Some time ago I sat quietly and listened to a heart broken client express, “I don’t know who I am anymore, and I have no idea where I am going.” Tearfully she explained how her life had been slowly going through a change. One day she woke up and nothing felt right for her any more. She was devastated, stuck, and had no idea what had happened to the life she once knew and was quite happy with at one time.
As we continued to talk, she described for me how her life used to be, how she used to feel, and what it was that made it so much better back then. As we moved forward to the present it was obvious she had been slowly conditioned to her environment by the people she now knew, and the changes that had occured in her life. Nothing happened suddenly, it was a slow boil. Ever hear the frog story about putting a frog in boiling water? If you put it in hot water it will quickly jump out, but if you put it in water it likes and raise the temperature slowly it will get used to it, not realizing its life was being taken.
Life can be like that sometimes if we are not aware. It’s easy to be slowly conditioned into a life we don’t recognize, either by environment and often our choices. Like my former client, we can wake up one day and no longer recognize ourselves because of the changes we made. Sometimes they are deliberate changes and sometimes they are subtle ones that we are just conditioned into because of outside influences. It’s easy to get stuck there and even conditioned to stay there unhappily.
We are born into this life a blank slate and innocent from our God and Creator. There is nothing quite like a breath of heaven entering this world for the first time. We all were there in the beginning. What we have now is a collection of stuff we have picked up along the way. Our world and society has a way of conditioning us into thinking and acting in certain ways that create a fluent “fitting in”. The problem is we are taught to believe what the “norm” is and if we deviate from it we are the ones who are considered lost. We don’t realize how much we are told who we should be, how we should act, and what type of life we should lead.
We are trapped in an ideal that says we are supposed to learn, grow up, have families, and make money. Before we know it our focus is more about those things than simply being our true selves. For instance; there is so much more about learning than reading and writing. We forget to learn how to be the amazing beings we have been created to be. Schools don’t teach us to learn about our creative selves, or how powerfully we are made and how powerful we are. Our families become a “family unit” where we somehow tend to lose our identity in the process. Even in marriage we forget we are individuals first and then a couple second. We are joined “as one” but within that oneness we allow our true selves to be lost. We get a job, create a business, or find a means of support. Suddenly, that means of support becomes the major part of our lives to the point that we identify ourselves according to what we do instead of who we are.
We can watch this happen at a social gathering. One of the primary questions we consider while getting to know someone is “What do you do for a living?” Suddenly, we are a doctor, an attorney, a business owner, and so on. The issue with this is we are none of these things first. We are first and foremost that breath of heaven born into this world as an individual. Born from love, our mission is love. We are never taught we are healers, believers, understanders, and creative builders. The truth? God never sent us into this world to make money, have families, and then go home. We are meant to live from the spirit and not society’s ideas of who we should be or become.
We are told by religion to believe a certain way or by psychology what is normal and what is not. We are conditioned to understand that life is “hard” instead of living at ease and in discovery. Our creative gifts are smothered by feelings that we have to adjust to “fit in” and conform. It’s a slow boil. Before we know it we forget who we truly are and why we are here. The next thing we know we are older and have no idea how we got where we are or where we are going. We lose our authentic selves.
Our challenge? Our spiritual selves are beckoning us to return to our authentic lives. For example, the woman I spoke of in the beginning had no idea what a gifted artist she is because she never had taken the time to find out the deeper and more creative things she harbors within herself. We all have those things. We might know what they are and feel we will get to them some day. Although, in the slow boil we have been living in, that some day might never come. We have to make it come once we know how unsettled we have truly been.
Returning to our authentic self means seeking within, not outside of ourselves. We can’t find ourselves in other people or in earthly situations. We find ourselves by allowing God in us to reveal who we really are. We are meant for so much more than to be born, live, and then die. There is so much in between. We are meant to dance, for our hearts to sing, our lives to give healing, and our love to bring peace. We are meant to create beauty in this life, not turmoil. Our tears are for compassion and not pain. Our anger should be toward injustice, not held against one another. The only way we become one as a couple or a society is extending compassion, grace, and creating an environment where we thrive as our true selves. We are not meant to be clones of one another but the breath of fresh air for each one we encounter. We are born to bring our gift to a hungry world and share it with others and then receive them as a gift in return.
Our world is looked upon as chaotic. I feel that way myself quite often. Remember that God created this world from chaos and we can return to ourselves through the chaos we have felt in our lives. If you are feeling unsettled, unfulfilled, and upset, that is great! Your life is calling you toward finding your true self again. Your heart wants to heal, to be lifted to a place where compassion, love, and giftedness become the norm and not what society has told you. You are you and there is no one else like you. How special is that?
Take a deep breath, allow your tears, and let them be the water that grows a garden of truth, new understanding, and authenticity. Find that breath of heaven you were born to be! Then give who you are to a world that has no idea how to find itself any more. Return to yourself. Return to love. When you do, love yourself deeply. It is an honor to have you here. Don’t allow disrespect. You are a treasure. No one will recognize that unless you accept nothing less.
Loving you from here,
Dr Rev Jenine Marie Howry, PhD or simply “Jenine”