Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fear part III, Being Who We Are

One year for Halloween I dressed up like Debbie Gibson - my childhood idol.  I wore my Electric Youth t-shirt, a blue jean skirt, cut a hole in my black leggings and drew a smiley face on my knee (only the truest of Debbie fans will appreciate), and sported my very own black top hat - a Debbie trademark.  Needless to say, my 8-year old self rocked it.

Throughout my whole life there has been someone or some people I've looked up to.  Whether it was famous celebrities or older kids in school; family friends or peers on sports teams.  I have a gift for seeing the good in others.  And yet, as great as this gift can be, it can at times be a curse.  Sometimes the more good I see in others, the more lacking I see in myself.  And I think this goes back to a deeper fear that is inside a whole lot of us in this world - the fear of being who we are.

As a youth minister, I try to never miss an opportunity to tell the youth that they are created in the image of God.  The earlier we can help them to see how unique and awesome they are, I think the better chance we have that they will actually grow up believing it.  So why is it so hard to believe it for ourselves?  Why do we allow fears or limitations or excuses to keep us from being that one-of-a-kind person we were created to be?  Perhaps culture has a lot to do with it.  We are overloaded by entertainment and the media world telling us we have to look or dress in certain ways.  There is a voice out there telling us and our youth that success can only be measured by the value of dollar bills or the level of popularity.  Our senses go spastic with all these ways & methods to "self-improve."  But it's not only the external causes. We have to be reminded, internally, that it is okay to be who we are.  It is more than okay.  It is okay to sing loudly in the shower regardless if we ever hit a right note.  It is okay to mess up or to fail at something that we think is really important.  It is okay to laugh at ourselves every once in a while (or all the time!).  It is okay to take the pressure off our shoulders and put peace in our souls - even when we really think "that" outfit or "this" haircut would make us this...much...more confident at work or school on Monday morning.

With all the cases we hear on the news of child & teen bullying, of suicide cases and violent murders; and in this political climate of partisan pointing of fingers and name-calling - it's baffling how much work needs to be done to put wholeness and peace back in our lives and more fully into this world.  Perhaps it can start with one of us at a time.  If we recognize our internal beauty and allow room for healthy growth and self-image, then we can help others do the same.  So many of us try to hide behind masks of wealth, beauty, success, fame, and self-righteous pride.  Forget the creepy mask from the "Scream" movies, these are the scary ones!  What if all of us, all over the world, took off our masks for just a day?  What if we stopped pretending that we had it altogether?  What if we realized our brokenness and then turned around and saw that our neighbor is dealing with very similar struggles?  I think only then could we crawl out from under our bed and face our fears front on.  The fear of being who we are is real...and without this fear we are vulnerable; we are an open book.  But if we can learn to let go of who we're not, and fully be who we are - with all our weaknesses and quirks and gifts - then we will not only discover the truth of our own souls but the beauty and truth of another.  That could make the world go 'round.  I pray that all of us can be who we are - knowing that we are works-in-progress - and yet at our core, we are exactly who we need to be.  

Now will somebody please turn up some Debbie so I can dance around the house?  It is Halloween for goodness sake...

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