Sometimes it seems like there are two types of people:
On one hand there are the those of us who are always fighting back the need to feel significant. We look at heroic individuals and feel insecure or guilty that we aren’t more like them. We look at our mundane lives and wonder about what could have been. We feel lost and trapped in the normalcy of our jobs, friendships, and hobbies. We often ask this question: “Why can’t we do something more meaningful?”
On the other hand there are those of us who overcompensate our apparent fear of insignificance by pretending we are of importance. We walk with a strut, look at ourselves too long in the mirror, and think that we are God’s gift to other people. We often ask this question: “When will everyone see how unique I am?”
If I’m most honest, I am both of those people at times.
But what if there is a third hand? What if we could live on the other, other hand? The truth is that we can, and just like having a third hand seems counterintuitive and outside of normal biology, there is in fact a higher logic and new way that won’t make sense to us at first. Jesus called this a new wineskin, or being born again. This other, other hand breaks the mold and challenges us to live differently.
Living life on the other, other hand means that our identity does not come from this world, but from God who calls us his child. He made us, gave us life, forgave us, bled for us, and resurrects us. In him we are significant, not because of what we have to offer, but what He already offered. This is the most freeing and liberating truth. We don’t have to have all the answers do the darkness, we just need to trust the light.
When we feel like we are nobody we need to remember that we are alive and that this alone is a miracle. We must awaken to the infinite beauty always around us, and remember that we too are beautiful; and not just beautiful, but loved by the divine Himself. We need perspective. We need humility.
When we feel like we are somebody we need to remember that we did not make ourselves, nor do we in any way hold things together. We need to be reminded that the world existed before we came into being, and will continue to exist after we die. We need perspective. We need humility.
The fact of the matter is that we are already significant, but not by our own will, but because of the great Will. The battles we have been fighting all along were over before we even stepped foot on the battle field itself.
The truth is that “the most courageous thing you might ever do is to accept yourself and be that man, and no other”. (Rohr)
Here is Richard Rohr’s devotional from On the Threshold of Transformation that sparked this blog:
The commonly held myth of the self made-man is a trap. The idea that we can manufacture our own identity or worthiness is a project surely to fail. Thinking that we can and must create our own significance turns every other man into a rival and leaves us fighting over the scraps.
The soul lives on meaning the way the body lives on food. Without a larger meaning, our lives are “disasters”, which literally means “disconnected from the stars”! It is absolutely essential that we find this larger meaning. Jesus has already declared you inherently important: “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven,” he says. you cannot declare yourself important any attempt to do so is delusional, even though many try. The problem we try so hard to solve is already completely solved, and most of us don’t even know it. We are searching for what we already have.
One thought on “On the other, other hand.”
Humility is a word that is so hard to describe. Maybe it’s ok to bounce back and forth between two thoughts, accepting both our tendency to gravitate instead of stay in equilibrium, and the fact that Jesus has freed us from the curse of measuring ourselves. I enjoyed your excerpt from Rohr’s devotion since it points out my contention with post-modern existential thinking “we are who we want to be.” I think we are who God made us to be, and therefore, we are who we are. We may get discouraged because we feel disempowered by the thought that we can’t help be what someone else made us to be. (Empowerment has been a major theme in the attitude of the last century.) But that is when we remember that we are nothing but precious to our creator, and exactly where He needs us to be right now. Accepting who we are does not mean we give up on being “better.” It is an acceptance, as you said, both of insignificance and significance. When we take whatever end we’ve attached to doing good things away, we can simply see doing good as an end in itself, regardless of it’s consequential significance, which paradoxically makes it significant.