"If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load." Galatians 6:3-5
In yesterday's post I talked about taking time to figure out who you really are. I said that I think it is important to know. This is why.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and pulled in too many directions - family, work, church, friends, etc. I know that I cannot do it all and I struggle with how to juggle everything. I wonder about how to get the balance right, how to prioritize, how to get it all done, how to avoid letting anyone down. I make sacrifices that I wish I didn't have to make. All too often I recognize that the balance is wrong and I try to figure out a way to get it back - to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
When I am in one of those situations, I find it helpful to think about who I am. To try to use that to guide me and to help me figure out the right priorities. I also find it helpful to look back on my recent actions and behaviors from time to time and to see whether they reflect who I am, or whether they are me being caught up in something else, or trying to be someone or something that I am not (as Galatians says - to test my own actions without comparing them to somebody else).
Also, when I look at myself and ask who I am, there are parts of the answer that I do not like. I can see the shortcomings and things that I would like to change. Going through the process makes it easier for me to take those to God and to ask His help in working on them. As I said yesterday, I think God works on us throughout our lives and that we can be different people tomorrow than we were yesterday.
Some people that know me well are probably reading this and thinking about my actions and trying to do some reverse engineering. Trying to figure out what they say about who I am, or who I think I am, or who I want to be. All I can say is something that I have said before and, unfortunately, will say again, I fail in many ways every single day. Thinking about who I am doesn't mean that I always make the right decision, it doesn't prevent me from failing. I do think that it helps me to make fewer mistakes than I otherwise would, but often it just means that it is easier for me to recognize where I have fallen short. I am hopeful that I learn from those times and that I do better the next time.
Why do I think we need to ask ourselves who we are? Because I think the answer to that question can be a guide to our lives. I often think of the words of William Shakespeare from Hamlet. Polonius is giving advice to his son, Laertes, and at the end of a number of points he says:
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day.
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
I think this is fantastic advice. Be true to who we really are. Test our own actions. Take pride in ourselves not because of how we compare to someone else, but because of what we do - we each carry our own load.
Have a great weekend!
P.S. For anyone reading this, I would appreciate quick prayers for Terry, who I met this week in front of Emory Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta, and Robin, who I met last night on M Street. I know that neither of them will ever read this, and I probably will never see either of them again on this earth, but I believe that our prayers can help both of them to get back on their feet. Thanks.