Spiritually speaking, “cutting the apron strings,” has been a rather lengthy process as I’ve sought to find my own voice and being comfortable in “my own skin.” I thought about this difficult process again this week when hearing from a former student and he shred these words:
“My entire life I was told what to be, what to do and how to act. I was told if I acted in certain ways I would go to Heaven and if I acted in other ways I would go to Hell. I lived in perpetual fear of Hell because I could never match the way I was instructed to live.
To this day I still struggle with the thought of missing the mark and receiving eternal damnation because of my shortcomings. The lies of this world and present age are powerful manipulators of our conscience. The liars seek to control through fear and do not want us to live in love. There is no fear in love.
Our experiences are ours and there is no right or wrong or good or bad to experience...it just...is. I have missed so much of my life by being concerned about the future and fearful of my mistakes. I have often missed the present reality of being in the moment.
God loves you and has ordained your steps. He has a perfect plan for you and you alone. You are already perfect in every way. Do you struggle with feeling loved and accepted? Have you felt judgement and condemnation from your religious leaders? How have you found acceptance, joy and contentment?”
My sense is that fear –more than anything else – keeps us from embracing our unique voice and authentic self. Fear, really? Yes. Fears, both internally and externally driven, often prevent us living authentic lives. Fear of our experiences, beliefs, lack of conformity, that we just don’t measure up, or an almost pathological desire for acceptance are powerful reasons to keep the apron strings firmly tied!
This Sunday (January 6) is Epiphany, sometimes known as “theophany.” Epiphany simply means “manifestation” – the manifestation of God in our life. My sense is that the feast of Epiphany never gets the attention it deserves, often assuming a lower-level tier on the church’s liturgical calendar.
Traditionally, Epiphany is forever linked with the visit of the Magi to the Christ child. Speaking before the World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the transformational potential of the Epiphany: “Outwardly, their journey was now over. They had reached their goal. But at this point a new journey began for them, an inner pilgrimage which changed their whole lives. ... They had to change their ideas about power, about God and about man, and in so doing, they also had to change themselves. Now they were able to see that God’s power is not like that of the powerful of this world. God’s ways are not as we imagine them or as we might wish them to be.”
It is past time to cut off the apron strings. This Epiphany, as Christ continues to manifest himself in our lives, let us, too, seek to be changed anew.
Glad to be your Pastor,