Life Lesson #185 ~ Beyond the Looking Glass

"You might wanna take a long hard look in the mirror and see if the person looking back at you is the kind of person you want to be." ~ Keith Scott

My mama, raised me with a gentle hand. I was given love, affection, her time and her ear often. Mama never tried to tame me, she simply guided me. What I remember most about growing up, being the little girl I was then is how she made me feel...loved unconditionally. I could sit with her for hours, talking about whatever popped into my head, and you know what? She was listening, paying attention and purposely inspiring me to imagine even greater things for my life. I'd watch her in the kitchen, the way she held my dad's hand and the way she looked at me. I felt her love every day in the way she kissed me, throwing her arms around me and as she tucked me into bed at night. I heard her love as she sang silly songs with me, read my favorite Bible stories and played her guitar when she thought no one was listening. I found Jesus because of my mama. His love was so full inside of her, it poured out, overflowing. I saw this everyday, in the ways she spoke to others and the way she treated strangers as family. Our home was always open, the kitchen was never quite closed, not even after the last dish had been washed, dried and put away. Those who were regulars at our table knew this too, calling often asking if "Patty's Kitchen"was still open and a seat available at the tablet to talk. No one was ever turned away, ever. Growing up, I most certainly took note of my mama's giving heart and how she was always kind, giving, generous and perpetually thankful. This is what I remember about growing up next to my mama's side the most, her grateful heart. My mama, she's what's known as pretty as a peach around here where we live. To say my mama is beautiful isn't really enough. Yes she was definitely always a sight  for sore eyes, but there's more to it than just that. Mama, she's always been this special kind of beautiful, the kind that takes your breath away, natural and honest- to- goodness authentic.  And yet she's never quite known this about herself.  My mama, she's always been humble, and this is honestly one of her most beautiful attributes till this very day. Now we know as children, especially as little girls we love to sit by our moms, watching her brush her hair, apply make up and try on new clothes. For me, growing up with my mom, I had this privilege, and maybe an advantage I've taken for granted too often over the years. I was blessed seeing her true beauty,  her grace, her soul, unmasked and vulnerable in the mirror. Sitting there, I wanted nothing more than to be like her. Why? Well  I saw in my mom's reflection humility, grace, gentleness and selflessness. Because of my mom, I realized  there was so much more waiting for me, just beyond the looking glass. I saw through her example of self-reflection, as humbling as it may be sometimes, it's essential to step through as often as possible.

My whole life, in all it's entirety has been greatly influenced by my mama. To say otherwise I might as well admit to having as much sense as God gave a goose. As a child, I hung on my mama's every word, and I was inspired by how her life mirrored God's Word. Was she perfect, is she perfect? No she isn't but she's always led the way for me, showing me how to step through the looking glass, or even fall  gracefully down a rabbit's hole without losing my faith in the process. When I read James 1:27, I see my mom, her reflection looking back at me in the mirror and I remind myself of this, "Refuse to let the world corrupt you."  What I can tell you about who I am today is something my mom established in my life very early on, an idea I grasped and a concept I still work to apply every day. See it's not so much about who we really are that holds us back, but it's the idea of who we think and believe we're not. 'Livelifehappy' really best emphasizes this concept when I think about it. "Finding yourself consists of peeling off years of social conditioning to find a self as it existed during childhood, unmasked."  And this is exactly what I want to talk about today as we step through into the other side of Alice's looking glass. But to do this, we must be willing to live a little deeper, dive a little further into our reflections until the mirror becomes clearer. Now, don't worry, this is just another adventure into the world of Wonderland. Certainly nothing to be afraid of I promise. Are you ready? Then let's step beyond the looking glass but remember what Alice would say.  "But, I nearly forgot. You must close your eyes won't see anything."

Things look rather different on this side of the Mirror,  don't they? For starters we're all a little bit smaller, more pocket -sized with a lot more vulnerability. We're certainly not as sizable, as towering or as consequential with as far of a reach or even as ambitious on this side of the looking glass are we? On this side of our reflection we can certainly understand far more clearly that our audience is with God not man or anyone else living outside the looking glass. Again, 'Livelifehappy" hits the nail on the head. "Sometimes you just need to go off the grid and get your soul right." And when we enter this sacred place within our soul, searching for God, for answers, grappling with our pride, ego and our own personal perspective we have one simple question to ask ourselves. Are we being led by the spirit of Christ within us, or are we being pulled around like a ring in our nose by the devil and the wounds he's left behind?  The truth is unless we come to the mirror of self-reflection, humbled before God, unassuming, quiet, still, available to listen and willing to be obedient none of it matters.  Why? Because if we can't fill ourselves with God's truth, listening to His still, small and quiet voice while in His presence, asking for His advice then it really doesn't amount to a hill of beans what we do anyway. This is the thing about self-reflection. It's an opportunity to sort out what's not only been occupying your heart and mind but what's been draining you too. The Word of God speaks to us brilliantly if we'd only listen. "BE STILL and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10) What I truly took away watching my mama as a child and keep in my heart as a woman today is this: "You can't break a woman that seeks her happiness from God."

