"why would I want to live for man
and pay the highest price
what does it mean to gain the whole world
only to lose my life...
So I do what I do
to make a good impression
This journey is my own
And so much of what I say
is to make myself look better
This journey is my own..."
- Sara Groves
With Sara Groves on my ipod, "This Journey is My Own," became my companion song as I drove through the breath-takingly beautiful Arkansas Valley yesterday. With Antero, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Yale...mountain sentinels...starboard, and the river port side, I was aware that these geographical markers were keeping me on course in the same way that the equipoise of honesty and compassion, integrity and affection, serve as navigational buoys as I move through the choppy, or calm, waters of my day.
I've experienced many kinds of spiritually transformative moments in the last few decades, but I think the one that I am most grateful for tonight is an ongoing dissolution of the "me" that actually thinks that she needs the approval of others, more than she needs to be right with herself...especially the approval of those I love, and hope love me.
In the past, I've paid a very high price in trying to gain the appreciation, acceptance, and acknowledgment of others, only to realize that by doing so I had lost "my life" in direct proportion to my desire for gaining the whole world...and its approval. And to tell you the truth, it is never worth it. It leaves my heart feeling cold, and achingly empty. If I can't be "me" and be loved...if I must be something I am not, to be accepted...what have I really gained? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nada, Zip. Zero. If people love a version of me that is not genuine, then the genuine me is not loved at all. And this, my friends, is a painfully sad way to live.
We each face hard choices...moment-by-moment...as we navigate our individual journeys towards spiritual self-awareness and our place in the human family. I find that I am often asking myself critical questions like: Do I say the thing that will make other people happy, things that will make them like me, and will assure them that I am "with the program," or do I speak, act, live out from "mine integrity," -- a clear conviction about God's voice, and direction, in my life? Do I let myself be guided by a God-centered inner compass, or am I swayed by human opinions about my decisions and my choices?
This journey is my own. I alone am accountable to God for how I traverse the steep hillside...and the narrow way. And it is all about the "how" these days. Am I speaking with an authentic voice? Am I obediently following the leadings of Truth as my conscience and Love point out the way? Am I honest? Is my heart impartially and universally filled with affection and patience? Do I live my convictions with humility and non-judgment?
These are the questions that keep me up at night...and, to be honest, fill my days with purpose. I find that when I am so engaged in my own journey, I have little time to, as Phillips Brooks once said, "direct the wanderings of [my] brothers' lives." Then, salvation...my salvation...is what holds primacy in my sense of purpose, and I can hear God's "thou art mine," with sweet clarity and peace.
The full text of Brooks' quote follows:
"God has not given us vast learning to solve all the problems, or unfailing wisdom to direct all the wanderings of our brothers’ lives; but He has given to every one of us the power to be spiritual, and by our spirituality to lift and enlarge and enlighten the lives we touch."
Mary Baker Eddy, noted in her own hand, following the appearance of this statement on a document found in her papers, "The secret to my life is in the above."
Yes, this journey is my own and I am trying, each day, to walk it in a way that I don't end up losing my life, in order to gain the whole world. Gaining the whole world...it's just not all it's cracked up to be. So, I think I will, as Sara sings, live, and breathe, for an audience of one..." The only One.
may your days be filled with moments of supreme peace...
Kate Robertson, CS