Sometimes I look in the mirror and I am shocked at the guy staring back at me. No, I don’t scare myself. I just don’t recognize who i see sometimes. I like the guy in the mirror. He is just an older, more mature version of what I expect. Sometimes, he’s not what I expect at all. Let me explain.
For a long time I have had a mental picture of myself. Several actually. From time to time I must be in one of those mind frames, because when I look in the mirror I expect to see myself that way. It is like I temporarily forget how far I have come. I have come a long way…
I grew up in small town USA…also known as several towns across the southern part of Oklahoma. I was never an athletic kid. I was a bit chunky and unsure of myself. To this day I carry a mental image of myself from some of the school photographs that were taken in elementary school. I don’t guess I ever told my mom when photo day was going to be as I showed up for one photo shoot in a blue sweatsuit and another time I showed up in a sleeveless shirt.
When I was 12 we moved to a new town and I remember feeling glad that we were starting over at a new place. I remember wanting to be different than I was. It didn’t take long in our new town and I looked like a different guy. Granted, I was 12 and hit my first major growth spurt…I went from 5’4” to 5’9” or so in one summer. I was no longer a chunky kid. I was a lanky kid who took a while to get used to his body.
As I got into high school, my self image got a huge boost. It was the 90’s and I had a huge pair of glasses and a chili bowl haircut, but I was starting to be more comfortable in my own skin. I started getting girlfriends sometime in this stretch too. That was a confidence booster as well. By my senior year I was 6 feet tall and in the best shape of my life to that point. I remember graduating high school feeling ready to take on the world.
I can think over several snapshots like this from over the years. I see myself clearly in college trying to come to grips with what I wanted to do with my life. Did I really want to be a choir teacher? Noble profession, but not for me. Incidentally, thank God I didn’t have to have it all figured out at that point. I remember the pressure of feeling like I was getting it wrong. I was, but I had time.
I remember meeting my beautiful bride for the first time and the way I felt when I realized that I had found the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. It was so awesome and so strange to see myself as an adult who was making a lifelong vow to love and care for someone else. It is a decision that I give my all to to this day.
I remember the way I felt when my boy was born and he was put into my arms for the first time. His mama had just been through so many hours of labor and I remember the feeling of knowing I was there to take care of her and our precious baby boy.
I have stared at the man in the mirror so many times through this life. At different times I can see one of the versions of myself staring back. I am amazed at how far I have come. I have come through ups and downs, good times and bad, health and sickness…by the grace of God I am still here. I am thankful. I don’t always recognize the man in the mirror, but that’s ok. I’m still enjoying getting to know him.