencies around her are acting, she was able to see her behavior almost like looking in a mirror.
And that’s not a bad thing!
Seeing our bad behaviors and how they affect others can be both uncomfortable and life changing.I know when I get a big old, red pimple on the end of my nose, I don’t like to see my face in the mirror. I know it’s there, but seeing it reminds me of how awful it looks to others! But ignoring it won’t make it go away. Seeing it, evaluating it and acknowledging it, I can treat it the way it needs to be treated.
This works with our souls as well. We can’t ignore our shortcomings, but we can acknowledge them, and work to fix them as we grow to be more and more like Christ.
This week, take a good look at who you are, as others see you. Just as Sarah saw traits of herself in the people around her.
What do you see? What are you not proud of? What can you do to be better?
God designed you for great things, so let’s be intentional to live those out in who we are and how we act. Let’s be better versions of who we are and honor God in the growing process. ♥️