10 “This & That’s” of the HEART of WHO YOU ARE
During one particular season in my life, I took lots of family photos. I was diligent about making scrapbook photo albums for each year. I created pages and pages about the activities and events in our family’s life. But inevitably, I would have single, random photos that didn’t go with an event, yet still had something to say. I couldn’t leave them out, but there was no obvious place to put them. Finally, I made a page called “This & That” so these precious pictures would have their spot.
This is how I see this final blog on WHO YOU ARE: here are important, precious, random quotes, musings, and thoughts that didn’t make the pages of the previous posts. May they be a reminder of what was previously said and take you further in discovering your HEART and WHO YOU ARE.
1. Remember there are two parts to who you are: Human and Spiritual. Richard Rohr said this in one of his daily devotions. Something to think about:
Catherine of Siena in her Dialogues pictures the spiritual life as a large tree:
- The trunk of the tree is love (God).
- The core of the tree, that middle part that must be alive for the rest of the tree to be alive, is patience.
- The roots of the tree are self-knowledge.
- The many branches, reaching out into the air, are discernment.
In other words, says Catherine, love does not happen without patience, self-knowledge, and discernment. Today we have little encouragement toward honest self-knowledge or training in spiritual discernment from our churches. We prefer the seeming clarity of black-and-white laws. By nature, most of us are not very patient. All of which means love is not going to be very common. We need St. Catherine’s tree again.
2. Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. –Aristotle
Self Knowledge–understanding who we are, taking a really good look at what we are doing and how we are being–is important. One of the defining characteristics of being human is our ability to be conscious—to be aware, to be mindful. Therefore, being conscious of our self is vitally important to become who we truly are. The most difficult phase of life is not when no one understands you; It is when you don’t understand yourself. –unknown
3. Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive. –Howard Thurman
I didn’t get into this too much in the past posts, but another aspect of WHO YOU ARE is what brings you alive. The things that you love to do. The things that you get lost in. The things that make you feel icredibly joy-filled. The things that stir your heart to action and accomplishment. These are your passions and determine your PURPOSE. And they have been given to you for a reason. Each of us has been given gifts, talents, activities or causes that we have a desire to do. You were made to do those thing and to do those things in a way no one else would. Here are some ways to figure some of those out:
- In the 4 part series on Journaling, I gave an exercise that helps you define your passions. Go to the past posts on JOURNALING and do the fill in the blank exercise: When my life is idea I will be or have ______. The exercise has several steps and they are highlighted in Part 2, 3 and 4 of the journaling posts.
- Take a spiritual gift assessment test: Discover Your Spiritual Gifts
- Journal your answers these questions:
- What do others compliment you most on?
- What are your talents?
- What are you trained in?
- What experiences have you had in your life that have shaped who you are?
- What do you love to do that you can’t wait to do?
- What activity do you love to do that you loose track of time doing?
- What matters to you?
- What is worth doing, even if you fail?
- What were you doing when you had times of great joy, bliss, honest contentment or fulfillment?
- What things are you really good at?
- What is the crazy thing you’ve always wanted to do?
- If you had a whole day to yourself and all your obligations have been taken care of, what would you do?
- Fill in the blank with as many things as come to mind: Meaningful work to me is __________.
4. Your TRUE SELF is really spiritual.
When all else fades away in our life—titles, roles, status—what we are left with is our TRUE SPIRIT SELF. From the biblical perspective, here are a few things the bible says about WHO WE ARE:
- we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:4)
- we were created in the likeness of God (Gen 1:27; Gen 5:1),
- God is love and created us out of love (1 John 4:8),
- He made us for a purpose (Prov 16:4)
- He can work all things for His good purpose (Rom 8:28)
- God is perfect (2 Sam 22:31; Rom 12:2) thus is incapable of making mistakes
- we are living in fallen world due to selfishness/sin (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 5:10) but
- we can do all things through Christ (Phil 4:13).
