a long look in the mirror

I came to understand boundaries and limits at a young age.

ositioned between my childhood home and our neighbor’s house was a tiny, knee-high fence, separating our yards. The fence ran from the sidewalk, through the front, along the side yard, where it eventually connected with a larger red fence in back behind our homes.

I was used to the little fence, comforted by the familiarity of it, and questioned its purpose only once. But my curiosities were satisfied when my father told me that the fence had been erected many years prior, in the nineteen-forties, by two old women- former tenants and neighbors- who brought in the fence to settle a feud over a cat that who wouldn’t stick to his side of the yard.

From that day on, I quieted my questions about our little fence, and continued to navigate over and around it. But the inconvenience and ineffectiveness of it was more than obvious, and hardly ignorable. A once practical implementation, now served as nothing more than an obstacle- completely irrelevant to our needs.

Whenever someone new would visit for the first time, they’d stop, pause for a moment and laugh asking, “Why don’t you remove that little fence?” But keeping it seemed like less work than the unearthing necessary to remove it.

Still, I always wished we would.

Our lives are filled with these little fences. We’re used to them. We create and implement them for good reason, but they rarely serve us, in the end. They place limits and imaginary lines on our lives, promising to help us or otherwise protect us, but often end up irrelevant to our true needs and restricting our potential to live fully and freely.

A fence we know well is the ego. You may now find your mind quickly referencing that guy in the weight room, that person on the sports field or in the office; you may think of that individual with an exaggerated sense of his own importance or talent; that dude who exercises an heir of superiority over everyone around him. Go ahead, think of him; but think of yourself as well.

Because undoubtedly, we all have an ego. It helps us see ourselves as distinct from the outside world and other selves. But it is the degree to which our ego has been exaggerated or inflated where we differentiate from one another.

Ego operates from a defensive, fearful frame of mind. Fearing that we become someone we dislike, disdain or disapprove of, or someone we are threatened by or jealous of, we simply seek ourselves to become better than, bigger than, or more beautiful than- rather than being and becoming who we each actually exist to be (and already are, for that matter).

A counselor once told me, “Some of the most confident people we know are also the most insecure.” How ironic. We mistakenly consider our ego to be helpful or impressive, a self-serving quality in ourselves, while it anything but serves us.

Ego tells us that we are our acquisitions, our accomplishments, and our reputation. The cost of such logic is that our lives become charted along a route of self-definition, rather than creative individualism. We therefore spend our energy misdirected- constantly searching for an identity through comparing ourselves to others.

Thus, the ego misleads and betrays us. Rather than being who we uniquely are, our strongest suit, we end up instead to be nothing more than a driven salesman, a strong physique or an unyielding competitor- never wrong, never outdone, always a winner. The ego is almost always inarticulate and commonplace. The opposite of what we hope it to be.

But, like the little fence, keeping our ego (and living with the consequences, however misleading) seems like less work than the personal unearthing necessary to remove it. So we accept its misdirection.

Afterall, who am I if I’m not… these things?

In the Church we love to say things like, “we are all children of God” or, “my identity is found in Christ.” But do we understand what we’re saying? We’re told over and over again that this is how God sees us and how dearly He regards us- like family; But do we understand how this shapes the way we too can see ourselves?

In the book of Genesis God says, “Let us create man in our image.”

Now there is certainly ample debate here over which of us looks like God. But luckily artistic renderings have silenced the debate, making it more than clear to us that He must be some sort of hybrid between Tom Selleck and Scott Stapp- both of whom have fought for years over the title.

But more than a debate about looks, bearing the image of God may be about sharing a piece of his character, his personal imprint. And if that is so, if that's how things went down, then the limitless, eternal, creative, imaginative God that spoke us into existence, put a part of himself in us.

So yes we’ve been given the power to choose things (free will)- But even more so, along with that, the power to create.

Think of it- With every word we utter in conversation; every act acted upon or alongside another person; with every smile; every nod; every kind or ill word offered; ever verbal and non-verbal utterance and the glances in-between; we provoke a response. we create new circumstances and situations.

With the woman at the toll booth, with a friend or at work, in line at the grocery store... We create new realities.

Maybe Neuton was onto something much bigger when he discovered that, "every action has an equal and opposite reaction."

Weather you think yourself to be artistic or not- God made us each creative. He made us able to create things; to bring new realities into existence; imagine, speak out, and see through new courses of actions. The Creator created us to continue creating, like Him.

When we exert kindness, humility, forgiveness- a response is provoked and a new reality is birthed into the world around us. You, your words and actions, your effect on others, are responsible for an absolutely unique creation.

What have you been creating in your daily interactions?
What has God given you the ability to create for others?
Think of all you're capable of...

For thousands of years, astronomers have wrestled with questions about the size and the age of our universe. Even the ancient Greeks struggled with the question, “What might an infinite universe look like? Does it go on forever, or does it somewhere have an ending edge?” It wasn’t until the early 20th Century that scientists discovered that, from the moment of its conception, the universe has been expanding and has remained in a constant state of change.

God is still creating.
Have you forgotten that you are as well?

Have you muted your creative voice in the universe and opted instead to erect a series of small fences to protect youself, or an ego to define yourself? Have you drawn imaginary lines around your life and blurred the image of the limitless, eternal, creative, and mysterious God we mirror?

God is more than the Creator. He’s a creator. And it seems He continues to do what He loves. He continues creating. And with every bit of our being we imitate our Father in heaven and his creative ways.

With each breath in the opening chorus of Genesis, the opening act of our play, God looks at His creation and says, “It’s good.”

Looking at your own, would you say the same?

"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines. Going where I list... Listening to others, considering well what they say, pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, gently but with undeniable will divesting myself of the holds that would hold me." -Whitman

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