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The Face You Wear

Mirrors haunt my existence. My sister loves to tell me how vain I can be when I catch my own reflection. In fact regardless of the conversation, if she catches me looking at myself by accident she will point it out. I guess it’s a nervous tick, but whatever it is it is unintentional. But mirrors remind us of what we look like. They show us how we appear to others. They help us notice the wrinkles in our clothes that we need to iron out, or the messed up part in our hair. Mirrors show us the blemish, the bump, the bisecting lines of ages creeping into the corners of our eyes. Stark reality is reflected by a the soulless, careless, and sometimes hateful piece of glass laid over silver paint. And yet, mirrors do not reveal all that is there at a passing glance.

Sure many a person has been able to look into a mirror and self loathe. That is but a casual glance in reality. You are more than a reflection of the world. You are more than the jeans you are trying to fit into, or the new style you’re trying to find the confidence to “rock”. You are more than the face that looks back at you in the looking glass, so much more.

In all humanity, no matter how great or small there is a light. It is a light reflecting something greater and deeper than we can really understand. It doesn’t matter if you share the faith that I have. The light is still there, and it is seen in the face that you wear. Not the folds and smoothness of the skin that you see, but in that somewhat vague term of countenance. There are almost 1200 faces that I see everyday for eight hours. If I look really hard during class changes and think, I can visualize in each person that light. Adolescent children are really quite an amazing phenomenon.

Whether by fate or some strange coincidence it seems that life in the family turns completely upside down at about the time children hit middle school. It is reflected in the light in their eyes. Some are so bright and brilliant that it warms your heart to be around them. The joy of what is to come and the excitement of something new each day just emanates from them. That kind of light reminds you of what you had at one time. Yet, others wear a different face. It’s like a shroud over the light inside. As if a some smoke or haze is seeking ever to extinguish the life of this young person. The world around them feels cold, distant, an echo of what it should be.

There is another face I see. It is the face of the person who seeks to remove the shroud, to bring to the front the light and chase out the shadow. It’s not always the teachers. Many times it’s the parents that come and volunteer, the counselors, the parents, and other staff who cannot simply live and be unaffected by those around them. These faces bring out the best in others. They radiate. Still one more face do I see. It is not one pleasant to look at. It is a face that is seeking, hunting, desiring ever to put out any light that may point out its ugliness.

What kind of face are you wearing? You don’t have to work with young people to affect someone else’s life in a way that greatly increases them. You will, however, have to make some effort to change what you look like. It’s not makeup, or clothing, or hair style; it’s the constant realization that the countenance you carry can indeed show the world what you are about. If you are a person that wants to see the good in others that will show. If you simply want to tear down the world and make it your own wasteland that you feel you live in, so be it. Other people will see that in you.

I spoke with a student this week about a rather major incident in his life that could and probably will have far reaching consequences from this week on. This was not your typical trouble maker, or bully. This was a child with a mischievous streak that could be humorous and still very close to the line of being well behaved. Yet this mistake was so far beyond his own understanding. Doubt was gnawing on this kid so hard. You could see it in his entire body. Like someone had walked into the room of his soul and flipped on the light switch. I didn’t have much that I knew to say other than to pass on a piece of wisdom passed on to me when I was a little bit older than this young person…

You are more than this situation, this does not define who you are or who you will become, unless you allow it to. Your choice is to rise above, or fall below. So I pass that on to you as well. You are so much more than the reflection of the world in your mirror, and you are so much more than the sum of your past mistakes. Don’t where the face of such things.

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