Do you know yourself? Note that I did not ask, “What do you think about yourself?” A world of difference languishes between the two, awaiting the intrepid individual with courage enough for self-inventory. Some refuse bold introspection because they fear a result something like the opening lines to Dostoyevsky’s “Notes from Underground”: “I am a sick man….I am an angry man. I am an unattractive man….I’m sensitive and quick to take offense, like a hunchback or dwarf.” The lives that matter are the ones who dare to say “I am a sick man,” then quickly turn to the Physician. In the words of Yiddish author Shalom Aleichem: “When you die, others who think they know you, will concoct things about you… Better pick up a pen and write it yourself, for you know yourself best.”
Many of us whittle away our days stumbling over ourselves. Lacking clarity, we fail to see the trees for the forests that loom nearby. “No one longs for what he or she already has, and yet the accumulated insight of those wise about the spiritual life suggests that the reason so many of us cannot see the red X that marks the spot is because we are standing on it” (Barbara Brown Taylor, “An Altar in the World”). Forests are unique to the individual, but each holds potential for revealing trees if we know where to look and are willing to look long and hard enough. We are all tempted to busy ourselves with forests of good things, but lose ourselves in the mix. How long has it been since you reflected on important questions like: “Who am I?” “What is wrong with me?” “What is right in me?” The only real difference between those who ultimately navigate the narrow way and others who meander aimlessly down side roads is that the former are able to contain their fear long enough to filter from the chaos what is true about themselves and what their Creator can do to make it right. Communing with the Creator is a regular necessity, but there is also need for people to take communion with themselves.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:5, 8 NIV)