I used to love the movie, Pretty Woman, as a teenager. Any time it would come on television, I would watch it. I think it was the romance of it all that got to me. At the time, I was old enough to like romance and young enough to not really understand that the lives presented in the movie weren’t really how the real world of prostitution works.
But still, I like it. And I’m sure next time I see it on the television listings, I’ll let myself ignore the fictional liberties the movie takes, and I’ll let myself get lost in the love story of the two main characters.
It has been a really long time since I’ve last seen it, but one line always sticks out to me. Julia Roberts’ character is in bed with Richard Gere’s character, and he asks her why she always believes the bad that’s spoken to and about her rather than the good. She responds by saying that the bad is just easier to believe.
That line haunted me then, but I was too young to really understand why. Twenty years later, I think I still struggle with it. But now, I think I know a little of what she means. I can look around this world and see negative messages everywhere. Some come from people I know; others come from people I once knew. Some come from complete strangers. Others are from the media.
Basically, everywhere most of us look, we can find mirrors that are more than willing to reflect our weaknesses back to us. They’ll show us our faults, scream in our ears, follow us around, taunting us, telling us we can’t be more, we aren’t more.
And sometimes I wonder where the other mirrors are. Where are the mirrors that show us the good that we do? The people we help? The lives we impact?
Sometimes it upsets me. Sometimes I hear all of these negative messages, and instead of getting overwhelmed and defeated by them, I get angry at them. I wonder why they hound me, why they harass me. I want them to go away. I want to be left in peace.
But when I take a moment to quietly look around, I notice that it’s not that those positive mirrors don’t exist. The problem is that we just choose not to look at them.
I was listening to the radio yesterday, and they were talking about the Bible verse about not hiding your candle under a bushel, about letting it shine. And I felt convicted.
How often do I hide who I am and what I am and what I believe because I am too afraid of the negative mirrors? How often do I believe those negative mirrors even though they may be distorted or absolutely broken? How often do I let my spirit get dampened by the dark rather than fighting to see the positive and let my light shine?
It’s not simple. Like the Roberts’ character said, it’s easier to believe the dark. But I’ve never particularly been of the belief that easy should be our road map.
I don’t have any grand, philosophical conclusions to come to.
All I know is that when I focus on the bad I hear, I feel bad and I want to hide. When I focus on the good, I feel motivated and I want to let my light shine.
And I guess it’s that choice that each of us has to make each morning when we step out of bed to face the day. Will we fight to see the good in ourselves and in others, or will we succumb to the very loud, very pervasive negative messages?
I can’t tell you which choice I’ll make tomorrow. I hope and pray that I veer towards the light and maintain the strength and courage to keep on that track. But if there’s one thing depression has taught me, it’s that the battle is not easy and sometimes we will falter.
So I’m not going to promise you that I’ll win the fight tomorrow. I can’t tell you that I’ll even have much courage to fight. But I will do my best to stay in the ring and I will use whatever courage I have to make sure I at least go down swinging.
And that’s the best any of us can hope for.