There are moments when we see the truth of our lives. Moments when we see who we really are, where we really are in the id and ego of this thing called a personality.
In the Christian faith I have found confession and prayer to shine the light on the real me. I have grace and forgiveness when I am on my knees being authentic and real, more with myself than God. God knows. God loves with forgiveness for our humanity.
I have found it sitting on the couch of a therapist as I explore the layers of who I am and how I have been formed.
And many times, I find it in glaring ways- a sort of neon sign showing me the ways I am being led around by my ego mouth and nose, posturing in this world along with the rest of everyone else posturing. We seem to all be clamoring to be recognized as valuable.
Sitting on my couch this morning, shedding the ego, shedding the need to be seen or heard or admired, I see truth in myself, at least a glimmer of it.
We take ourselves too seriously in our ego. It’s myopic, narrow minded, limited and even outside the realm of our true self. I keep asking myself how can I shed this ill formed suit and be authentic with myself and others? How can I live more empowered, walk more in an ego-less love?
My epiphany for 2016 are two simple statements:
- Tell less and ask more
- Look everyday for a way to support others
It’s early February and I’ve already failed more than succeeded with these two statements. But looking at these statements, I see how I can start being more authentic. If I am telling and talking and advising and opinion-ating more than I am asking, listening, observing, and being with another person, it is usually ego trying to artificially promote it’s little kingdom.
We all have a deep desire to be heard, to be seen. Yet, if we could see ourselves in Love’s eyes, in God’s eyes (if this statement doesn’t throw you into some religious kind of rigor), than we feel at peace and have no need to posture ourselves with others. We become open to others in beautiful and mysterious ways.
The second statement, I believe, helps to train me in stepping outside myself. I ask myself from time to time (especially in these moments of shedding tears and seeing the real me and the false me), have I made any impact in another’s life?
We tend to look at saintly people such as Mother Teresa or Mahatma Gandhi and think about the impact they made on thousands, but don’t we have the same ability, the same power?
Sometimes it is the gravity, the immenseness of a problem or challenge that overwhelms us into believing we don’t make a difference. And sometimes we need to look beyond our small, gated fences and see beyond the horizon where there is great suffering and tragedy and do something, as individuals, as groups, as governments.
I am reminded of the largest refugee camp in the far north western region of Kenya, Africa-Kakuma. This refugee camp has been in existence since 1991 and now has four large sections of camps that comprise over 180,000 refugees, many who have fled their own war-torn countries of Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan.
These people are being aided by the Kenyan government and by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). But there isn’t enough food, medicine, and shelter for them. The UNHCR and the Kenyan government cannot keep up with the needs.
Can you imagine having no choices in a refugee camp? Having no medicine for the recent breakout of malaria? Not being able to adequetely feed your children? As someone I know said recently and so descriptively, “We in the USA live in Disneyland compared to many other areas of the world.”
I know this sounds like a tangent of sorts, but it brings home to me so swiftly that I can make a difference. We are all connected on this planet. If I can look each day for a way to support another person, be it through my job, listening to someone and being present with them, giving the guy on the street with the handmade sign a dollar when I am moved to, or learning and being more aware of how I can stay informed and perhaps involved in the real needs of the world, I am doing something outside myself and also for myself.
I know that being human has it’s fickleness, it’s temperamental moods like a New Mexico sky in summer. It may start out bright and clear, and then by afternoon white voluminous clouds gather, turning to a dusky grey and blue, followed by rain showers.
Working on being true and authentic will always be like this. It is our human predicament, and perhaps our human blessing. But if you are with me and I start telling more than asking, give me a loving look and perhaps a gentle prod to put me on the right road to being my authentic self.