Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Ask God to show you the truth that He created you to manifest.
You have an eternal identity. The more you are connected to the Fountain of Truth, the more clear that identity is and the brighter it shines.
I think all of us, at some point in our lives, come to the realization that we’re not who we once were, who we want to be, or who we know we have the potential to be. In my walk of life, there have been so many times where I came out of a fiery furnace of trial, and I didn’t know who I was. I knew my name and age and what I looked like. I could tell you my blood type and where I lived. But I didn’t know, or couldn’t remember the recipe, that made me, me. I remember one day sitting up to the piano, and I was playing a song and a feeling came back. I recognized the feeling and knew that was one of the ingredients to my identity recipe. Bit by bit, I gathered little things, I listened to people who had known me my whole life and they affirmed to me what made me, me. Over time I was able to put myself back together and have some confidence in who I was.
Over the course of my 29 years of life, this experience has happened so many times, I couldn’t tell you how many now. Every time it has been such a painful process. It was like my memory of who I was was erased and I had to start all over from scratch.
Fifth grade was an especially hard school year for me. I made friends with people who no one else liked, because they needed a friend. I had a tendency to make friends with the outcasts, and in turn I was treated like one–not by all the kids, mind you. There were lots of nice people too, but for some reason, the mean people stood out to me. I remember at the end of that school year, our teacher had us put our names on a piece of white paper and decorate our name. Then we had to pass the papers around and as we got someone’s name, we had to write on their paper something we liked about them or appreciated about them. I remember getting a few that I had no idea what to write, and I was perhaps a little indignant. 🙂 Eventually all the papers had been passed and we received our own name back. I remember looking at mine and I was stunned. It had been a horrible school year for me. And yet, here, I stared at this paper and read, somewhat in disbelief the things that my classmates said about me–especially the mean kids. Things like, “You’re always nice.” They had spent the whole year being mean to me, it was hard to believe they actually had something nice to say. Maybe it was only because they had to? But they came up with the things on their own, so I guess it had to be legit.
Over the summer break I remember laying out on the lawn one day in the sunshine. That day I made a declaration in poem form. It was actually the first poem I remember writing. Here’s the poem:
There is a meadow
Up in the hills.
This meadow of color
That whistles to thrill.
There is a meadow
That shines so bright.
It takes my breath away
To see it’s light.
There is a meadow
That has much peace.
The animals are kind and gentle as can be.
The stillness and kindness
Of these harmless creatures
Will never cease.
For this meadow is my meadow,
Where kindness and love is shared.
For here is joy that all may find—
If you love and care.
I ended up putting the poem to music–the first song I wrote down the notes for. Though the poem and music are nice, the sense of shutting people out, out of the best of me was real. And it cost me.
I remember at age 12, I was in 6th grade, and I made the decision to stop being certain ways because I was tired of people making fun of me and being mean to me. The sad thing was, the things that I decided to give up where things that were part of my core identity. I still wanted those things, but it was so painful to have those things exposed to other peoples scorn and unkindness. So instead, in my inner emotional world, I built my own kind of secret garden, and there I placed these special things that made me me, where they couldn’t be hurt or rejected. In that same moment, I both rejected myself and those I was trying to keep myself safe from. They didn’t deserve to be loved, and neither did I. The way I see it in my mind is out in the middle of my meadow I built a big cylinder stronghold, made out of grey stone blocks. There is no way to let light into this place. It is completely dark inside. Impenetrable, it seemed to me. In a sense, I took my “light” and put it under a stone bushel. The interesting thing is, about a year and a half later I had my first all out mental break down at age 13.
A lot of life experience has happened since then, and I’ve had enough of what I call “episodes” of mental break downs that I’ve lost count. The interesting thing was, when I’d fall into an episode, it was like I went inside that secret garden stronghold. I knew things about myself, but couldn’t explain them to anyone else. I spoke gibberish. I knew how it made sense, but I couldn’t explain it in a sensible way to others. Especially in the episodes I had from age 18 and older, it was like I was trying to communicate to someone, anyone who would listen, what I needed and what I was realizing about myself. And yet, the funny thing was, the person who most needed to hear was the only person who got it–me.
A few weeks ago, I did some experiments with my kids. We were learning about being a light for Jesus and our theme song for our lessons was “This Little Light of Mine”. One day, I had the idea come to me to see what would happen if we put our light under a bushel.
We had some candles that we’d been using as an object lesson. I searched through the cupboards and found a container that I didn’t care about and that I thought would work. As we read through and discussed Matthew 5:13-16 I lit one of the candles and placed it under the “bushel”. I told my kids, “Let’s see what happens when we put our light under a bushel.” As we continued to read and discuss, I kept my eye on the container. You could see the light through it, so I knew the candle was still burning. Then, all of the sudden, the light puttered out and was gone.
I brought attention to our candle and I took it out from under the bushel. It was no longer burning. Something about seeing that black wick hit home to me in a profound way. I talked to my kids and said, “Jesus, doesn’t want us to hide our good attitudes and our good actions. If we hide them, they go out! We need to let them burn bright so people can see them and so that it will bring them to Jesus!” As we talked, I felt the Spirit bear witness to me this truth. It was as much for me as it was for my kids.
A few years ago, my sister gave me a picture she’d drawn for me. It was a picture of me, standing in a meadow. The picture struck me as profound, because that’s how I saw myself in my healthiest places. As I’ve thought over that stronghold that I built almost twenty years ago, I’ve found myself wondering what I would do. At one point, I saw my deranged self pulling down blocks and they were all over the meadow. I was trying to make something beautiful with them. But it was all just a huge mess. Do you know what I want now? I just want to go back to what was there to begin with, a meadow and me. Get rid of all the rocks and all the evidence of ever having shut myself in and the world out. I want to be free to love and accept myself and others, regardless of what they choose to do. I want to be free to be me–the way God intended me to be.
It’s been a long hard road, full of painful lessons. God’s taught me a lot about myself and even more about Him. The biggest lesson of all is to stay true to Him, to resonate with the truth He placed in me, to keep the light burning that He lit within me. And when I do, I am happy, I am fulfilled, and I am. I’m not trying to be anything, because I am myself. I don’t need to try to be something else, I don’t have to be, because I already am everything He wants me to be in that moment. And I just am who I am and that is enough.
Assignment for Dare Two:
Set aside some time today to meditate and take inventory of your life and the pivotal moments within it. No one knows them better than you besides God. The moments where you were filled with joy and excitement and passion–this is when you were connected to Truth and to your eternal identity. The moments where you are filled with all sorts of negativity in spirit, this is when you have rejected some truth and are not in tune with your eternal identity. Both can teach you things about yourself, about who you are, choices that you want to keep making, and choices you may want to change. Ask Jesus to shed His light on the broken places so that you can see the truth about yourself and discover the you that He created you to be. It’s a wonderful journey of discovery. Enjoy the journey!
~Thoughts From A Mother’s Heart