A few weeks ago my husband had eye surgery. His surgeon was a woman whose rather uncommon last name was the same as a well-known family in the Montana town where I attended high school. When I went with Ron to his surgical follow-up appointment, I told the pleasant physician I’d like to ask her a non-medical question. “Are you by any chance connected to the ____________ family from ________, Montana?” Her surprised response was, “Yes, I am!”
That question opened a door to re-connecting with three women who were all high school classmates many years ago. The brief contacts we’ve had have been special to me. Also, they’ve reminded me how little I knew about myself as a person back then.
You see, these three women were all really ‘cool’ girls. Their circle of friends would have been viewed by many as the most coveted clique. Truly, there’s never been a time in my life when, I’ve considered myself ‘cool.’
Since I was a little girl, though, I’ve enjoyed all types of people. Every person’s story interests me. I love diversity. I’m fascinated by traditions and cultures. Perhaps because of my curiosity, I’m usually not overly impressed by someone’s perceived ‘coolness.’ Unless my ‘safety radar’ is alerted, I generally don’t shy away from social interactions.
But, here’s what I realized in this current reconnection and schoolmate interaction. Even though I recalled each of these women as high school girls well, and even though I’d liked each one for the worthwhile person I believed even then she was, I doubted any of them would remember me.
In reality, each said they did remember, and the way each described her memories was touching. This experience made me realize that when I was in high school, the raw potential of my personality and values were in place but had not yet been established in maturity.
As a teenager, I didn’t feel like I had much significance. I hadn’t grasped my identity. I didn’t really know WHO I was.
I’ve believed in God strongly all my life, but even so, when I was a teen, I didn’t have a good grasp on WHOSE I was. Discovering my infinite value to God didn’t come until much later.
So, what does this have to do with learning during Lent?
I thought you might ask.
Around the time I was having some “ah-ha” insights into my adolescent insecurity, I read from John 8, and was struck by a resoluteness in Jesus I’d never noticed before.
To the Pharisees, Jesus said (verse 12), “I AM the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” When the religious leaders accused Jesus of bearing false witness about himself, Jesus said (verse 14), “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I KNOW WHERE I CAME FROM AND WHERE I AM GOING.” (emphasis is mine) Without any doubt, Jesus knew WHO He was and WHAT His purpose was.
Today, as a grandmother, I struggle with occasional bouts of insecurity. Sometimes still, I want to withdraw or run away when life gets stressful. Once in a while, I still catch myself feeling unworthy unless I’m pleasing, performing or chasing illusive perfectionism. I realize, however, all of these long-held, deeply established patterns of behavior, happen much less frequently today than in the past.
Why is that?
During my Lenten reading, I realized the answer to this question is found in the Gospel of John 8. Jesus IS the light of the world, a truth to which I cling tightly. As I choose to learn more about Jesus, attempt to follow Him faithfully and imitate His behaviors more closely, I walk increasingly in the light of His truth rather than remaining in the darkness of my insecurities.
We are less than one week from Easter. As the season of Lent is coming to a close, I’m praying each of our journeys will be illuminated in greater measure by the light of Jesus…