I suppose in an odd way it is almost as if I care about people just because they come crashing into my world. It is a phenomenon that astonishes me. That merely existing and doing your own thing as opposed to intentionally setting out to do good for goodness sake, a greater good is produced, and it is real, it is not a faux-goodness that is more about boosting one’s spiritual brownie points in the religious community. It is a true goodness.
On the other hand, there are other’s who it seems as though nearly everything always comes down to being about them and a lot of it is how “Spiritual” they are. Even quoting scripture almost always comes in the form of “look at me, I’m so spiritual!” It is a common problem. It is frustrating, because it is damaging, it is extremely damaging, both to the person themselves, and to those around them. It is a poisonous thing, the false-spirituality of some. I do not pretend that I myself am free of this hypocrisy. By no means, I look down unjustly on others at times, I lack love for some, I see others as being ‘less spiritual’ then I at times, especially if it is a situation where I look better for it. I myself am among the ranks of this hypocrisy. I am not proud of it, but it is there, in me. I cannot deny that.
When you encounter those who are genuine it is like taking a deep breath after having not breathed in a very long time. In one sense you could say that these are fairly genuine creatures who do not fear their own shadow. And that right there can make all the difference. Half the problem is people are afraid to even acknowledge the shadow within, not to mention, face it. The inner Voldemort, the old zombie self, whatever you might call the darker side of you. Some are brave enough to acknowledge it, few are courageous enough to face it. For those who I see who seem genuine, I do not know if they courageous enough to face it, but I think brave enough to try.
It is also fascinating that people can be so extraordinarily, ordinary. She is what she is, no less, no more, she is who she is, and she is that alone. He is what he is, he is no more, and no less then what he is. It is both beautiful and refreshing to see a human being who is not ashamed of what it is that they are, a human being, who is who they are. This is a state where the person has come to terms with the truth of who and what they are, and has accepted it, they are content. I cannot deny that people who are true, are truly beautiful people.
Sometimes it is more obvious then seems rational to explain, for example, one might find that just through their YouTube videos, or even other social media that there is a refreshing spirit to them. As though all their soul is revealed, and is found to be a precious jewel and not a thorn. Or it might be that you can hear it in their voice when you talk with them, or it is seen on their face. Unspoken in words perhaps, but you know it is there, this unearthly inner beauty, a beauty that shines the brightest, curiously enough, when a person is just being what they truly are, no more, no less. Neither pride, nor false humility is clouding the inner light, these are the truly humble people, and they are gorgeous for it. It astonishes me because, in being themselves they are a blessing to the world, but all they are doing is being who they are. Perhaps the most holy people are those who do what they are to do, make movies, compose music, write books, design fashion, speak languages, tell stories, take photos, etc. rather then those who seethe with the spirit of “look at me and how spiritual/godly/pure/etc. that I am.” that I’ve grown both weary and wary of, and fear myself to possess this. I desire no hypocrisy in myself and I find it repulsive in others. It surely is equally repulsive in me as I find it to be in others.
I believe that I surely must possess some measure of it, every person I know sees a different version of me, I am dreadfully secretive and rarely reveal my true self to anyone but hold secrets, always. Always. I nearly always am wearing a mask, and rarely am just being myself. I always have my secrets. Never am I content to just be known to be what it is that I am, but always must seek to hide behind walls I build to present an imaginary me, that doesn’t exist.
Now, I acknowledge that it is perhaps impossible to be completely transparent. However, it gets to the point of absurdity at times with me. For example, when asked how I am doing, I almost never give a straight answer, or if I do, it is an answer that is vague and the more meanings it can have, the more likely I am to use it.
An example of this sort of absurdity in me is seen with the fact that I mention to no one that I am attempting to learn several languages. I mean, I only spend most of my time trying to do it, when I’m not attending to responsibilities and so forth. When I watch things, it is nearly always something in the languages I’m currently trying to learn. A lot of my music is foreign and there is also the active study of the languages.
