My mother was the first to teach me that candles have “memory.” When you light a jar or pillar candle the first time, you must let it burn for a few hours until the wax pools all the way to the edges.
You see, the candle remembers how far the wax pooled that first time, and it will only burn to that boundary every time you light it. A small wax pool means your candle will tunnel as it burns. It will waste the majority of the wax. It can’t break free of that early pattern. It remembers.
This morning my family comes into my bedroom with presents for Mother’s Day. Two scented jar candles, wrapped in tissue, roll out on the bedspread. My oldest daughter has breakfast on a tray for me, and as I look at this little family around me and light my candles, I think about candle memory.
Will I ever break free from old patterns? Am I doomed to candle memory in my own soul?
Sometimes life feels so limited by our destructive patterns–set deep in stone–that we cannot change. But I don’t want a narrow life! I don’t want to tunnel down–bringing my children with me–because of old patterns set by the world, the flesh, and the devil (as Scripture teaches). All morning in church, I think of the hopelessness of that candle memory and of a life that cannot ever break free from a set pattern or false belief.
I need to recover from the patterns of thought–lies I believe–about where my hope and security originate.
In church, I look and see rows and rows of folks in recovery from drugs and alcohol. A few minutes before, I shake hands with a woman who tells me (in the same breath) her name and her reality: I’m in recovery. She’s been clean two weeks.
What can break the old pattern? Who can erase the narrow boundaries and set us free? That new friend knows her name and her reality. She’s in recovery. Day by day, she embraces a new reality, a new pattern. It’s Jesus in her–the only One who can set us free from the prison of ourselves.
That’s what I think about when I light this Mother’s Day candle. Candle memory may seem final, but there’s a Light that knows no boundaries and can expose any false pattern. I invite Jesus in–all the way to the far edges–and let my heart melt and pool deep and wide.
Journal: Do you ever feel trapped by an old pattern?