We spend most of our lives trying to figure out who we are. Part of what makes this an endless quest are the constant shifting forces within and around us. That is, there is a river of movement in our soul ~ we are being continually remolded and remodeled inside through different experiences and encounters with the world outside. John O'Donohue says that the task of life is to build a bridge between the world within us and the world outside of us...and we are continually constructing that bridge because things change. Not just in the year of a pandemic and a political election and social unrest. The shifts may be more subtle and slight...but they are always there.
I think about this particularly today as my kids start back to school. The relationship within their world inside and outside is changing. They know this visually as they walk out the door wearing masks, but also internally thinking it is a brand new year with new teachers and new learnings awaiting them.
The above song sings about how we are shaped by the world around us. I long to be brave to show the world the wounds and wants, but I realize that is not what we are taught. In fact, the song seems to suggest that you need to hold your head high amid the hurt and harm people hurl at you. While that causes my heart to be strangely warmed, the reality is it is hard. When faced with criticism, it is difficult. When someone says that I need to do something better or I make a mistake, it is like a thousand paper cuts in the soul.
Trying to figure out who you are is tough because of the voices inside and outside. It is not just that you should only listen internally as the only way to live authentically. My relationships, especially with my family, matters and molds me. My relationship with God reforms and refashions me. My relationships with the church, community, and country are also thrown into the mix. No wonder it is hard to sort out and shout out, "This is me!" "Me" is not static. "Me" cannot be manufactured or microwaved. "Me" is organic, responding to the slow work of the spirit growing inside and the element that I weather outside.
Yet, to take stock of the "me" as I understand that word right now. To take stock of what is growing, shifting, swirling inside and outside, is holy work.
I invite you to ponder these questions
1. What are three values you want to live today?
2. What new growth do you need to nurture?
3. What relationships matter - to whom are you connected?
4. What ways to the elements of the world impact you - positively and negatively?
5. What prayer would you write for yourself given the responses above?
I pray for more than a trace of God's grace as you pray and live the questions above.