Last week I was given this prompt for one of my classes: Why do you support, believe in, follow, or wish to emulate …. (the person, organization, etc., of importance to you)? On the surface, it was a rather simple exercise and I could have easily gone for one of the softball-sized answers that came to my mind. I could have listed my parents, Thomas Merton, or Saint Francis – there are a lot of good people to emulate. But for some reason (I like to make my life difficult) I didn’t want to go that route and I wrestled with being brutally honest with myself.
There are a few truths I have heard about my life: I know that I am a child of God, I am a friend of Christ, and I am accepted. I know I am holy and beloved, chosen by God, and am a new creature. I know I am set free. I have heard, recited, and known these descriptors of myself for a long time. But while these words describe the person God sees me as, I don’t always believe God’s vision. If I’m honest, I wish to emulate the person God knows me to be; I wish to emulate who God sees in me.
It’s an odd thing, because I can tell others that they are summed up by these scriptural qualities, and I thoroughly believe that they are these things. But my scrutinizing self-doubt and savage self-condemnation keep me from fully living into these truths. Instead, I lean into falsities: I’m not good enough. I’m not holy enough. I’m not worthy enough. I don’t always do what’s right. I don’t always speak love. I am more displeased, irritated, and unforgiving of my own short-comings than I am with someone else’s. I can overlook my neighbor’s terrible sins against me but I can’t get over my own little misstep that did no harm but to myself.
When I discover “that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself – that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness – that I myself am the enemy who must be loved,”¹ that is when I know my truest self. And that is when I will begin to know the real ‘me’ whom God sees. When I understand who I am in God’s eyes, when I can honestly emulate that person, and when I can love myself intensely and freely then I will be free to love others just as passionately.
If I can emulate who God sees me as, I can love – love God, love myself, and love my neighbor. When I set free within my soul – within my deepest being – the love and compassion of God to conquer my heart and accept myself as the person God knows me to be, that is when I will truly live and love.
much love. sheth.
1 Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & CO LTD, 1933), 271-272.