2014-03-08 The Man I Am Not - Part 1
When I started this piece a little over a year ago, I was in a much different place than I am now. Regardless of where I was then I found that a lot of what I wrote is still valuable to me in terms of my progression in this journey to become someone who can love more completely and honestly than I ever thought possible. My life is about to change again in a wonderfully drastic way. A year makes a big difference. I decided to call this Part 1 because as I incorporate “new pieces” into a “new One” I will have much more to say. So stay tuned….
Life is a process of self-discovery.
Some of these discoveries are welcome, and some not so much. There are times, in fact, that I wish I could just not discover anything new about myself because it’s just so tiresome sometimes. Mostly I’m discovering things I don’t like and want to fix, but frankly I’m just too lazy to make the effort. I just don’t feel like it. Most of the people I know think pretty highly of me, but I know that I don’t deserve their high regard. I know my sins, and they leave me severely lacking. I’m tired of my internal desire to live up to everyone else’s image of me. This is all my own doing of course. I realize that no one else really thinks about what I do very much at all. We each have our own lives and certain close family members think of us more often, but for the most part we think of those the most who are within easy mental/emotional reach. The ones who have a more consistent emotional and spiritual presence for us.
These are the ones we miss. This is human nature, and that nature limits our capacity and ability to express our feelings and desires to others. Because the reality is that no matter how many connections I have on social media I am truly only capable of being effectively present in a limited number of lives.
I discovered how much I take for granted, and how much I assume to be true. I am being painfully truthful when I say that I most often feel the greatest impact of someone’s life on mine more by their absence than their presence. I am so well and thoroughly loved and supported by those in my life that I have become comfortable in that place. I would know if someone were no longer there because it would change my life. I too often think of others in terms of how they affect me rather than the effect I have on them. That is how I define taking someone for granted, and I have a difficult time thinking of a worse feeling regarding myself.
But I’m also aware of just how undeserving I am of all the respect and affection I have among my family and friends, and that is how I define Grace: Love completely undeserved. I have a difficult time thinking of a better feeling regarding myself.
I discovered that I selectively cease to question. There are some things I simply don’t want to know. To acknowledge the truth about something regarding myself requires me to act on it. If I don’t it niggles at the back end of my existence until I simply can’t tolerate it anymore.
I discovered that I, a man who knows the value and need for commitment, am actually afraid of commitment. Oh, how I hate to admit this to myself. The fact is that I fear it because I don’t think I will find someone who can match that commitment, and that is an extremely self-centered thought. Who am I to judge the quality of another person’s heart? This requires a “fore-ordained” commitment to the unknown, because you can’t get that kind of commitment until you’re willing to give it first and that takes time. And now I’ve discovered that I actually have all the time I need. There is no need for hurry in this. It may actually never happen, and I think I’m surprisingly ok with that.
I am a fool who is well and greatly, and wholly undeservedly, loved.
One of my favorite quotes of all time is this:
"In your weakest moment you are powerfully loved. That love overpowers all that you are not. It overwhelms all your inadequacy. It empowers you to stand up on the inside. Love makes us invincible, unbeatable. Our heart becomes a fortress. Only God can do that...turn a weak place into something impregnable." - Graham Cooke
So maybe what I really need to develop is a system of walls with an “open door” policy. I will welcome you in to see my heart. If you like it stay, if not go. If you hurt me one or more of those doors will close behind you on the way out. You will do the same for me, and if I make the choice to walk through your doors I will be as careful as possible with what you offer.
It’s true, I think, that most of the time in our personal relationships all we really want is to be in a place with someone where the thought is simply, “Don’t hurt me.”, but we fear to lose what relationship we may have so we don’t say, “Accept me.”, and then we lose the natural progression to a level of relationship where we find ourselves capable of saying, “Love me.” We are afraid to acknowledge that our love is largely conditional, yet we long for the unconditional so much more. We fear being ourselves in front of someone else.
Love requires risk, but it first requires knowing what I risk. It requires that I understand what my needs really are as opposed to what I think they are. It’s easy to keep my conception of my needs rooted in the physical, which are more easily satisfied in the short term, rather than the emotional and spiritual which are more difficult. It takes time to understand the roots of my discontent, and therefore my satisfaction. It takes time to figure out what I’m really seeking.
It requires that I dismantle myself.
I have to reduce myself to my most basic components and then rebuild according to what I want to keep rather than what I had before. I can’t keep doing the same things just because “that’s the way it’s always been done”. And it clearly needs to be based on what I want to keep not on what someone else feels I should keep. If it isn’t my choice I’ll become bitter, and there will be no joy.
What it comes down to is that I have choices. I get to pick what stays and what goes, and I need to be honest with myself enough to make sure those choices lead up and out of the pits I dig for myself. It's pretty easy to get comfortable wallowing in the mud.
©Dan Bode 2015