Finding the Glimmer

“How do I know what my issues are?”

Our teacher looked dumbfounded. My perfectly innocent question seemed to stump her.

My “Good Little Girl” collage, March 2019

It was 2004, and my husband, Keith, and I were in training to be lay counselors and support group leaders in our church. Our teacher, Judy Davids, had just told the class that, as we prepared to help people with their issues, we would always be working on our own. But as far as I knew, I was Little Miss Mary Poppins—practically perfect in every way! I had certainly been working hard at that my entire life.

Judy said something about being open to God to reveal to us our “issues,” which seemed a very vague answer to someone like me. I was in the habit of attacking problems directly. Come on — give me a 3-step method, for heaven’s sake! Little did I know that day the journey I was embarking upon, and how abundantly clear my many issues would shortly become — ha!

I had hidden behind that mask for so long that I mistook it for my real skin.

If my soul is my true self, the little piece of God, made in His image and yet uniquely myself — my soul jewel — then where was it? Was it the image that I projected to the world of Little Miss Perfect, the minister’s wife and dutiful mother who insisted that her way was the right way and justified everything she did, resisting like crazy ever admitting to being wrong? Surely I polished that image every morning and worked extremely hard to live up to my own impossibly high standards.

Uhhh … no. Sorry.

That was not my true self. That was what I now call one of my false selves. It was a persona that I erected to protect myself. I had hidden behind that mask for so long that I mistook it for my real skin. But it was a self based on fear. Fear of my father’s anger and of my grandmother’s searing criticism and shame-based disapproval. Behind that mask, my true self was a prisoner, hiding so deep that I had lost her a long time ago.

The road back to myself was a long one (and it’s still ongoing). God is kind, gentle and patient, and He doesn’t hit us with the whole truth all at once. He only gives us a little at a time, peeling back one layer and giving that time to heal, strengthen and consolidate before revealing another.

Sounds painful, though, right? And yes, I won’t lie, there has been pain and melancholy on this journey. But I’ll give you a glimmer of hope — there has also been tremendous joy and ever increasing freedom! And I can’t wait to share with you more of my journey — and I hope to hear about yours. And who knows? Perhaps even to journey with you as a soul companion.

Next post: Journey to the Center of the Heart

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