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Flawlessly slaying - Contours on the self portrait

My son just started a new school year and on his first day at school they were asked to draw self portraits. When he mentioned this to me it really got me excited because I understood that one of the objectives of such an exercise was for each of them to see themselves as they are and appreciate the different portraits that would emerge from each person in class - I didnt think it was about how well they could draw but about the many and varied impressions they each had of themselves. I knew this was a creative way of encouraging them to appreciate those differences while also addressing some of the challenges we deal with in life through agendas such as diversity and inclusion. I truly believe that racism and mental health problems are some of the giants or mountains we face in society today...and there are so many little ways we can tackle these issues with bold sweeps of our sword, slowly but surely those giants are coming down.

Our self image in the eyes of our creator, goes much deeper than the surface of things and what we know of it is constantly evolving as our knowledge of God keeps increasing and growing on the journey with Him.

So really, as long as we stay with Him, abide with him , grow with him that self image we have should grow stronger and clearer with every passing day but never to the point werre we think we finally know it all. It could never be that way as long as we walk on this side of eternity. (Ecc 3:11)

The book of Proverbs says - A stable self image requires righteous counsel.

Who do we converse with about our self image? Not simply our physical appearance but what lies beneath as well. Who or what do we allow to purify our heart's desires?

"You cannot have pure silver vessel till you have puriified the silver and no nation can have a king, a public blessing till the wicked (ususlly in the form of bad counsellors, sycophants) are banished from court." Blue letter Bible

Sometimes the people we surround ourselves with are a reflection of who we think we are - and as a man thinks so is he! Like a mirror they reflect back to us...the older I get I wish I could say it has been easier to refrain from certain associations I know I have grown out of but the truth is we are creatures that revile in the familiar and atimes we entertain friendships or relationships that are long over due in our lives. If we observe very closely some associations that give a certain level of discomfort we can trace it back to a time in our growth process we were dealing with something, struggling to break free from something but then you are finally set free and still dragging along remaints of that season.

I imagine Joseph after being freed from prison and given his position as Pharoah top man still thinking he needed to surround himself with the men from the prison yard he had spent several years with prior to being promoted. Doesn't quite fit does it. Guess what I am trying to say is that seasons change and with them our associations. The time we spend gazing at our father should be what reflects off us and clearly speaks of who and whose we are. The time we spend finding our the truth from him should be evident in the bold steps we take to filter our associations and overcome our challenges.

When we face giants of any kind it stirs up insecurities and so it is important that your self image is a true and pure version.

Joseph could not avoid the men he was constantly associating with in jail but that was only for a season. Society may have branded him as an outsider and a criminal. He didnt have very much on the societal scale going for him in all honesty. He was not considered one of them as he was not from their part of the world and he did not worship the same god they worhipped. This is the story of many foreigners in various parts of the world today. They experience racial prejudices and other kind of discrimination that give birth to insecurities easily particularly when the source for confirming their identity is attached to social media platforms.

Statistics from Mental Health First Aid UK (MHFA) says "People with mental ill health are more dangerous to themselves than to others, 80-90% of people who die by suicide are experiencing mental distress. So when I speak of a man in prison consider, that prison could be your very own mind.

Joseph was constantly checking and affirming his self image with his maker and this translated into his behaviour, his ability to interprete dreams and eventually his promotion in Pharoah cabinet.

We talk about things like core values these are the things that guide our everyday decisions and eventually lead others to form an opinion of who they think we are...think of it as a portrait embedded in their mind's archive of you. Joseph's self portriat was engarved in the minds of the baker and the butler who served time with him in jail and eventaully the butler remembered Joseph. His mind called up the image of Joseph as he considerd the Pharoah's predicament. I wonder what image of me is conjured up when people remember me but more imporatntly what image do I hold of myself

We thrive to protect our core values in our associations because they help to sharpen our focus - where we go, the actiivties we take part in, the food we eat, the clothes we wear.

It is almost like saying what I think of myself is what people think of me but then what i think of myself is searched out in the quiet, sometimes in the heated crucible moments were no one knows and there, indelible values are forged or reinforced. There is alot especially in this day and age you can hear in the quiet moments and it is imporatnt you are hearing the right things.

All this to say that we play a significant role in maintaining and transforming our self image through the power of our own thinking. An important aspect of our self image is the prescence we create as well. Our presence carries it own unique frequency which attracts or repels. There are certain people that will find themselves drawn to you because of what you carry. Today, association is easier than it use to be and that can be good or bad. We can socialise on our phones with people in far corners of the world, we can involve ourselves in activities we would normally not be involved with physically by a single click on a laptop or ipad, we can expose ourselves to situations and people on social media who do not have the same values as we do and so for that reason in this day and age our sense of self and purpose needs to be even stronger and sharper than what might have been required generations before this digital savvy age. This age is moving at the speed of light and our thought patterns need to be form just as quickly and be well fortified with the truth.

There are two important elements of owning yourself self image, first understanding what that is and maintaining or transforming it.

1) Truth is a simple word with so much weight. What have you believed already? What are the factors or giants in this day and age that might try to bend or stretch the truth about your self image? Dont simply accept it question it - find out the truth!

2) Mindset - what you then believed eventually helps create your mindset. It becomes your truth. There is this new age phrase that goes round "this is my truth". You better make sure your truth is actually "the truth". Check what you are thinking on before you set it in your mind. The mind of a child is so fasinating. My son is constantly asking questions about God, about the world around him, he is searching things out and he is watching me as well, I am his closest association and what he is experiencing with me, at school and everyway else we go is enabling a mindset to take shape. But he is constantly checking all of that by asking questions. Are you asking the Father questions? Are you searching His word concerrning you?

A self portrait is done by looking at your reflection in the mirror and to get a true likeness of what you see you need to be honest...right? In terms of our self image that mirror can sometimes be the people we surround ourselves with or the mindset we have allowed to permeate our existence and this could have been forged from childhood and therefore a historically impression made and never changed even when it is wrong. Our first and foremost impression of ourself should come from our creator and that why we need to spend time with him to grow in that knowledge.

Inevitably, a geniune self portrait will have contours and shadows else we would never see anything on the paper. The contours outline the face giving it form and the shadows indicate the direction or effect created by the light. The closer we draw to the light source the less shadows we see. The journey we are on guarantees we will experience dark moments, dark seasons and all these contribute to our self portrait but the light always over powers, it always wins.

Within those dark contours could sometimes represent some of the giants that need to be slayed in our lives and some we just need to pass by without blinking. We can do that well when we understand who we are.

Marianne Williamsons quote says

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyoind measure

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us."

This is an amazing quote and what it says to me is, if we fully understand it is the light that gives us our true identity we would never be afraid of it.

Yet, in life we have moments when we shun the light or put another way, where we drop the truth in the heat of a battle. Have you ever experienced such a moment , what was it like and what did you do? Let's explore this in the next episode - I dropped my sword.

Be blessed!

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