Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Being One's self

When did I stop feeling able to be truly myself?

The thought occurred to me driving home today, mostly in opposition to what is usually the case during most of my day.

Throughout growing up, high school, undergraduate and graduate work, and into adult life, I always had several individuals with whom I felt I could be myself without retribution or concern - individuals to whom I could say, and from whom I could hear, virtually anything - and not be concerned about appearing any less in their eyes.

The breakdown occurs, I think, when we are put in the position that something we have told someone essentially in confidence, or something deeply personal, is used against us. Myself, I tend to tighten up a little bit. Then, as we acquire relationships and positions, it becomes even less comfortable, as to open up, or "be ourselves", as the consequences become too deeply concerning or potentially upsetting. To truly be open, or speak one's mind and then get rejected or ignored simply becomes too painful to risk.

It further occurs to me (at least personally) that this can be one of the most deadly things to infest any church body, the feeling that one has to "be" something, or at least appear to be something (the origin of the Pharisees, perhaps?). If any one of us were truly honest about our week or our life in our churches (oddly enough, the one place where we should feel free to be ourselves is tightly wedged into a one or two hour period a week, ignoring the other 164 hours), would we want to come back the following week? Would we feel comfortable coming back?

I write this, I suppose, due to the fact that one received that shock (a welcome one, in this case), that an acquaintance has slipped into a friendship (Bogha-frois, ta shiu air an Lion gu bráth). The change in this from many of the ordinary interactions is as shocking to the system as an ice water batch, acting as a foil to what we usually do every day of every week.

If people are like this, can I dare to believe and experience the exponential manifold reality of God receiving sinners like this? Do I truly believe it? Do I let it impact my life?

When did I stop feeling able to be truly myself?

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