Have you ever heard the old southern saying, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch?' It's pretty much how I see Alice as she's dreaming of a world of her own. Poor Alice, she's fantasying about "a place where the flowers would sit and talk to her for hours when she was lonely in a world of her own." Now thinking back to the flowers of Wonderland, how does this truly work out for Alice? Not so good if I recall...something about Alice being a common weed and drenched in water, if my memory serves me right here. The problem is Alice is planning without any self-reflection going on at all. She's much too busy pouting about what she doesn't have to think about what she actually has or even what God Himself has just around the corner for her. And this is why stepping through the looking glass, sorting out our nonsense and getting a deeper, clearer, cleaner perspective is so vital to our well-being. I like how Sadie Robertson puts it. "It's time to stop pouting about what you don't have, and start praising Him for what He has in store for you." When we stop, sit still and open our heart and our mind to God, our souls shine even brighter. He absolutely has a devin and specific purpose for each one of us, a plan unique to our paths, and a blueprint for our good He's had in motion since He created you and me. And when we walk with God, within the scared spaces of our soul, much like stepping through the looking glass, we find the women who He's called us to be. We see our worth, and we know we're not alone. Self-reflection is humbling, as it is eye opening but just  as Proverbs 27: 19 reminds us, "As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person."

Look at Alice! She's a sweet girl with a curious soul. She's very generous, helpful and kind much like my mother. In other ways she's very imaginative, quite adventurous, exceptionally inquisitive and easily frustrated; and in these things she's very much like myself. I think this is why I was always drawn to Alice, identifying with her predicaments and the out right nonsense following after her most of the time. Poor Alice. Looking back at our own adventures  with her in Wonderland she's been through the ringer, hasn't she? Falling down a rabbit's hole, shrinking, stretching, talking in riddles, having tea with a Hatter who's watch is always running two days behind, listening to a cat recite poetry, playing mad games with an equally as mad Queen and now what? Oh yes, poor, dear Alice is stuck on the other side of the looking glass talking to herself no less. "I give myself very good advice but I very seldom follow it. That explains the trouble that I'm always in. Be patient, is very good advice but the waiting makes me curious and I'd love the change should something strange begin. I'm sure that I know right from wrong and have the best intentions." See this is the thing about our own advice, it's filled with good intent, but rarely does it led us where we really want to go. This is where Alice really needs to learn to slow down, take a deep breath and honestly stop talking to herself. Self-reflection is a process, a way to find out not only by self-exploration but true self -deliberation to look into the reasons why we say and do the things we do. And until we can really get to the bottom of those two things, we will get nowhere. Well, that' not true  so to speak. There's an exception, but it's not good. Being lost is a direction, but not a helpful one. If we stay lost, sitting upside down miserable and very much uncertain of our worth even in a world of our own we might as well be chasing after the white rabbit again.

So where is our worth found? Oh silly girl, your true worth is found in Jesus and in Jesus alone. Nothing you can do or say will ever change this fact. You can acquire an education, marry up, marry down for that matter, work for a big company with just as equally big title, be the little guy at the bottom of the totem pole, shrink in size or even stretch such as Alice did and inherit all the money this world has to offer or even lose it all. But without understanding who you are in Christ none of that matters one bit. As a daughter of God, part of His vast and wide tapestry, you have been fearfully and wonderfully made. It's time to stop running from the looking glass and time to step beyond it, coming face to face with the One who loves you more than the world is round. You, yes you sitting there... the girl with the broken heart, the woman who's forgotten who she was before society got a grip on her!I'm talking to you beautiful child of the Most High. He knew you long before this world ever did. You were formed in His hands, by His heart and sent out into the world beyond the looking glass with a purpose. We all have purpose and I am living proof of this. I really don't think anyone who knows me or grew up with me could rightly say I wasn't an odd girl. This is an established fact honestly. But I have found peace with this. I have been shaped, molded and purposely created to fly with wings made from unusual, unconventional, a bit quirky but true, and absolutely the most curiously strange elements. I fly without a harness on, without a mask. I choose to see this world through my heart, not my eyes. And this is where the wisdom of Wonderland rings true...we must learn to close our eyes, or we won't ever see anything as we should.

And so as I begin my journey back from Life Lesson #185 ~ Beyond the Looking Glass, I encourage you to stay for as long as you need to. Reflect, rest, let your soul out, allow God time to mend your brokenness, heal your wounds and  set you free on the other side of the looking glass when you're ready. Remember, "in order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you." (Andrea Dykstra) And this is truly one of the greatest lessons I've learned from the looking glass myself. If I may, let me offer you one final thought here, something I learned at an early age. And that is this: I've learned to stop, examine my intentions and to remove the mask. This notion, this idea was given to me by a woman much wiser, humbler and more beautiful than I, my mother. She taught me, "not to carry around my mistakes with me. Instead, place them under my feet and use them as stepping stones to rise above them." (unknown) Mama, simply showed me the way. Now it's your turn to follow your soul, close your eyes and to believe. And believe me, your soul knows the way, perfectly understanding the impossible is possible. All you have to do is believe.

"Hold the vision. Trust the process. " ~ Unknown



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