On the Corner


So who are you?

Got any idea?

Who defines you–I mean that voice in your inner ear that repeats on closed-loop tape your every strength and weakness?

Are you held captive to that voice–locked away with a rigid perception of yourself–feeling bound by a series of cans and can’ts–of shoulds and shouldn’ts–of nevers and always and musts and mustn’ts?

If I were to search every aspect of you–who would I find? Do you know? How much of you is simply and completely you–and how much is actually involved in living out the expectations of someone else?

Let’s face it. We’re human. Our interactions with others at key stages of our lives have shaped the way we perceive ourselves–the way we label ourselves–our attitudes toward ourselves and others.

But how much does that interaction imprison you? Maybe you find yourself deep down in solitary –defined completely by others? You’ll never be able to answer that “imprisoned” question without making a significant effort to start with answering the first one at the top of this column. You’ll never be fully authentic or completely genuine as a person without first figuring out what keeps you inauthentic.

For instance, how do you conceptualize yourself–in other words, what kinds of labels do you use to describe yourself to yourself? What kinds of feelings do you have about yourself–positively optimistic or negatively pessimistic?

You’ve got to figure out who’s calling the shots in your life and kick your own contribution well up over the fifty percent mark. You can speak up to these other voices. Maybe you’ll want to thank them –or maybe you’ll want to tell them to lighten up, that you can handle things–that you appreciate their interest, but it’s time you became a little more autonomous on your road to authenticity.

Remember, if you’re not authentic–you’re a fake.

Now–what about you from a spiritual perspective? Spirituality is an aspect of our lives, you know –or do you? Do you ever talk to God? Do you believe he’s there for you? Do you ever stop asking him for things and just take time to explore yourself with him? Do you ever stop talking to him and listen?

God will not impose himself on us. He comes on request. But if you knock on his door, he’ll open it. Who will he find there? Will he know you? If you really want to know and understand God better–start with knowing yourself better. If you know yourself, you can quiet the noise in your life sufficiently to hear what he has to say. You can still the other voices in your head to give him pre-eminence.

Maybe God’s the one with the key to that prison cell–to free us from the shackles of inauthenticity–to open the doors that we have constructed in our lives designed to limit us from being truly real–genuinely autonomous. We get to know God better as we know ourselves better–and it’s synergistic–as we get to know ourselves better, we know God better–and the sum is greater than the parts.

Because Jesus was fully human he experienced all the joys and sorrows life provides. He knew what it was like to be disappointed–to be misunderstood–to be taken for granted–to have great expectations placed upon him–demands made of him–to be loved and admired and worshiped. He knew what it felt like to be crucified.

As we experience the integrated aspects of the God-head in us and are confronted by the essence of this being, who we truly are is illuminated. We discover that part of us that is real–that part of us that is fake. From that point on, we have a choice. To take what we discover and grow or to ignore it and wither.

Can we say with the Psalmist:

Search me o God and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

I hope so!

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