When did looking into the mirror become the emotional equivalent of jumping into a pool of water filled with great white sharks? When did the reflection we saw there become an enemy rather than a friend?
We are born to love and to be loved in return. From the moment of conception to the end of life, we each engage in a unique dance of connection. The success of this dance is so crucial that it can, literally, mean the difference between life and death. We can die from rejection and isolation. For infants, medical science calls it failure to thrive.
Profound need does not automatically equal profound fulfillment of that need. We humans are fickle and flawed. We can biologically become a mother or a father, but it takes deep love and commitment to be a mommy or a daddy. Babies are a great deal of work, and we sometimes need incentives to keep going after endless nights with no sleep. It’s no accident that babies draw our focus. Mother Nature equips them with special abilities – cuteness, smiling, and the ability to mimic facial expressions are three especially endearing ones that come to mind – to increase the odds of survival. Think about how you feel when you look into the big eyes of a small, vulnerable infant. We feel all warm and protective. It’s a unique emotion, one for which the English language has few words. We draw closer to the infant and are often rewarded with a heart-melting smile. If we could bottle the power of a baby’s smile, world peace just might be possible. It’s no coincidence that smiling is one of the earliest developmental milestones, usually about four to six weeks. Moments after birth babies can copy some facial expressions. If you stick out your tongue, your baby will stick out his or hers. Each of these abilities is a powerful incentive for a caregiver to want to interact with and to nurture an infant. One of the greatest tragedies of our world is that even the beauty and innocence of a newborn infant born to love is not enough to protect her or him from the harm that roams this planet.
Albert Einstein once said that “the most major and fundamental decision you have to make is this: Do I live in a friendly or a hostile universe?”
These dances of connection have a profound impact on our ability to choose how we see the world and on how we see ourselves. Some of us are blessed with healthy and loving individuals in our lives, and some of us are not. Whether or not we are blessed with loving interactions has absolutely nothing to do with who we are or what gifts we have. Sometimes it seems the result of a cruel and indifferent cosmic coin toss. Heads means you win love; tails means you lose the chance to experience the love and kindness you need. Children are especially vulnerable to the destructive effects of harsh and cruel individuals. They believe that bad things happen to them because they are bad. These experiences “blow holes in them”. They begin to see themselves as “less than”, as “undeserving”, as “unlovable”. Each time there is no loving interaction there is another hole and another and another until it seems there is nothing but tiny shreds of soul struggling to hold these gaping wounds together. These injuries don’t heal without help, and the child grows into a wounded adult who fears that the world will see how unworthy he or she is. Fear of discovery becomes a constant torment. The mirror just became the enemy.
What in the world do we do about that? Perhaps we need to stop judging ourselves by what the world says and does and see ourselves with better eyes. We do not come here as human beings on a spiritual journey. We come here as spiritual beings on a human journey. Our purpose is to grow to be the best that we can be, and we come equipped with everything we need to fulfill that purpose. God doesn’t make mistakes. He made us. We are His children, endowed with an Eternal Soul, and born perfect in His sight.
The journey to peace with the mirror begins with courage. I can imagine you thinking “how in the world am I supposed to act courageously? I’m not a soldier or a fighter or anyone with talents or training that put me in situations where courage is a necessary choice. I’m just a grandmother or a little boy or a school teacher or a parent or a person struggling with addiction or a person overwhelmed by divorce or loss. What in my life offers an opportunity to embrace courage? How do I step beyond my pain and be the best that I can be?”
Courage is simply fear that has said its prayers. Say your prayers and take the leap to healing.
YOU WERE BORN TO SHINE
…because your light will change the world, and you.