Here is what we can conclude about WHO WE ARE spiritually from above:
- there is no mistakes in how you are made
- the core of who you are is God-like and capable of perfection (don’t think in worldly ways here)
- you are deeply loved and capable of this also
- all the experiences you’ve had and will have in life, God can make for good and for a good purpose
- you are the perfect person for your purpose and God is making that so
- you can be all that you were created to be with God’s help
5. I acknowledge and do not deny that you love me before I existed, and that you love me unspeakably much, as one gone mad over your creature. — Saint Catherine of Siena
God is crazy-mad in love with us. Are you crazy in love with God? Are you crazy in love with you? Are you crazy in love with others? Do you believe you are capable of this? If we allow God’s love to reflect through us, we can be crazy lovers…even back to our self which is so vital to being who you truly are.
6. Love transforms one into what one loves. We looked at this quote in a previous post. Here is another thought on this quote:
If we transform into what we love, then who are we becoming? What do you love? If it is anything other than God than you probably won’t become WHO YOU ARE as the crazy loving being that God intended you to be. We are meant to love. But very easily, we can end up loving the wrong things. Idols, for example, are things that can take our love from God. They come in many forms–money, work, our body, a person, drugs, alcohol, porn, food. When we use these things to define our identity, for fulfillment, or to meet our need for love, acceptance, significance or belonging, we create an idol. Our God-given gifts (talents and strengths) and passions (activities you get lost in or make your spirit soar) can also become idols. Be ever mindful. As long as what you love is an extension of love and NOT a source for love, then wholeheartedly pursue it.
7. Now how can those who do not know their own sinfulness recognize and correct it in others? They are neither able nor willing to go against themselves. –St. Catherine
WRECKED has recently become a popular slang word. People say, “she wrecked me,” or “that movie wrecked me.” What they are talking about is the mind blowing, perception changing, overwhelming positive or negative effect that something had over them. The dictionary definition of the word is to ruin, damage, or destroy.
Be brave and let God’s love WRECK YOU—in both definitions! Be willing to ‘go against yourself’ and see how you are being due to thoughts and lies you believe about WHO YOU ARE. Who are you trying to be? How are you protecting yourself and your image? What unloving behaviors are you engaging in out of fear? Recognizing and owning our unloving ways is painful. But if we allow this self awareness, we can destroy the image that is trying to make us something we are not. God’s love also can wreck us because it is mind blowing, a perception changer, and can have an overwhelmingly positive effect on us. I dare say that most of us are still wrestling with (1) how can God love us when we are so unloving and sinful, and (2) trying to grasp God’s love through the story of Jesus and his resurrection. Both of those have no shortage of mind blowing, life changing power. If we allow ourselves to receive God’s love it will destroy AND repair us. Dying to self and becoming a new creation happen when we allow God to wreck us. Only the descent into the hell of self-knowledge can pave the way to godliness. –Immanuel Kant
8. In Self Love, there is always the danger of self hate. In self hate, there is always the possibility of self love.” –Tina Ng
Only in attempting great love for others, God or our self can we see our failings—how unloving we can be. However, it is in these moments when we have the opportunity to love the most. How ironic! Our tendency is to go into denial, justify our behavior, blame others, berate our self, give up, or fall into despair and self pity. If we can, in those moments, love our selves we honor WHO WE ARE. Oswald Chamber says when we realize or receive conviction about our unloving ways (or someone else’s), it is God’s call to intercession, never faultfinding. Intercession has no judgment, ridicule and criticism in it; instead it is characterized by acceptance and compassion. If you spent as much time loving yourself as you do at running from or hating yourself, who do you think you’d be or become?
9. Sometimes I pretend to be normal, but it gets boring, so I go back to being me. –Unknown
This makes me chuckle because what is ‘normal’? We allow many things (family, society, friends, church, etc) to tell us what is normal, and, if we don’t live up to that, we pretend. We can end up living a false, unauthentic version of WHO WE ARE. This is hurtful to our self, God, and others! We are meant to be exactly who and what we are in our glorious, precious, messiness! Loving your self is JUST BEING YOU! When you get to heaven God will not judge you for not being like your ultimate mentor or spiritual hero, God may judge you for not being YOU! Loving myself is bringing every part of myself out into the light to be seen and accepted…by me! –unknown
10. Lastly, I want to share an inspiring music video to end this blog series! Don’t let other people’s words or your circumstances define who you are.
I’d love to hear your heart. Leave a comment or share a thought on what you’ve discovered about WHO YOU ARE.