Being With Ourselves
Our first relationship is with ourselves.
Human beings are created in the image of God (in other words, we were made to reflect his light). We believe God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – three in one – so we have a God who is in relationship and has been since before the beginning of time. If you want to live into who you were designed to be (a fulfilling, life-giving, energy-bringing, happy-making prospect) you need to be in relationships. The greatest commandments* then are not a burden or slog but actually the path to life as it was meant to be lived.
*”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” – Jesus in Luke 10:27
The first relationship we have, or first-person, is I. Before we can get to loving our neighbour, we have to face the fact that behind our fear of being with people different than us – especially teenagers – is that we do not know how to first be with ourselves. Being still, sitting in quiet self-reflection, and knowing what’s going on inside ourselves is hard work.
Perhaps you have been on a silent retreat, taken time to journal, or gone to therapy, and experienced one of the few places or methods designed for us to stop the hurried pace of our lives and process. You’ll notice these things require planning and intention. Busyness is the enemy of our souls. Downtime is not a sin, or a reward to earn. Sabbath rest is a command – a rule for life – that still applies to our Christian faith today.
Anthropologist Angeles Arrien relates that in many indigenous cultures a dispirited or disconnected person is diagnosed by asking for questions:
Where in your life did you stop singing?
Where in your life did you stop dancing?
Where in your life did you stop telling stories?
Where in your life did you stop listening to silence?
Listening to music, creating art, learning to dance, singing, telling stories (that don’t involve gossip about neighbours or complaining about work), and listening to silence are core to our well-being as adults. These are spirited activities that remind us we are more than our roles and our jobs. They are also core to the spiritual lives of teenagers. Young people are all about this stuff.
If we truly want to connect to people who are different than us, and convey to our teenagers that church and relationships with Christian women and men matter, then we must reconnect to our own spiritual – spirited – roots. We must be comfortable with ourselves, and love, honour, and cherish our own image-of-God within, before we can love freely and be present with others.
Ask God to show you one small step you can take today that reduces your busyness and makes time for your relationship with self and God.