“There is only one problem on which all existence, my peace, and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him.” Thomas Merton
Before we pick up where I left off yesterday, I need to address this “find my true self” business. Let me be clear. There is no mysterious true self that you have misplaced and you need to go seek and find. We aren’t Sybil’s second cousins. We don’t have multiple personalities! What we are is a messy mix. (Read Romans 7 if you want to see an example of Paul’s messy mix of issues.) The true self doesn’t run off with Iggy Azalea only to return home after the false self insists upon its return.
Too often we go in search of something we already possess. When Merton talks about discovering God, and finding our true self, think of it like this: finding our way back home. It’s akin to waking up after being in a coma. The person who was in a coma didn’t leave the building. They were asleep. Upon waking, old skills might need to be relearned and new skills acquired.
Back to yesterday’s devotional. If you read it you’ll recall that I talked about the many times people have been confused by my job title: Pastor. For many faith traditions a female pastor is unheard of, so it is understandable that I confuse them.
And for years I too was confused. I grew up in a tradition where female pastors were not a dime a dozen. We were allowed to be Ministers to Children and serve in other equally challenging and worthy capacities, but a pastor who preaches? Not a girl thing.
But my true self was created to be a pastor and here’s how I know. There were hints that pastoring might be in my blood by observing the things I love to think and do: I love to study scripture, I love to bear with the stories of suffering and celebration of others, I have pretty passionate opinions about what it takes to create space for people to throw themselves into the path of transformation. But these interests alone never convinced me that I was a pastor. I learned I was a pastor when my community proved to me that they believed I was THEIR pastor. It has happened in a bunch of small and large ways, this coming to know my place in community. Mostly, they allowed me the privilege of being THEIR pastor. We struggle to wake up and recognize God in this place and self in this place too. This place we are in today matters; it’s the only place our presence is ever guaranteed. You are definitely in a place where God is, and this awareness can change everything. But it is also important that we work on self-awareness and community feedback to help us wake up to who we are and where we fit in God’s story.
When Jacob woke from his sleep, he thought to himself, the Lord is definitely in this place, but I didn’t know it. Genesis 28:16 CEB