I hold several positions of authority. I am a Mom. I am an instructor. I am a public speaker. I am the director of five birth centers and hundreds of clinical students. In other words I look pretty damn good on paper.
Having any type of authority often makes me the most disliked person in the room. I have significantly felt the weight of that this week more than I have in a long time.
Last night I went to bed frustrated, resentful and burned out. Why do we have such a gross culture where we aren’t happy for one another’s successes?
Especially women. Women practically rejoice in the failure of other women. If you are a successful woman or have gained respect or authority you either ate your young, slept around or left a wake of destruction to get there. And maybe some women have.
But I didn’t. I have failed so much more than I have succeeded. My mentor SMS has told me for nearly 20 years now that “Experience is a very efficient teacher.” Efficient and painful if you ask me. But every year I grow up a little more and have come to appreciate experience. I respect experience and have become wise enough to let it unveil what I need to learn.
I have also grown up and stopped looking at other women like I am still 13. You remember 13 right? The painful, awkward years of middle school. Where girls threw each other under the bus, trash talked and did everything to hurt each other because we were all so insecure trying to figure out life at that age.
And then add boys to that mix and there’s a reason why it is called “teenage angst.” The problem is most women have not grown up with me. They are still 13 and view me through their 13-year-old eyes and angst.
Growing up emotionally is HARD. You have to find a lens in which to view the world and our society has many suggestions. Most of them pretty damn unhealthy.
Like diets, I’ve tried them all. A certain lens would work for a short amount of time and then I’d need a new lens. Changing lenses all the time lead me to some bad places. Eating disorder. Lying. Bad relationships. The baggage was enough to fill a jumbo jet! And yet I just kept repeating the same mistakes cycling through the same lenses hoping for a different result.
I believe they call that insanity and I was the poster child for crazy. So then I chose the victim lens. You know, the one we hide behind when we want to blame everyone else for our circumstances? Yeah, THAT lens.
Can we talk for a minute about how shutters and apertures work?
Slow shutter speeds allow more light into the camera sensor and are used for low-light and night photography, while fast shutter speeds help to freeze motion.
Most of life is low-light or dark. We stumble through the motions of family, work etc. The light is there but we take it for granted. Sometimes, though we run fast—we only realize we have been running in circles and are frozen in our circumstances. Our shutter speed is set too fast. This is the victim lens.
Aperture: A hole within a lens, through which light travels into the camera body. Read that again. Sound like anything else? For me light is Jesus. Light pushes out darkness. It travels into the camera body or our heart. When we are emotionally immature the hole in our lens is teenie tiny and doesn’t allow light in. We blame others for our darkness. OR, we expect others to make the hole in our lens bigger so we get more light and then are always disappointed and hurt when we realize they can’t be our constant light source. Our spouse. Our parent. Our boss. Our co-worker. Even our pastor can’t be our constant source of light.
There is only one source that can provide that constant light. There is only ONE clear lens as to which to view the world. Jesus. So when I woke up this morning exhausted and feeling like a crabby old bird I reached for my victim lens. I was feeling sorry for myself. The martyr because no one sees how hard I work and how much I sacrifice. Pity, like comfy slippers, sounded perfect for today. Then in the darkness of early morning my phone lit up on my bedside table. To my annoyance the tiny screen lit up the entire room. Light does that ya know? I reached to turn it off and saw that the scripture of the day had been delivered and that is why it lit up. “Every way of man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts.” (Proverbs 21:2)
I exhaled. I’m not a victim. God sees me. He uses my heart as his lens. Not the eyes of the world. I inhaled. This is a big deal for me. I do it with purpose every morning. And as I do it I put my hand on my chest, over my heart, where the scar from my chemo port is rough and bumpy. And I inhale more than air. I inhale gratitude.
Because God is not done with me yet. He is still delivering light to my heart. He SEES me. He sees you too.
image courtesy of Simon Migaj