Do you remember as a child, the first time you saw a snake’s old skin—there it was, lying on the ground, this fragile, paper-thin, remnant of the snake’s former self? The snake had outgrown its old coat and so it just took it off and slithered away!
We too outgrow our old way of being in the world, but we don’t always shed our old skin quite so easily. Think of things in your life that you have outgrown. Sometimes we lose interest in things that used to fascinate us. Other times we find that we hang onto things long past their usefulness in our lives.
This can be true of possessions. It can also be true of old ways of looking at ourselves. Often times we don’t even realize that we see ourselves in a way that needs to change. We hang on to old ways of seeing ourselves. This can even show up in the way we dress and in the way that we fix our hair.
Have you ever met up with a friend that you haven’t seen in 20 years and their hair is exactly the same as it was 20 years ago? Now maybe it’s just a classic style, but maybe they have never changed the way they look at themselves.
The other day, I remembered an event in my life from when I was 10 years old. It was a conversation with a peer that was painful. I took away the message from it that if I did my best in school, it made others feel inferior. I didn’t stop doing my best, but I took in the message that I might not have any friends if I did. This created a way of looking at myself that I have carried with me my whole life. It creates an element of fear about expansion and growth.
To move past this requires that I let go of that old way of seeing myself—like you take off a pair of old clothes or like the snake—shed an outgrown skin. This is true throughout the course of our lives. We must constantly let go of the old, worn out ways of seeing things so that we are free to keep growing and expanding.
On the spiritual path it becomes essential to our growth and healing. God’s idea for us is enormous—far greater than what will fit into our current picture of ourselves. We have to be willing to “shed our skin” frequently in order to move into the bigger picture of what God has planned for our lives.
So, what is feeling a little tight and outgrown in your life today? You might consider leaving it behind as a paper relic of your past.