I have been trying to take time out each day to grow.
Not really spiritually or mentally but grow...just as a whole. I feel like I lost myself somewhere in the past.
Perhaps it was when I was a child and got lost trying to be older.
Maybe it was in my teenage years when I got lost in the drugs or
when I got clean and lost myself in the alcohol instead.
Maybe it was when I met my wife Chia, got sober and lost myself in love.
It could have been when I started going to church and lost myself in ministry and religion.
The point is I would always let something I was focused on determine my identity without thinking who I really was. It wasn't until my kids started getting older and developing their own personalities that I really started reflecting on this issue, and this was an issue.
If I don't know who I am, how can I raise my children to be independent thinkers who are true to themselves?
So I started searching. At first I didn't pick up any books or start listening to podcasts that would help me be more true to myself. The first thing I did was look in the mirror. I took a long look in the mirror and asked myself a question I never really had before...
Do I even like, let alone love who I am? Do I like me?
I was surprised at how quickly I knew the answer to the question. Not only did I not love me, I didn't like me. Not only did I not like me but I couldn't like me because the man I was looking at was a stranger. I took so much time letting other things mold me that I did recognize who I was. I knew a change had to be made so I started with what I could see, my face.
I was clean shaven with short well kept hair. Did I want to be clean shaven? NO! I was only looking the part of a "clean cut minister" because the church I was a current preacher at wanted me to follow certain standards. But If I was going to really learn who I was I had to be true to how I felt. So I took a huge leap in what I feel like was the correct direction for me...I left the ministry. I didn't leave my "faith" at that moment but I knew I had to step down as a minister. I stepped down and lost the razor. I let the hair grow and hung up the suit and tie. I pulled on a Grateful Dead t-shirt and never looked back. I didn't regret what I was doing because it felt right. With every step I took away from who I was I felt I was one step closer to who I WAS.
I can now shake hands with the man I am.
I know the man I see in the mirror now. I am not saying that everyone reading this needs to leave their church because that would be you trying to find your identity getting lost in mine. For some people maybe joining a church helps them find themselves, some people need to be in the ministry but it was not who I was...who I am. It took me a lot of courage to accept that.
I know I am not finished with who I am but that is exciting to me. I am finally on the road to enlightenment. I started on the outside with the man I could see and now I am working on the man on the inside, the man I can hear now.
The one who was silent for so many years.
The one who kept getting lost in other people's lifestyles.
The one who kept getting lost in things that occupied his time.
The man who never had a voice. That's the man I am shaking hands with.
It's a journey and the only way to get to the end of this road is to rebuild the car, fuel it up and take the ride.
To close this out I would like to borrow from Eckhart Tolle's Book "A New Earth"
"Seeing beauty in a flower could awaken humans, however briefly, to the beauty that is an essential part of their own innermost being, their true nature."