Reclaiming Who and What We Are: The Power of Symbols

A few hours ago in my full time work as a street outreach crisis counselor I had the opportunity to facilitate a gang intervention with a young person. There were many positive seeds planted in this young person’s life before what occurred this evening, and for that I am grateful. There was also a lot of weeding out negative seeds that were planted in this young person’s life before what happened this evening, and for that I am even more grateful.

Life, for each of us, is about tending to our personal garden. Weeding out that which hinders and chokes the life, dreams, truth and beauty of who and what we truly are. Tilling the soil. Planting wholesome, loving seeds. Allowing the sunshine of laughter and bliss, as well as the cleansing water from tears of both sadness and joy to work in their beautiful unison to grow the love that’s been planted. It’s work. A beautiful work. A labor of love. When we’re children we lovingly tend to our garden and help others do the same. For some, over time, we begin to pull away from tending to our garden because of the voices of lies that come through some people. Lies told through people like, “You’re not good enough.” “You’re not pretty enough.” “You’re not handsome enough.” “You’re not smart enough.” The list of lies pointing out all that we’re not goes on and on, and it’s sad that it does. Remember: fear always lies within lies, and lies always lie within fear. Only the fearful tell themselves and others what they’re not. Only the courageous tell themselves and others what they are. And the truth of who and what you are is beyond words, however the best words I know to remind you of who and what you are, are the same four words that every youth and young adult I’ve had the honor to serve in my twenty-six year career are: sacred, blessing, miracle, gift. Yes, you’re a sacred blessing, miracle, and gift. We all are.

There is no script for interventions, whether the intervention is for sex trafficking, drugs, alcohol, gangs, violence, homelessness, or suicide. An intervention is truly walking the razor’s edge, simply because interventions are life or death situations for the person you are serving, as well as for you, the interventionist. In situations where you have minutes, sometimes seconds, to get a person to put down a loaded gun, drop a knife or box cutter, not jump into traffic, or make an exodus from a lifestyle that is certain to end in early death or incarceration, but is the only lifestyle the person thinks can meet their basic needs, a life they’ve become used to, and sadly, is often something that isn’t any less dangerous or painful as what the person experienced behind the walls within the house they lived in as a child. 

There are only two things that are a must for me whenever I facilitate an intervention. The first thing is that I need to make sure I am not the one who is facilitating the intervention. I get out of the way and pray, “God, You know what this person needs, not me, so please, You do this through me. Use me, Lord.” The second thing is that the first words the person hears from me is, “You are a sacred blessing, miracle and gift.” And these are not mere words, it is as close as words can get to describe who and what that person truly is. And in a world where we are bombarded with all the things we are not, when someone hears a sincere reminder of who and what they are, it penetrates deeply, beyond the mental, it’s a connection that is felt and not just cognitive, that interrupts someone’s pattern of crisis and opens the door of dialogue, pacing, leading, and de-escalation. Like being funny or knowing how to fight, an intervention cannot be faked. The words you are a sacred blessing, miracle and gift, have to be from such a deep, heartfelt, Spirit-led place of sincerity that they penetrate the lies and instantly remind the person of their truth and worth of greatness and beauty. For me, if someone cannot see you as a sacred blessing, miracle and gift, they cannot see you. Again today, by the grace and guidance of God, I witnessed this transformation happen with a young person who was on the fence about leaving gang life. I was called in, so I called God in, and it happened.

When that young person heard the words you’re a sacred blessing, miracle and gift. You’re not a gangster, you’re a Godster. You’re a child of God, she shook and tears welled up in her eyes. She instantly remembered when and why she stopped believing that about herself, and because she was being seen as the sacred blessing, miracle and gift she is, she was willing to see, hear and believe that about herself again and reclaimed her truth. She made the internal transformation and wanted the internal change to be matched with an external change, so she gave me all her items that were gang affiliated. One of the items she gave me was a rosary she wore only because its color matched that of the gang she was previously affiliated with. In exchange I gave her a tree of life necklace, so that she now has a symbol to wear that represents healing, positive growth, beauty, and positive transformation. She’s also going to get a new rosary, not to wear, but to use to pray and remind her of what she is whenever she’s bombarded the lies of what she’s not.

Symbols bypass the conscious mind and go straight to the subconscious mind, creating a strong current of direction within a person’s life. Are the symbols you’ve allowed in your life, be they words, items or thoughts, reflecting the truth that you’re a sacred blessing, miracle and gift? If not, then it may be time to weed your garden of any lies and anything that represents lies, and take that seventeen inch walk from your head back to your heart.

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