This morning I bought a drawing app for Maya. It records the drawing she makes so that she can replay or even post it online. She sat and recorded her drawing for five minutes or so as I made breakfast for Timmy.
When she played the recording back I was shocked to hear myself! I had no idea it was recording sound. My first thought was, “Man, I sound weird.” Then I heard myself talk to Timmy, and respond to Maya’s questions. My second thought was, “Why do I sound so annoyed when I talk?” My tone was harsh and blunt. There was no tenderness or love behind the words I spoke. “Do I always sound like that?” I think the honest answer is yes. When I speak it sounds like I am annoyed and bothered by my children. Is that the message I am sending my children? If so that’s awful! I’m sorry Maya and Timmy, I love you and you are never a bother to me!
I cannot see myself. In my mind I am perfectly justified in all my actions, I do no wrong. But I wonder, what if I could see myself in third person? What if I could see my character in someone else? Would I be so forgiving of his faults? Would I even like him? Would I love him?
I see myself on video, or I hear myself on audio and I shrink into a ball of embarrassment. Why? Because the justification lies I tell myself dissolve into nothing, exposing my bare self to my eyes for the first time, and it makes me feel naked. If I cannot love myself in the third person, I really cannot love myself in the first person either, and if I cannot love myself how can I expect others to love me? Those people in my life that do love me do so despite my glaring faults, that up to now I have been blind to. I am grateful for their mercy, forgiveness, and generosity, and for loving me while I am still broken.
“I was a much better chess player before I started taking lessons.” My students say. The truth is that their consciousness of their chess skill has been expanded, showing to them the rather large gaps of chess understanding! It hurts their perfect image of themselves. Then they have to make a choice. One, turn their gaze away from their shortcomings and tell themselves a newer more convincing lie regarding their state of being, or humbly accept their deficiencies and begin the courageous work of change.
I could say, “I was a much better person before I started to try to expand my consciousness!” as if my expansion is causing me to become a bad person instead of revealing to me the gaps in my ability to love that were already there. I too have a choice. I can either turn my gaze away from my lack and stunt my growth out of fear, or I may humbly embrace my deficiencies and begin the courageous work of change. Today I choose change.
I have also discovered that this change is extremely mine, and innately practical. When I think of spiritual growth I often imagine a white light glowing down on me from a place infinitely far away that will automatically and magically change me because I have finally granted it permission to do so. Nope! The work is extremely mine and I must find practical ways to supply the lacking “love materials” to fill the gaps that my growing consciousness shows to me. It is real work. Sometimes the supernatural feels intensely natural.
No one, absolutely no one can do this work for me. There is no contracting this work out to the lowest bidder. What is more, when I do this work, I am finally doing exactly what I am here to do in this world. This painful, quite, humble and unrecognized work of change and growth is why I live here, and the work will be incomplete for as long as I draw breath. With my last exhale I will say, “It is finished.”
Mirrors do not lie. I lie to myself. I lie about who I am and what I need and what is my fault. The most honest mirrors in my life are those people in my life that love me and reflect back to me my own behavior. I choose to pay more attention to the mirrors in my life so that I may finally learn to love myself, and others, perfectly.