But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God. 2 Corinthians 2:14-17
When the temperature begins to rise and the kids get out of school, summer festivals start taking place in cities and towns all across America.It’s a special time of year when everyone in town comes together to celebrate their community over amusement rides, chili cook-offs, and funnel cake. There is so much to see and do at the fair you don’t know where to begin. A community party is taking place.
For a second let’s pretend you and a few of your friends enter one of the fair’s favorite attractions in the House of Mirrors. As everyone goes their separate ways, you get misplaced from your group and lost amongst the hundreds of mirrors. Out of the corner of your eye, you see reflections of your friends in a few of the mirrors. Numerous reflections, but only one is where you friends will be found. You try to pursue them and head towards a reflection. WHAM! Your head smacks up against a mirror. Wrong reflection.
Your second and third attempt produce similar results. Just when you think you are on the right track there comes another dead end. Frustrated and sore you give up your pursuit and head towards the exit. From the way the walls are constructed to the angles of the mirrors, the purpose is to mess with someone’s spatial and visual senses. The shapes in the House of Mirrors give the participants unusual and confusing reflections of themselves and those around them.
Whether we realize it or not, we tend to live our lives like we are in that House of Mirrors by engaging in the game of self-preservation. This game prevents those much needed crucial conversations from taking place. Even though we crave to be in relationships with others where we are known, community is something we fear at the same time.
There are numerous lengths people go to maintain this false image of themselves. Keeping conversations strictly at a surface level is how it usually appears. It is similar to those slight of hand card tricks you find at the carnival. The person might share a struggle (show a card) knowing full well they have an ace up their sleeve that allows them not to share what is really going on. Remember, the issue isn’t always the “issue.” This action is meant to distract people from going deeper and asking the hard questions because there is this perceived level of depth. Another way self-preservation is seen is when people talk about other’s struggles freely, but never acknowledge their own. Others simply stay unengaged and don’t speak up much.
At the foundation of each approach is the struggle we have with belonging or feeling like we are accepted. We are afraid that if we take off our masks or expose our problems, we will be rejected. At the carnival, we shun the rejected like the Bearded Woman, Two Headed Boy and Midget Lady in the House of Freaks. We pay money and snap our pictures as we gaze at people who don’t fit into normal society.
We struggle with whether others will perceive us as normal or not. The good news is no one is normal or has it all together. One of the foundations of PC3 is the belief that everyone is crazy. Unfortunately, if things remain the same and we allow self-preservation to exist, we hinder the formation and growth of our relationships. Parties never take place because no one gets invited.
We all try to hide our “weirdness” from everyone. However, it isn’t until we let our guard down and become transparent that we will ever feel fully loved. This can only happen in the midst of others. If we are to survive and continue to grow out of our struggles we need people around us to encourage us as well as speak up during those times when we’ve gone off course.
- Why do you believe people engage in the act of self-preservation?
- What barriers are you constructing that are preventing others from seeing the real you and having those crucial conversations?
God, may I not live my life in a house of mirrors. Instead, let me transparent about my struggles and shortcomings. Give me the courage to invite others into my world as well as the willingness to spur others on to good deeds. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.