February 2, 2013

Honor found in staying the course

My friend laughs at me for not having a self-image. 

It’s not that I have a bad self-image, I just don’t have one at all, she says.

I have to check with her on things like: Am I tall? Do I have a big face? Is my neck short and stubby? 

I don’t know if this is common, but I have never been able to look in a mirror and assess whether I am pretty. I gauge my attractiveness (or lack) from other people’s reactions to me. They are my mirror.

For a long time, I viewed myself as an extreme person. I don’t know if this originated from my youth when I had only two moods, rage or euphoria. There were times when I engaged in extreme dieting and exercise for days (hours) at a time and then reverted to couch potato for extended periods (days). 

My life’s goal was to be a champion for children. I wanted to rescue individual children from horrific circumstances. I wanted to galvanize lawmakers and politicians into overhauling a tired and weak child-welfare system. I wanted to be an avenger of wrongs and healer of broken hearts. But somewhere along my crusade, I discovered that I hate conflict.

Cowardice is a devastating character flaw for any superhero.

Several years ago, I was speaking passionately to a child’s law guardian about bringing down the family who had betrayed him and the system that had failed him. 

The law guardian smiled at me and said, “Mary, that’s not who you are. You weren’t meant to fight. You were meant to bring peace.”

Wow. Her words were a blessing. I had become so focused on what I lacked that I was blind to what I might have to offer.

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