A Voice in the Shadowlands

Who are you?

While I might be more than a bit sleep deprived of late (one of the joys of coming of a few medicines your body has decided it likes), I did find that my brain started drifting in similar themes during the course of the day.

It all started this morning. As part of my “getting my act together” I’ve been trying to be more deliberate about certain things. One of them being quiet time. I’m in the process of trying to find a good quiet time study (suggestions are welcome, though I may hold off and use my Sunday School lesson for the next few weeks). This morning I was in a rush, then decided not to hurry too much and go in late, but I digress. While in my rush, I decided a little quiet time is better than none and pulled up a video of a guy who I like (he reminds me of several of my college friends) and does a daily rumination on a section of Scripture. Today’s was on the opening verses at the beginning of Joshua.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

He said something that I hadn’t thought of before. We all think of courage as facing hardships in the outside world, oppression from outside forces, but Brenden mentioned that this also involved the courage to face yourself. To search yourself and find your weaknesses, acknowledge yourself for who you are. It’s a scary thing when you think of it.

Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. I’ve done this. I love and hate doing this. It’s funny though how much of life we tend to spend trying to avoid this. There’s a part of me who envies the people who go through life caught up in things completely outside of themselves and tend to float through existence. I don’t know if it’s the fact that I had philosophy classes in school, or that my brain likes to poke around in itself and cause trouble, but I have a hard time stopping examining myself. Heck, even today e-Harmony or Match.com or whatever the dating site of the day is keeps mentioning being self-aware is important.

We can go our whole lives blissfully unaware of who we really are. Honestly, there are days I think it would be easier to be unaware. I just read today about a convicted woman who ran away from indentured servitude and, for a while, made herself into the person she wanted to be. She went from being Sarah Wilson to Susanna Carolina Matilda, Marchioness of Waldegrave and younger sister to Her Majesty, Queen Charlotte. Everyone else bought it. She got to escape from the list she had been sentenced to and all in all was the toast of the town. There were people who suspected she was fake, but she was able to float through life until her past caught up with her. Then she was forced to return to her life and be who she really was (for a time, she ended up running away again). Sarah’s story reminds me of how so many people attempt to live at one time or another.

The time when I finally had to sit down and go head to head with myself was terrifying. I realized that I hated myself. I had to acknowledge that I felt unloveable, that God, if he were a smart deity, would blast me into atoms instead of look at me. I found myself annoying and whiny. I could be petty. I was incredibly neurotic. No matter how much I grew when I looked into the mirror I saw myself as the kid who was continually picked on and beaten up. If it wasn’t for a friend, I would have run screaming from that mirror into my soul. When I heard what Brenden said today, that feeling came back to me. I realized, driving into work that it wasn’t just Bryan’s hand that held mine as I faced something dark and scary. God was there with me. It’s no surprise that God will be with you against outside forces, but that he’s also your guide down the winding roads of self-discovery. It’s not a lonely journey. It’s a Thelma and Louise kind of adventure.

So…do you know who you are? Have you ventured down that path? Run away from it a thousand times? Never thought of bothering to visit that road? It’s a wild ride, but it’s one you don’t have to do alone and when you have a guide with you, he can interpret what it is that you’re seeing in order to give you understanding. Some of it has to be excavated and tossed out, but those uglier parts of yourself or your history only lead to a more brilliant and faceted jewel at the end.

What’s your story? Who are you?

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