"Our deepest calling is to grow into our own authentic self-hood, whether or not it conforms to some image of who we ought to be. As we do so, we will not only find the joy that every human being seeks -- we will also find our path of authentic service in the world."~Parker Palmer
Did you read that? I mean, really read it? There are so many words in there....words that contain whole universes of meaning. You can read just 3-5 words of that quote at a time, and it should shake you to your core.
I'm still not sure what "authentic self-hood" really is. Maybe it's becoming the best version of myself. Maybe it's knowing who I am despite living in a world of chameleons.
Maybe, it's just knowing that I am myself. I'm not you. I'm not that girl in that magazine. I'm not even who I see in the mirror. My desperate insides, clamoring around in the space beneath my skin, shout to be KNOWN. Not simply acknowledged, but deeply and truly known. Can I look inside myself and know that what I feel there is me? How can I be sure that I'm outside the influence of everything around me?
And what is the 'joy that every human being seeks'? Is that to be loved? Is it to feel belonging? Is it to feel truly rested, or fulfilled, or substantiated by someone/something? After staring at the computer screen, looking at this quote for some 30 minutes, I think the 'joy' here is knowing our 'authentic self-hood.' (The quote answers its own question....I will save you a seat at therapy.) Does knowing yourself give you the ultimate joy? Does having a true and complete picture of your self-hood make you whole?
This last part is killing me. I'm half-laughing about it and half-ruminating. 'We will also find our path of authentic service in the world.' This whole quote, about finding ourselves and finding joy, leads up to using those revelations to SERVE OTHERS AND THE WORLD. Were you longing for an absurd line of thinking today? You were? Terrific. Thanks for hanging on this long - you'll probably need a nap after this.
Finding out our 'authentic self-hood' and finding the 'joy that every human being seeks' simply equips us to 'authentic service.' To my family? Nope. To my neighborhood? My school? My church? Nope.
THE WORLD. As in, our entire planet.
After you've picked your brain up and placed it somewhat firmly back inside your skull, listen to this. Knowing ourselves and finding true joy are excellent, worthy endeavors. It will make you feel complete and whole and wonderful and refreshed. But it's not just for you. It's for everyone. Once I wrapped my head around it, I saw it this way: I wouldn't give a used, half-broken toy to someone's child. The child wouldn't have much toy to play with. It would be fun initially, but the child would soon realize that the toy wasn't functioning at its full potential. If he/she were a particularly destructive child, they might notice the weakest spots on the toy and use those weak spots to break the toy. In all, it would probably be a negative experience overall.
If we don't know who we are, if we haven't grasped our full potential and unlocked the joy made available in this revelation, how can we possibly think we are capable of serving others in the world? Why offer a broken, locked-up, joyless version of yourself to the world? Knowing yourself, your capabilities, your faults, your faith - these make you whole. Being whole gives you joy. Give that joy to the world.
P.S. Yesterday, I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth. June was at the kitchen table. She said, "Mom, where are you?" I said, "In the bathroom." *Looooong pause* June finally says, "Are you shaving your face?"
[I shared that with you because I promised this post would be funny. It really wasn't. So there's that.]