Monday, 5 June 2017

Five lifehacks I learnt from a rather inexpensive IKEA lamp!

Hi Diary,

I love it when the most mundane things around my house teach me something! A hamster cage, an apple, even a solar panel, they have all taught me valuable lessons or "life hacks" as we call it now. Not long ago, this little lamp has taught me something also. It kind of felt as if it was talking to me. Quite amazing considering that the lamp doesn't even seem to have a mouth. But let's start at the beginning...

Long time ago, I bought this little lamp at IKEA in Europe and it has been on my night table for many years now. Always silent, but always ready to shine. That's what it's made for. The years went by and some were happier than others, but this little lamp never had anything to say. With two ears and two eyes it seemed to observe and listen but it never spoke. After's just a lamp! Right?

But this little lamp has seen me cry. Just like you. Did you ever wonder why? Without going into details, let me just say that my childhood has included less ups and more downs and I have often felt unwanted, unworthy and also very angry at times. As I journeyed through the years, battling with feelings of rejection and shame, I have cried many tears, especially at night.  But I did what everyone else seem to be doing: in the morning, I put on a smile and I journeyed on. All the while, deep inside, I was hiding a profound sadness that no one seemed to understand and only I knew that my smile frequently was fake. I became a wife, then a mother and I still carried the sadness inside. Then, one day seven years ago, I faced a major burnout, a dangerous illness and a desperate need to heal. Several years of physical and emotional healing followed and today, by the grace of God, I am now completely healed. But in the process, I did cry many more times and all through these years this little lamp was a silent witness to my tears.

Then, on a very normal day when I was just cleaning my room, I switched the lamp on and noticed some dark spots inside. Some kind of dirt seem to have accumulated on the inside of the lamp that couldn't be wiped away from the outside, not unless I took it apart. The dirt on the inside didn't change the purpose of the lamp, but it did seem to dim the light quite a bit and in a very sudden and unexpected moment of self-reflection, I really felt sorry for that lamp. Because I realized, that for many years now, I felt that my light had been dimmed. Rejection seems to have a sure way of dimming our light! It can leave us feeling diminished or "unable to shine".

People are rejected daily and write in their diary, so I have no doubt that you know what I am talking about. I have been rejected by my own dad. But others might have been rejected by a spouse or a superior at work or anyone else. I know that even the smallest kids at school already have stories of rejection to tell. How sad! There are so many ways that we can end up feeling rejected and while every type of rejection seems to have a way of leaving us feeling sad, unloved and unworthy, some actually have the potential of leaving us almost "dirty" inside. Not real dirt of course, but some kind of unwanted and undeserved guilt or shame and like with this little lamp, it seems to accumulate over the years.  

So, on the day when I was cleaning my house, my little lamp finally opened it's (invisible) mouth and ended up teaching me five important things. Here they are:

1. Each and every one of us is made for a purpose and this purpose doesn't change, no matter how much baggage or "dirt" we accumulate inside! Rejection can make us feel unworthy and "dimmed" but it still doesn't change the fact that there's a reason for you and me being here. Perhaps you don't know your "purpose", neither did I, but having regular quiet times sure did shed some light on it for me. (Pardon the pun!) The point the little lamp was making to me is, that even if you are feeling a little dirty can still shine! Shine, whenever you have an opportunity, even if you are not squeaky clean! 

2. Nobody is perfect. Most likely everyone has a little bit of "dirt" building up within. Unfortunately this little lamp cannot clean itself and neither can I. It can only be cleaned by it's creator or supplier (IKEA) or the buyer (me) but it clearly cannot clean itself. That gave me a bright idea! Since God is my creator and Jesus paid for me at the cross, they must be the ones I ought to ask to cleanse me if I am in trouble and unable to shine. In the past, I have tried many times to cleanse myself of all my sad feelings, but they always came back. However, once I asked God to take care of them, when I finally started to pray that He would take them away...surprise! Little by little they disappeared and with them went the guilt and shame. The words in Psalm 51:7 "Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean, scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life." (MSG) became a personal reality for me, even if I'm not snow-white yet!

3. The "position" of the lamp doesn't affect its purpose at all. Think about it. it is totally irrelevant where you place this little lamp, where it stands or where you plug it in. Its purpose is always to shine and it can shine absolutely anywhere. In a one-room apartment or in a mansion, at home or at work, the purpose of the lamp is not to find the right place to stand, the purpose has always been and will always be - just to shine! If and when it needs to. Likewise, I believe that God also has a purpose for each and everyone of us and I am sure that it is not about position or wealth either. It really doesn't matter whether I am a Home Executive or a Board Executive, a street vendor in India or a boutique owner on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. What matters is that, for today, I give it the best I can, wherever I am!

4. My favorite bible teacher often says, "Live by example and talk only if absolutely necessary." This is certainly the case with this little lamp and no surprise, considering that it has two ears, two eyes and a nose, but no mouth. Living by example, is much more effective than living by "speech", especially with children. Ask any mom! But I must admit, that I have been somewhat challenged by that. I do like to talk and sometimes I still talk too much. But I am trying and every day I hope to do a bit better than on my last.

5. And one more thing! I have learnt from my little lamp that when my energy runs low it is time to plug in! Plugging in can mean different things to different people. I like to sit still for a little while and just be quiet. But you might like to move and go to gym or have a breakfast with a good friend at a local Café. Whatever you fancy, whether you ponder about life and read the bible or dance around in your own living room, as long as you recharge your batteries and take a few minutes away from your will definitely help to be able to shine again for the rest of the day!

So, these are the 5 things that this little lamp has taught me so far and I mostly need to remember that, especially as a mom, it doesn't matter so much what I say to my children, it matters that I look at them, listen to them, breathe deeply before I reply and...try to shine. Thinking before I speak and living by example are things I still have to practice every day. But I am sure I am not the only one. These 5 lessons probably apply to anyone, not just moms! I might have accumulated some "baggage" or "dirty spots" over time and I do sometimes feel a little "dim", but when I plug in, well, I really do get a good clean and then I remember that I am meant to shine. I know now that we can't fix the past, but we can live each day better than our last! Tomorrow is a new day, so let's try...

If anyone can think of anything else that this little lamp might be able teach me, please do leave me a comment below! I do hope that this post has lit up someone's day just a tiny bit and that we all...


(All photos are my own.)

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