…of who we thought we would become.
In the 1990s, Andre Agassi was synonymous with the claim that “image is everything.” And, in a matter of speaking, there is a great deal of truth to that—especially when the image in question is the image that you have of yourself. What plan did you have for your life? Did you imagine yourself doing something profound on a global scale? Starting your own business? Perhaps you saw yourself as the perfect parent? Were you going to have the largest house on the block with all of the latest toys? Or, like a superhero brought to life, would you be the one person who always made the just and moral choice?
Self-Image is a very powerful thing. It impacts both our output and our intake. A positive one can produce feats of courage and daring, lead to innovation and self-improvement, and encourage those around you. At the same time it interprets our life and daily interactions in a manner that builds us up and strengthens for the days, months, and years ahead. But….and this is a big Butt…a negative self-image can be devastating. Our output becomes lethal and our intake polluted. This self-image can be a poison that leaches into those closest around you, it can cloud your perception of life, and it can leave you in a rut that gets harder and harder to escape.
And, if you are anything like me, the greatest cause of self-generated negativity is your inability to let go of who you thought you would be. Such a powerful force this can be. Just like the comics where the villains always have the stronger powers, negative perceptions (powers of destruction) are the nukes of life. If you are a Christian wanderer like me then you undoubtedly have found yourself in a place somewhat similar to what I have described. Things have not turned out at all as you anticipated. You were going to be a minister, missionary, or professor of Christian thought—at the least, a regular part of a church. Instead you find yourself in a spiritual limbo, a place devoid of ultimate direction, without a center, a place you never saw coming.
So the question begs, what do we do if we find ourselves in this place of negativity, this limbo, this ceneterlessness (to coin a phrase)? Is this the necessary outcome of becoming a Christian Wanderer or a Doubting Thomas? I say the answer lies in letting go. Take that image that you had of yourself as a child, young man or woman, and let it go. Embrace your past. Own up to it. In so doing you will take away some of its power over you and you can begin the process of laying it down.
Until you do you risk hurting yourself and those around you, and wasting what remains of this precious thing called life. Reconcile yourself to who you are and take joy in whatever you can. Find others with similar life stories and find solace in camaraderie. I cannot guarantee that doing so will restore any former glory, make you a better parent, give you that big break you have been waiting for, or make you that moral superhero you always envisioned. But I can say with a great deal of conviction that failing to let go of who you thought you would/should be will increase the odds of you being a bad parent, a bad friend, a drain on those around you, and increase exponentially the odds of you wasting your life.
Image can be everything, so imagine yourself laying down the chains of your past and embrace your now. Find joy in today. Find excitement in the struggle. See things anew. I finally am.