When I was a teenager I would sit on the floor in my bedroom, right behind the door. There was a full length mirror on the back of my bedroom door and while sitting there, I would stare deep into my own eyes. I would do this for a while, until I got this strange feeling, like I could not look any deeper; until I saw myself in a different way and decided it was too overwhelming.
Sometimes I would talk to myself, in both negative and positive ways. It depended on my mood and what happened during that particular day. Occasionally, I would do this personal ritual until I came to a different feeling, one of clarity.
I stopped looking at myself like that in a mirror a long time ago. I suppose after I left my parents’ home I did not even think to do it anymore, life moved on and I got out of the habit. Of course I look at myself in the mirror all the time, while fixing my hair or plucking my eyebrows. While putting on my makeup or making sure my shoes look good with my outfit. But I don’t really LOOK.
This past weekend I attended a life-changing retreat. It is hard to put into words what I experienced while I was there. And some things, I am not even able to say (no, it’s not a cult, LOL). God has some secrets that are meant to be kept and this is one of them.
A couple of years ago I signed up for this same retreat, that is only for women, and hosted by members of my parish and parishioners from a few other local churches. However, I had to back out due to a scheduling conflict. I was easily able to go this past weekend, even though I had to swap weekends with Tim having the kids. It was meant to be. Meaning, I know I was supposed to go on this journey after splitting from my husband and going through divorce.
Not shortly after we arrived Thursday evening, I decided to put away my phone for the rest of the weekend. I was not able to tell time (except by meal times). This meant I was not able to Google anything or take selfies. Or check social media or ANYTHING else we might want to do with our phones
like text my boyfriend.
There were truly amazing, enlightening, AWESOME things that happened this weekend. Things I will never in my life forget. I had experiences and met people that will stay with me forever and ever Amen.
However, not having my phone may have been the best thing that happened all weekend. (I said “may” just because so many astounding moments happened!). I think what I really mean is that it will be one of the details that has the most lasting impression on my life (oh no, wait, there are a bunch of those too!). I really believe my point is, being without my device gave me new CLARITY.
See, I have seen myself in a different mirror, for a long time. I realized my phone became my “mirror”. Looking into it, I had a certain amount of “overwhelming”, but not at all the same kind. I took “likes” and “follows” as affirmations, instead of my own words or even other people’s. Additionally, because this mirror didn’t show the real me for a long time, in essence it was more of a “fun mirror,” you know, one of those at the carnival that reflects you in a way which is NOT at ALL how you actually look. Showing a perfect family and life. Giving people (many who hardly knew me) the impression that everything was fine, close to perfect even.
Clearly, that was not the case.
While my marriage was falling apart, I was reflecting a much different image to those outside of this house. Yes, even close friends and family. What I also realized was, in putting down this “mirror” (phone in this case) I can also see everyone and everything around me, as I should.
Tonight I took a walk with Katie, while she rode her bike and I walked the dog. Instead of desiring to take a picture or bury my face in Facebook (while walking, mind you), I left the phone on the counter at home. I watched K’s naturally highlighted hair cascade in the breeze as she rode her bike. I noticed Oliver’s dog “smile” as he pranced down the street. I looked up at the light blue sky and noticed the pattern of the linear clouds. I heard the birds, singing, I waved at neighbors who drove by. Instead of being distracted the entire time, I took some pictures in my head, instead of with my phone. I can still see them now.
Earlier in the afternoon, before the kids came back to me, I set up my hammock at the park near my house. I fell asleep after saying to God out loud, “Thank you”, over and over. I was in the middle of eating an apple and had a few leftover tears, as I simply felt at peace and drifted off.
I need Him to know that I am thankful for this beautiful life He gave me, and for the clarity I now have thanks to Him (along with some truly awesome humans He created). I need Him to know that I am more conscious than I have even been of how abundant the blessings are in my life. I need Him to know that I no longer plan to put so much stock in that false, fake mirror and instead I am hard-pressed to live my life more conscious of the small, but powerful things right around me.
Will I be perfect? Nope. But I plan to leave my phone on the counter, a lot, lot more and focus on REAL LIFE. And I will look at myself in the actual mirror, and tell myself past mistakes do not define me, and find clarity in my own face and mind again.
Seeing things clearly is a gift. When we can open our own eyes to theses realities and show our true selves, it not only helps us, but all of those around us as well. So I am replacing the fake mirror with a real one and making sure it is nice and clean so I can see all the beautiful details, inside and out.