By: Staci Stallings
I’ve been reading Joyce Meyer’s book “Approval Addiction.” In it, there was a quote I will get to in a minute. Before I do, I want you to think for a moment about this: If I asked you to describe yourself, what words would you use?
Most of us go to the tried-and-true. Things like wife, husband, father, mother, daughter, son, brother. Or maybe we define ourselves based on our career. I’m a teacher, an accountant, a secretary, a nurse. Maybe we define ourselves by our religion. I’m Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian. Or our politics. I’m a Republican. I’m a Democrat. Or maybe by our geography. I’m a Texan, an Iowan, an American.
We define ourselves in many ways. Other words might be even more personal. I’m a cancer survivor or a veteran.
But even these are on the surface of who we are. Yes, they are a part of us, but most of the time they are not the real us.
In the book, Joyce gives this gentle challenge, “Let me see the picture of yourself that you carry in your heart.”
Now that strikes at the core, does it not? Basically she’s saying, “I don’t want to see all the outside stuff that you use to cover up who you really are. I want to know who YOU are, how you see yourself.”
Tragically, many of us see ourselves in ways others would never guess. We see a successful businessman while he sees someone who is one deal away from losing it all. We see a successful father; he sees a man who doesn’t know how to relate to his children and is terrified he will fail them. We see a mother who loves her children; she sees someone who feels trapped by the life she is living and just wants out.
No. Most of the time who we think we see is not who that person sees at all.
I spoke recently about geodes and how the students that I teach, I see as geodes. Yes, they may be rough and bumpy and difficult on the outside, but inside, I know there are beautiful crystals if I could just get in there to see them.
I believe that we as Christians are called to see others as geodes, that we are called to bring out the understanding even in that person that they have worth and value just the way they are.
In thinking about this quote, “Let me see the picture of yourself that you carry in your heart,” I can FEEL how very frightening doing so is for the picture I carry of myself in my heart is very different from the one you see on the outside. Truthfully in the past five years, the two have gotten much closer, but there are still things… things I tell myself, things I think, things I feel that color the picture of me in my heart. And I’m not totally sure I want to let anyone see that real picture.
However, I think one of my strong suits is coaxing others to at least be honest about that picture in their hearts. They might let me see, or they might not. But being honest about what that picture says is a very good first step in understanding that you are a geode. Because as you become honest about how you see yourself, you have the opportunity to deal with the things that are coloring or discoloring your picture, maybe even distorting it. You have the chance to begin to be gentle with yourself on those points that maybe you’re not living up to what you think you should be.
Like that businessman. Maybe he can see that the deal he is more than just the next deal. And the father. Maybe he can see that giving his children his time is enough. Or the mother. Maybe she can see that giving herself the opportunity to get out more would help her feel less trapped.
The problem too many of us have is that we never take the time (or have the courage) to face that picture that we hold in our hearts about ourselves.
So, today, “Look for a moment at the picture of yourself that you carry in your heart.” Who do you see? Are you the inside or the outside of the geode? What changes need made? What places need some gentle healing?
Who do you see? It’s a great place to start.