Wednesday 28 August 2013

Look for the light....

Quite a while back I watched this Youtube clip from a TEDx conference held in Houston last year. The talk is given by my lovely friend Karen Walrond who writes the uber blog Chookooloonks and she has to be watched to be believed. I've written about Karen before as she is the author of a fabulous book too - The Beauty of Different and this TEDx talks expands on her theme that we are all beautiful and that it is our difference that gives us that beauty. This time Karen asks us all to 'look for the light' but don't believe me that she is good. Believe the 83,383 views that this clip has had in the last six months. It is about 15 minutes long but worth it I believe.

So I mentioned that Karen asks us all to look for the light within a person, not to just disregard them based on the prejudices that society has taught us. In her talk she shares lots of pictures from our shared trip to Ethiopia and then asks people what they see. Take this picture I took (not half as good as Karen's but you'll get the idea). If you saw this person walking down the street in the UK what would you think?

Tattoos on the face and neck - she must be part of a gang?
Very young - bad mother?
Child with runny nose/ dirty clothes - neglectful mother?
Poorly dressed - benefits scrounger/ on drugs?
Large cross around her neck - with a cult? brain washed?

We are all guilty of making snap judgements at times and that is when we forget to look for what is good in a person, or that special light. Karen urges each one of us to go about our day and to look for familiarity, sameness, resonance in everything we see. I know from being in Ethiopia that the lady pictured above was a very loving mother and was far older than you could imagine. As we interacted with her with all felt that bond of motherhood and there was much the same about us, despite how different it appears on the surface.

Since Karen opened my eyes to this, I have to admit I've been looking for the light in people. Not every day, I'm not perfect, I don't always remember but when I do I am richly rewarded. I see my new neighbour next door who is full of light, so much so that she practically glows but I also see it in my kids as they annoy me and act out. I noticed it Friday night in the lady that came and sat next to me at a service, we had never met before but we got talking and as part of the service we were asked to write down our impressions of each other and to pass those over. These were proper first impressions and the word that encompassed this lady for me was beautiful. Beautiful and in love with Jesus.

I was so blessed when she gave me her impressions on what she saw in me -
Kind, warm, generous, friendly, sincere, non-judgemental.
Pragmatic and practical, more concerned with deeper, more meaningful issues than with the superficial.
A good friend to have in difficult and good times.
How amazing is it to hear those things from a stranger? We had chatted for barely 10 minutes and she saw all this in me. This lady certainly had the gift to look for the light.

I'm not telling you this so you can hear how great I am, I'm mentioning it as it is so important to look for our own light as well as that of others. I have always tried to adopt the life stance that I'll think well of others until proved otherwise and this light searching fits right in with that, but it dares to go one step further.

Before we talked about our impressions of each other we had to write down how we saw ourself. The first word I wrote? Well fat of course, as sadly I allow that label to dominate me and much of the rest was pretty negative too. I knew I had potential but I did not build myself up and compliment me as I might have others, why is it we are so self-critical?

I dearly need to look for my light and recognise it every day. I'm OK. In fact I'm better than OK, I'm great.

Here is a 20 minute short film we watched as part of the service last Friday. It is mind-blowing, I've never heard of it before but I had been missing out. My favourite line from the film is 'the greater the struggle the more glorious the triumph'. When you have some time, I'd urge you to have a watch, it fits right in with the looking for the light philosophy.

I've got myself a new task to add to my list for the rest of my life - I must look for the light. Do you fancy joining me?

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