by Verlisa Harris
The word “Me” is indeed a small word, yet it holds great significance for which we often fail to attribute and uphold. Who would have thought a word made up of only 2 letters, sounding 1 simple syllable, could be comprised of the complexity, as well as the perplexity of the human state. The word “Me” encapsulates every aspect of my being—my mind, body, soul and spirit—and my personal life experiences, that has served to shape my beliefs, thoughts, opinions, perspective and purpose. The cool thing is that the word “me” denotes a sense of exclusivity and originality. It epitomizes my traits, characteristics and idiosyncrasies, even right down to my DNA. My DNA is manifested by my own individual fingerprint and footprint, which amongst the billions of humans on earth, can never be copied or duplicated. In Psalms 139, the psalmist contemplates his own creation story in amazement, worshipping God and recognizing that he is indeed “fearfully and wonderfully made.” He states in the Message Bible, that “Body and soul, I am marvelously made!” “I worship in adoration—what a creation!” He sees himself as a unique, one-of-a-kind masterpiece, specially formed and meticulously fashioned by the Master Creator, God Himself! What awe! What wonder!
The word ‘Me” has heavily drawn my focus lately, as I have been compelled to give myself the gift of greater attention, appreciation and care in 2 specific areas of my living—first and foremost, my relationship with God, and secondly, my relationship with myself… For so long, I have suffered days of neglect, constantly putting myself on the back burner to pacify and serve the needs of others. How noble I must be to always place the needs of others before myself, I thought—telling myself that someday, I will have the time to do something especially for me for a change. In hindsight, I actually did a disservice to myself, faithfully pouring out into others, when I desperately needed the time to pour into me.
To the average person, this realization may sound a little selfish. You may consider me to be self-absorbed, stuck on myself, or conceited. But, I’m observing and learning a new perspective when it comes to love, minus the guilt trips and the manipulations that former acquaintances have tried to throw my way. According to Mark 12:30-31 (NIV), Jesus admonishes, (30) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. (31) The second is this: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Having a healthy relationship with self by loving me is crucial when it comes to properly loving others. Omitting my desires to make me more desirable to others, giving up my preferences, likes or dislikes to gain the often wavering approval of others has been my approach to relationships, which often left me feeling conflicted, disappointed, frustrated and empty. Somewhere in the shuffle of relationships-of being a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a mother, and of once being a wife, I yielded by putting myself aside. In the quest to fulfill the expectations of others, I found that I didn’t like nor did I value myself anymore. I didn’t realize how much the distance between me and my life’s goals and dreams had grown, until after my divorce. The merry-go-round of running to please everyone else had come to a stop. This abrupt stand-still that seemed to happen out of nowhere, became unbearable to me, for I had become addicted to the approval of others. The silence around me spoke loudly as I often struggled with finding my own voice and locating my own “sound.” I found I couldn’t hear anything. My inner voice had grown silent amidst the voices of those that I loved, respected and admired. I longed for the times their voices were prevalent in my ear, for this meant I would never have to settle down and learn to accept my own voice. I feared my voice and felt that my voice didn’t matter. I failed to acquaint myself with the very gifts and values that the Creator invested within me—my own voice and the ability to love me.
My current situation has heightened my awareness to this discovery, as I am parenting 3 teenagers. 2 of them will graduate high school this year and will go off to college. A significant portion of my energy has been poured out into them, as I focused on raising them and preparing them for the next stage in life on their “sprint” to adulthood. I looked up one day and soberly recognized that they were no longer babies. I could no longer hold on to them, but my job as a parent was to help develop their wings and let them fly. I know…it’s easier said, than done. The seasons for me are changing and the winds have shifted. The time for them to leave the nest is fast approaching. A home constantly filled with their voices and their sounds will become quiet, and I will be left with my own voice after their departure. I‘ve gotten so accustomed to hearing their hilarious laughter, listening to their “millennial-type” discussions and conversations, staying “hip” with their lingo and expressions, keeping abreast of their music and entertainment…their noise…their sounds!!! Maybe, to the average parent, a house filled with complete silence is heaven. However, I notice 2 things happening simultaneously within me: 1.) part of me dreads the upcoming silence in my house, and 2.) the other part of me senses the reemergence of my own “sound” making its way to the surface. Strangely though, I feel emotions of uneasiness and excitement at the same time. I’m terribly proud and excited that my 2 teens will be graduating, but yet feel the uneasiness in the pit of my stomach, as I must make the parenting transition of letting them go. On the other hand, my eyes are turning to me and I recognize with excitement that this is my time!!! All of those years I spent keeping “my voice and my sound” silent on the inside of me is giving way to a total breakthrough in my life! A renewed love, joy and appreciation of “ME” has resurfaced and is in order. No longer do I have to refrain from releasing my voice; no longer do I have to refrain from loving me. For it’s in investing in the love of me that I am filled, released and freed to truly love others.
Verlisia L. Harris is a Birmingham, Alabama native and has been a resident of Houston, TX since 2008. She is a proud single mother of three teens, Caleb, Zion and Victory. She loves to write, journal, sing and read great books (namely, her bible) and periodicals. She faithfully serves as a youth pastor, teacher and intercessor at her church.
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