How do I brake free of this hellish shell that demands my silence? I am weary of it. How do I learn how to open myself up to others? I think I am mostly afraid, not so much of speaking, no, it is the fear of intimacy more then anything, I think. I am absolutely terrified of making myself known as I am. I fear any form of intimacy with others, and have an irrational fear that there is no point in opening myself up, letting myself be known, no point in relationships, because if I try to get close to someone, the irrational fear is, well, they are surely going to leave, or will walk away, or what have you. It is again, a fear built largely on the doubt of the goodness of God. It is fueled by those who say things like ‘If there is anything in your mind, your emotions, your heart, etc. that is bigger then God, if you spend more time thinking about, focusing on, etc. then it’s an idol!’ Now, I’m denying the existence of idolatry But I also don’t believe in accidental idolatry either. It is impossible to have an idol unconsciously, it can only ever be a deliberate, willful, choice. Furthermore, we can only think about any one thing at a time, be it God, the dog, the fog, or the pizza we’re making for dinner that evening. Just because you are putting a lot of thought into making sure the dog is fed, the pizza is made, and to ensure you can drive through the fog and make it home in one piece, doesn’t mean any of those has become an idol to you.
This can be devastating in human relationships. I mean seriously, if not for relationships with other humans, is there really a lot of point to us still being on this Earth? Our mission, if we choose to accept it, is to form relationships with those around us. It’s what we are here to do. Yes, our relationship with God is important. But those who say that we ought to ignore the human beings around us, are doing it wrong. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have any reason to be here. Also, if you are always worried about setting up people as idols, unconsciously, you are not going to invest yourself in them, you’ll always be holding back to make sure that you’re keeping God first.
It is in giving ourselves away to those around us, in investing in others, rather then ourselves, it is becoming interested in others, it is being an others centered entity, rather then a self-focused entity that you begin to resemble the character of God.
The one who is others centered will not have to deal with idols being formed, they will be too busy living out their faith for something that can only be fed by self-centeredness to live in a person’s heart. An idol will starve to death before it can set up camp in a others-centered person’s heart.
There are other horrors as well that result from the idea that we can mistakenly set up idols in our hearts, for example, the inability to be receptive of gifts, the denial of the goodness of God, the focus being upon you, your own performance, and so forth.
We are here, and it is good that we are here, and we are here, to be a gift to those around us.
Which is why I desire to be true, and not hide behind mask, to not be hypocritical, to not deny my humanity, to not delight in the goodness of God, to not accept my role as a gift to those around me, and so forth. To accept that it isn’t about me as much as we might think. Yes, we do have a personal relationship with God, that is true, but that doesn’t mean that is the ultimate goal of our life, of our walk with God, and so forth. We are not so much involved in a play tailored strictly for our benefit, but we are there to benefit those who are present. We will benefit as well, of course, but the main purpose is for us to be the benefit to the other people around us, not to be the central focus, but a participent in the story as a whole. It doesn’t do to be so focused on ourselves that we forget to be of any use to our fellow man, many of whom are in desperate need in some way.
So I have to ask myself, what are some practical ways I can open myself up in small ways? This blog has been a great start, and I am finding it to be surprisingly healing, and helpful to me, but what are some other ways I can be the gift I am meant to be.
Also, I have to ask questions like: I wonder if it is better for me to be more interested in the people themselves then in observing them. For example I was to observe some folks, but they themselves remain fundamentally, strangers. There would be a vast difference between the observation of someone and the knowing of someone, would there not? I could spend the rest of my life, and theirs perhaps, observing them, but never knowing them. I could observe what it is they do, but never know what it is to be them. An observer can never climb inside their world, but can watch only. Knowing them requires being a participant in their world. In such a case, I could not claim to know them, but I can only ever be an observer. I may make accurate guesses of what their world is like, but without being a part of it, it is not a real world to me but an illusion, a cold set of facts and nothing more.
These people are living things, not cold facts. They are more real then cold facts allow for. But apart from knowing them I can never know them, and I am doomed to watch only.