I Look Deeply

I look deeply into my childhood eyes.

At 47, I somehow find myself still looking for myself. With major life changes a couple of years ago came a focus on me for the first time. I have been learning about myself, healing myself, growing myself. Extremely low self-esteem grew to tolerating myself to accepting myself to liking myself to loving myself. Vanity knows it has no chance with me; I have simply come to embrace the me God lovingly and very intentionally created. At the same time, I am striving to excavate that person, repeatedly cleaning the mirror and removing the accumulated film put there over time by others and by my own self that has distorted who I am beneath.

I am not having any kind of midlife crisis. I have already had enough crises to last me a lifetime. I do feel I have been having an identity crisis, though. Perhaps because I have always been a caretaker and people-pleaser and rule-follower. I’m not sure what parts of me I merely absorbed from others, which are soulfully me and which are simply surface superficial. What does not only looking at myself but others with new clarity in the mirrors and lenses reveal? I had grown comfortable in denial in some matters for quite time, almost as if I put myself into a self-induced protective state to fully reawaken at a later time, when I was more capable of handling truths.

I am wakening now. As a friend put it recently, this is my renaissance.

So I look deeply into my childhood eyes. Before the world so heavily influenced me and shaped me. I look for clues about my authentic self, about the me God created before I strayed so far away from his plans for me. It took until recently for me to realize He probably wants better for me, wants happiness for me, wants me to fully develop my talents and grow into my full potential, wants me to take care of myself, wants me to love myself as He does. To not like oneself when you believe you were divinely created seems to me now as an insult to the Creator, to doubt your beauty and purpose and potential. Even the physical body is said to be His temple.

When it comes to identity, I believe despite the influences, we eventually come to a point where we consciously and willfully accept or reject ideas and ideals, trying on different ones, keeping the ones that feel like a natural fit and rejecting the ones that do not. When it comes to my personal identity, I identify as a believer, a feeler, a dreamer, a lover, a nature-lover, a creative, and a philosopher. Funny, those are all of the things I know to be true, to see in those very same eyes, in my childhood photos.

So perhaps I have always known who I am. Perhaps I have simply fallen away from my authentic self. Perhaps it is never too late to begin the journey back. Perhaps the only work I need to do is to clean the path.

As I pick up each piece from my past, I must decide which I leave out and which I pack up. For I do not believe we can ever toss out anything; it will all always come back. All of it becomes a part of us, whether we want it to or not. But we can look at each piece through new lenses over time, evaluate each differently, price each more genuinely. There has been far too much clutter falsely distracting me, leading me astray, some placed in the path by others purposely.

Up ahead, I see myself and look forward to the reunion. For only when you find yourself along the looping trails again can you finally resume the forward journey.

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