"You're always trying to see yourself
through the eyes of someone else"
There's a degree of pressure on us when we do that.
To “hold a mirror up to" is a phrase meaning “to take a look at oneself objectively to examine or reflect on things (issues) stemming from the reality of reflection; to reveal to someone about the way they look (differently) to the rest of the world (so that they can reflect upon themselves); expose, show up, bring to light (some (unpleasant) aspects to oneself)”.
Community done badly holds up images of the ideal alongside the mirror and tells us all the ways we don't measure up.
I think there is merit in the mirror when it comes from a community with the right heart.
Community done well is about having a mirror held up to us that we can respond to. That mirror isn't designed to focus on and highlight all our flaws, but rather to reveal the inner beauty and brilliance that is masked by who we try to be, that's often waiting to be released. The image they want to see revealed isn't about creating another person to look like the "ideal" but to bring out the latent potential in the individual to enhance the community.
It's about allowing the individual to belong and shine without conforming to herd mentality or having to look identical to the rest of the flock.
It only works when there is real objectivity. It's a skill that needs nurturing in communities and in ourselves, to be able to see all thrive. We often get it wrong, I often get it wrong, but I know there's intention with the right communities I'm part of.
It's with sadness and often admiration that I see people who are still battling to live up to unreal societal and cultural expectations, forcing themselves to be someone else. The sadness comes from the fact that it is wrong and the compulsion to conform to set ideologies shouldn't be there, but I admire the resilience and the longing to chase that which is so often fickle and fading before it's achievable... But how long can that really last? Life is passing them by while they try to be someone they're not, struggling without asking for help to find freedom. How are you still holding on!?
May we all find a community that helps us be shaped more into who we are than the ideal they think we should be, but may we also find communities he see the innate beauty and brilliance in us and allow them to help us change to accept that!
If you'd rather listen and come to your own conclusions about the eclectic mix of songs I worked through in Lent 2023, here's the Spotify Playlist!