As mentioned last week, we are starting a new series called “Finding Joy In Our Journey.” This is the first installment of five that will explain some thoughts on why each of them are significant and a potential source for encouragement.
Designed for Dependency, Independence, and Interdependence
From the get-go, each of us is designed to be dependent on one another. We are born helpless but also aware that our parents will provide, protect and educate us. Our little baby hearts yearn for knowing and being known, to love and be loved. We depend on this dynamic with our parents through our formative years. Eventually, we come to a place of self-awareness that then individuates from our parents and moves us on toward becoming healthy independent adults.
At the same time, we also realize we are interdependent creatures. We do not lead happy, healthy lives, outside of relationships: love, work, friendship, and community. Nevertheless, think of this, no one who has existed on this planet has ever had your fingerprints yet everyone has fingerprints. On one hand, yes, we are our own unique individual selves. On the other hand, we are not fully ourselves out of the context of being in a relationship with others.
Which leads to the famous existential question: Who am I and why am I here?
Everyone asks that question in some way shape or form but I believe it can be answered generally in that we are here to know and be known; to love and be loved. Everything from our sense of self, personal relationships, career, hobbies and legacy orbit one or both of these core desires; to know and be known, to love and be loved.
Where oh Where is Paradise?
How many times does all of what I have written above unfold perfectly? Never. The answer is never. We humans tend to be hazardous toward ourselves and one another. Sometimes we do not have the answers we need right when we need them. We may get incorrect or incomplete answers that don’t fit our lives and experience. We may think we know something, live it for a very long time only to discover we were not only wrong, but very wrong. Even when we have reached a new level of understanding and growth… we still yearn for more truth, more knowledge, more wisdom about who we are and why we are here.
It’s in that oftentimes difficult process where we learn our character defects, motivation, strengths, gifts and purpose. We learn the value of selflessness and the sometimes harsh consequences of selfishness.
Paradise may be elusive but have you noticed that all of humanity yearns for some sort of spiritual, political, or communal Utopia? While grand visions are great, in my opinion, the best hint of paradise comes from within as a result of honest living, healthy relationships, and humbly moving forward.
The Know-It-Alls vs. Humility & Selflessness
Then there are those who honestly believe they have all the answers for themselves… and you! As LGBT+ people we understand all too well what it is like to have others, sometimes complete strangers, act as if they know us better than we know ourselves. However, there are quite a few among our own ranks that do the same. I could list examples of how each symbol/character in the LGBT+ acronym have tried to define each other’s existence in some way shape or form. We do so by judging each other through our own lens of identity, religion, politics, self-presentation, community involvement, and on and on.
The truth is, we are all susceptible to the know-it-all syndrome. It’s sneaks up on us because, of course, we believe we are correct. That’s why it is always important to listen with fresh ears, open heart, and seek to understand with clarity. This can be achieved by staying grounded in the reality of us without getting lost in what we think reality should be or look like for ourselves. As we continue in our quest for truth and meaning, it’s best we don’t take anyone or ourselves for granted. We must have the humility to be willing to develop and change (even when we don’t want to). If we hold to these principles, the lifelong quest for truth and meaning can be a major source of encouragement, vitality, and excitement.
Spiritual… or not?
For those of us who are persons of faith, meditation and prayer are essential avenues to gain perspective and wisdom. Do not get reluctant to pursue your spiritual practices. Regardless of what we may have been taught, I believe our spiritual selves exist in a safe place so they can flourish. I honestly can’t imagine life without communion with the Creator, prayer, and my faith family. That said, I don’t impose my beliefs on anyone else or assume they are any less enlightened than I am if they believe differently (like I used to, and as many other Christians do.) In fact, I know *many* non-believers who have deeply impacted me in life-altering, life-giving, ways for the better.
It’s a humbling experience to discover the person you used to condescendingly judge actually hold the keys to unlocking your closet door… and walks with you into real freedom. Yes, I am speaking from experience.
We are not acting in humility and selflessness when we exclude others because of our beliefs or non-belief. Others don’t have to have the same beliefs as we do in order to help us become better and more honest versions of ourselves.
That said, regardless of what we believe or don’t believe, we all yearn and look toward something greater than ourselves. We are all seeking the greater good for both personal health and community. In whatever way we come to peace with knowing and being known, loving and being loved. We thrive. We can thrive together.
Wide-eyed & Curious Wonder
Just as babies begin life full of wide-eyed and curious wonder, it’s my hope that when I pass from the earth I will still have that wide-eyed and curious wonder. That I will have a life filled life giving opportunities and relationships; and where I failed… miserably… that the quest for truth and meaning was never short-circuited.
That everyone I happened to be in a relationship with would know that I know them and am glad they know me; that I love them and life is richer being loved by them.
You are known and loved,
Note: Next week we will tackle another one of the five key aspects of life, identity! Click here to see other posts in the series.