by Reverend Lana Charlton
Women’s reflections are everywhere in the world today. Politically, socially, spiritually, we have been learning to stand up for ourselves and each other. Yet, that word reflection is an interesting word for us women. Its etymology suggests diverting, deflect, turn aside, shine back like a mirror. Is this what we have been doing subconsciously, deflecting and diverting our inherent light and gifts?
Anyone who has worked to change their thinking knows it takes time. I’m not talking about a habit you broke. I’m talking about the “map” our brains grow so that we become predisposed to react or feel certain ways going through life. We could blame it on the neural peptides in the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is where these chemicals are assembled and matched up to certain emotional experiences that “map” our perceptions, our consciousness. With thousands of years of patriarchal societal rules, the inner map in consciousness is slow to change.
There is an African proverb that suggests, “It’s not what you call me, but what I answer to.” What names have women been willing to be called, called each other, but sadly answered to as if deserved on some level?
As a woman minister, I have had many conversations regarding this subject. One beautiful woman-friend wrote this: “This topic is so personal for me. Just last night I was "reflecting" on how far I have come mentally with respect to my relationship with the opposite sex. Until about age 40 plus, I thought I had to be subservient and silence myself to be in a relationship with a man. There were a lot of subconscious fears from witnessing the women of my childhood being beaten and disrespected and abused. So, yes, I have felt the sting and degradation of sexism more than I have racism because I dared to be bright and smart and self-sufficient.” She added a quote, James Allen: “The oppressed and the oppressor are co-conspirators in ignorance."
Personally, I wonder if some of us have an Inner Mean Girl lurking, waiting to catch ourselves slipping up. It is so easy in the old “map” of consciousness to still believe I’m never enough. This inner bully is the slave driver, doing junkie, perfection addict, doing all the work yourself because you can and always have. Or, this same bully can wear us down to such a degree we are depressed and distressed that we quit trying. The irony of the Inner Mean Girl is she might run you ragged enough that you reach great success, but be totally unable to enjoy it or celebrate it, or yourself.
Shakti Gawain suggests, “The people we are in relationship with are always mirrors, reflecting our own beliefs, and simultaneously we are mirrors, reflecting their beliefs. So…relationship is one of the most powerful tools for growth. If we look honestly at our relationships, we can see so much about how we have created them.” Are we mirroring enough love and respect for each other, as women, in our society today?
Who is that woman in the mirror reflecting (deflecting, diverting, bending backwards) today? Have you forgotten your own power and purpose? The great writer of The Color Purple, Alice Walker, tells us today, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” That book was a powerful fiction of real and true stories of women finding and living from the power they had to find and use.
During May we celebrate Mother’s Day. When all people—women and men—realize we are all giving birth to our lives, daily, through dreams, intentions, and finally our actions, we will truly celebrate the deeper meaning of the Divine Mother, which dwells in all of us.
We have new maps to new territory. The old wound still exists but the “road less traveled” is becoming a highway.
Reverend Lana Charlton is the senior minister at Unity Gateway Church, Coral Springs, and writes for numerous worldwide, national, and local publications. See ad page 23.