March 11

A Mirror and a Hose

March 11, 2015


When we love people unconditionally, we help them see who they really are. In most cases, they really don’t know. Allow me to illustrate this with a conversation I had with Ellen. She was miserable, alone, constantly afraid, and had no social skills, no friends, no job. I spent several days with her, loving and teaching her.

A couple of weeks later she described an interaction with someone where she felt awkward. “I’ve never been able to connect with people,” she said. “I just can’t do it. It’s like I’ve never been here all my life. No matter how many people are in the room, I’m alone.”

“How do I feel about you?” I asked.

As her face lit up like a sudden sunrise, she said, “You love me.”

“Yes, I do, but just as remarkable is that you FEEL it. So what does that tell you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Right now the expression on your face proves that you adore feeling loved. You feel it deeply, which would only be possible if you had the ability to connect with me. You CAN connect. You’re doing it right now—with me.”

She smiled even brighter and wriggled like a puppy.

“You really are learning,” I said. “Each time you trust me, you feel more loved and safe. As you feel more safe, you don’t have to protect yourself, so the real YOU comes out more and more. You ALLOW me to see you. All of your life to this point, you’ve been in pain, so you couldn’t begin to be yourself or to know who you really were.”

“You hold up a mirror to me,” she said.

“True. Other people have always shown you what THEY WANT from you, NOT who YOU ARE. They’ve held up a mirror that was smeared with the mud of their own pain and fear, a mirror that was also warped and twisted. So what you’ve seen in other people is the mud and distortion of THEIR lives, not a reflection of yourself at all. I hold up a mirror that is much less muddy—far from perfect, but certainly cleaner than you’ve seen before—not because I’m better than anyone else, but because I simply don’t need anything from you. I don’t need you to change for me, and I’m not afraid of you—or for you—in any way.”

“That’s it!” she said. “You help me see myself—who I really am.”

“It gets better. Not only have people held up for you a mirror that was dirty and distorted, but they’ve also thrown their own mud—their pain and fear—all over you, to the point that over a lifetime you were covered with everybody’s mud. People tend not to keep their mud to themselves. They throw it all over the place every time they speak or act. So now you’re covered with mud, AND you’re looking in a muddy, distorted mirror. So what do you see? Mud and distortion, not YOU at all.”

“No wonder I was unhappy.”

“So what can we do about it? I can hold up a cleaner mirror, and at the same time, I can love you, which washes away all the mud covering you—like with a hose. Eventually, what you begin to see in the mirror is YOU. That’s a beautiful sight. I don’t fix you, or change you. Just wash away the mud that is NOT you and give you a mirror to see the results.”

“I can let go of everything I ever thought about myself.”

“Yeah, pretty much.”

As we love people, we wash away the mud and help them heal the wounds that have twisted them. And we hold up a clean mirror so they can see the results. When we are loving, and others are trusting, it’s all quite miraculous.

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