A friend gave me a copy of a poem a few weeks ago, and I have looked at it several times. It seems every time I read it, I am struck by a specific word or phrase; however, its not the same word or phrase each time. Sometimes, I can hardly get past the title. The poem goes like this… “Always Remember Who You Are & Why You Are Here For you, created in love, are truly a spark of Divinity… & your most sacred task in this lifetime is to open fully to your spirit, that you may find & use your unique gifts for the benefit of all… grow ever more deeply into your own inner wisdom… and learn to love yourself and those around you as compassionately as possible…and thus, shall your inner light radiate forth, spreading warmth & beauty wherever you go…” By Caroline Adams Though it sounds like something easy to do, it is not a simple task to always remember who we are and why we are here. Each is a daughter of God, created in His image, “truly a spark of Divinity.” As women, each of us has many identities, such as daughter, mother, wife, friend, sister, and many others. With each of these identities come expectations to behave a particular way. Some of these expectations we impose upon ourselves as a result of our past experiences and our hopes for the future. Some of these expectations we allow others to impose upon us. With these expectations come our desire to please others, our desire to be perfect, our desire to be liked and included, our desire to change our bodies, and our desire to succeed. The weight of these expectations can be felt in every aspect of our being. In order to appear from the outside that we have everything under control, we put on our “happy faces.” The happy face mask is the face the outside world sees and perceives us to be. By hiding behind our “happy” masks, we give the illusion to others we are fine, on course, and things couldn’t better. All the while, these masks begin to become a part of us, engrained within us as a thread woven through our story that we tell to others and to ourselves. Sometimes our self-expectations become painful to us because we just can never measure up and fully meet our expectations. Have you ever told yourself, “You knew you couldn’t do it? You get what you deserve. Every one else always has more than I do. If I could just lose this weight/get a better job, then I would be happy. My life is so hard, I wish I could be happy.” Over time, these expectations become so much apart of our being; we lose sight of our authentic self and who we really are and why we are here. The poem speaks of “opening fully to your spirit, that you may find & use your unique gifts for the benefit of all…and to grow ever more deeply into your own inner wisdom.” How do you open your spirit? How do you find your unique gifts? We may look to our friends for answers to these questions, purchase several of the self-help books on the Best Sellers List, and even turn to television doctors for their sage prescriptions for how to find inner peace and live happily ever after. We are searching everywhere, but within ourselves. As we begin to feel that something is missing from our lives, something is keeping us from being fully satisfied, we embark on our journey to find inner peace. To fully open our spirit, we must begin to turn our search inward, rather than searching outside of ourselves. It is at this point, when we feel most alone and most unhappy with our lives and ourselves that God is able to help us. With our brokenness, comes an openness of our heart that God alone can fill. Through our unhappiness, we are able to feel God’s presence. With this inner journey comes the awareness of God and his message to us again and again in the Bible - we are not alone and He is with us. We begin to feel that we really aren’t alone and our heart becomes more full and our spirit becomes more open. By talking to God, honestly talking to God, we discover who we really are. God desires to be in relationship with us. By definition, having a relationship means having a connection, a bond with behavior or feelings toward another. Think about the people close to you…what makes you feel this closeness to them? Its because you make time for them in your life, you talk to them honestly about what is going on in your life and you listen as they talk about what is going on within their life to you. Being in relationship is having two-way communication. You cannot be in relationship alone. God desires to be in relationship with you. He desires for you to make time for him in your life and to speak to him often and honestly about what is going on within your life. It is by making time for God in our lives and through our honest talks with God that we are able to remember who we are and why we are here. This inward reflection provides us with an opportunity to grow more deeply into our own inner wisdom and begin to learn to love ourselves. We begin to love ourselves for who we are and discover the freedom to remove our mask and be our true selves. I hope you will make time for God in your life this week and will talk to him honestly about the mask you wear. Talk to God about your desire to remove your mask and be your true self. Ask God to help you to be able to remove your mask and be the beautiful woman you have been created to be.