I write about this often because I believe it’s essential to how we live into who God created us to be. We are not educated on how to be in the world or how to navigate relationships. Instead, we’re taught about what to do, what kind of jobs fit our personality, what careers make us the most money, and how to get the American dream.
Life is people. Our relationships are the most significant part of our lives. Yet, we’re not taught emotional awareness, conflict resolution, and other necessary skills that help us relate better to others. We may be nice people, but it takes more than being a nice person to build healthy live-giving relationships. Some of what it takes is knowing how to truly listen, how to communicate our needs, healthy boundaries, understanding the significant role of our childhoods and past relationships and how to heal from the pain of those.
What if this begins with knowing ourselves? What if knowing ourselves is the most important and unselfish work we can do? What if knowing ourselves helps us become who we need to be so that we love others better, and love ourselves better? What if Jesus meant exactly what he said when he said, “Love others as you love yourself.”
And what if we can only love others to the degree we know and love ourselves? And the kind of knowing I mean is the kind that leads us to deeper love and an “understanding that the most ordinary elements of life can be made holy – even our learning, even our labor, even our love.”*
I’ve spent a lot of my life mostly unaware of who I am, why I feel a particular way about something, why I think this, or why I do that. It was like looking through a cloudy lens. My vision was impaired about who I was, about others, and our part in the world. I couldn’t see God fully, or the beauty, the intricacies, and nuances of myself, others, and the world. Not that I see fully yet. None of us do.
In the oft-quoted love chapter of 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote, “We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! (1 Corinthians 13:12 The Message)
But my vision is less impaired. I’m doing the hard work of healing and learning about myself. Exploring the deeper parts of my personality and some unremembered stories of my life. The joy and the pain, the hopes and the grief, the loves, the hurt I’ve caused and the hurt I’ve lived through.
I’m doing this work so that I can be a healing presence in the world. So that I can do the work God has called me to. So that my children will see a better way of living and moving and being in the world. So that I can love others better.
After Paul gives a beautiful description of love and tells us we don’t yet see the whole picture, he lets us know what we can do until then. And he saved the best for last.
“But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.“ 1 Corinthians 13:13
If you’d like to know more about how I am learning more about myself and working toward healing, reach out and I’ll share some resources with you.
*from Steven Garber in Visions of Vocation