The journey begins

journey stepEveryone needs to be on a journey of self-discovery.  It is a journey that many never start, and they miss out completely on some incredible things.  There is only one you in this world.  There has never been someone like you, and there will never be again.  This is the worlds only opportunity to experience you.  And it will miss out completely if you don’t experience you.

Who are you?  Who are you when no one else is looking?  Once you take away all the trappings of life and scratch away everything that life has taught you to be, who would you be?  Would you be the same as you are?  Without your job, or your family, or your friends who are you?  It is a very good question to ask ourselves.  One day all of those things will disappear.  We will retire, our families will grow up and move away, our friends will come and go, and if our identity is based on those things we will be very miserable indeed.  There are a great many people who pass away a few years after retirement,or their spouse passed away, because their identity is gone.  Who are you?

The best place to start is to begin some honest self-evaluation.  This needs to be honest evaluation. We often lie to ourselves about ourselves.  We justify behaviors and responses, and we explain our choices in life which cause us to be the way we are.

For example:

.  If we want to lose weight, we might claim that we’re eating healthy, but in reality our eating habits haven’t changed very much.

.  If we want to be more creative, we might say that we’re trying to write more, but in reality we aren’t holding    ourselves to a rigid publishing schedule.

.  If we want to learn a new language, we might say that we have been consistent with our practice even though we skipped last night to watch television.

We use lukewarm phrases like, “I’m doing well with the time I have available.” Or, “I’ve been trying really hard recently.” These statements are usually just soft excuses that make us feel better about ourselves or about having a goal that we haven’t made much real progress toward. (I know because I’ve been guilty of saying many of these things myself.)

Why do these little lies matter?

Because they are preventing us from being self-aware. Emotions and feelings are important and they have a place, but when we use feel-good statements to track our progress in life, we end up lying to ourselves about what we’re actually doing.

Being honest with yourself is a very important step.  It is where you begin to see what is good in your life.  Start making a list of what is right with you.  But don’t stop there.  Make a list of what you think is wrong as well.  Then you can begin to sort out what you actually want to, or need to change because a lot of what we do is a result of the life we have been pushed  into by the expectations of those around us.  Only when we begin to see ourselves as we truly are, and then make some steps to move towards who we actually want to be can we begin to truly know ourselves.

But it starts with that first step of beginning to be honest with ourselves.  The journey is definitely worth it.every-journey-begins-with-a-single-step-you-will-never-finish-if-you-dont-start


Knowing me

Most of us go through life detached from the most important person in our lives.  We wander though life never getting in touch with the one who can make the biggest impact on us.  We accept whatever comes our way and miss out on a passionate existence, and usually blame the world around us for what we see is wrong.  We miss out completely with connecting with ourselves.

A friend once asked me “What are you passionate about?”  It was a question I couldn’t answer.  I had never got into the habit of looking within and learning what was going on inside.  Life was full of external stimuli and little inside understanding.  Life was happening to me, instead of me taking life for all it was worth.  And when I talk with people, most times they have the same responses.  They don’t often know what is inside.

know yourselfFor many years I never came to understand who I was.  And missed out on some great understandings of me, and great experiences which I could have seized on if I truly understood me.  So I started a journey of self-discovery.  Because I am worth knowing and if I don’t know myself, I cannot expect anyone else to be willing to either.  Without knowing yourself you cannot value yourself.  And if you don’t value yourself, no one else will either.

The struggle to know oneself is a difficult path, but one that leads to rich rewards.  Your relationships get better, because they are no longer based on circumstances but on who we are.  Conversations can go much deeper because we have evaluated what we think, and why.  We have also evaluated what we feel and why, so then instead of exploding at random events when everything comes to a head, or blowing up at family after a few hard days, we can begin to see things in a different light, and respond appropriately.

The journey begins by taking a look under our hood and determining what is there.  For many people this will be a hard thing to do, because many don’t really like what they see.  But as we do this we begin to see past the grease and the oil, and we see past the damaged areas, and we see things that are actually worthwhile.  There is great value and priceless treasure inside each one of us, and unless we are willing to take a hard honest look inside, and get past the things we don’t like, we will never become who we were meant to be.

Jesus said to “…love your neighbor in the same way you love yourself.” Mark 12:31 (Voice)  When we look around us at the world we live in very few people actually love themselves.  This is evidenced by the way they treat the world around them.  If we don’t love ourselves, we have nothing to offer others, and we treat them the same way we feel would treat us.  You cannot love yourself without knowing yourself.  And others cannot know you either if you don’t know you.  And the world is crying out for relationships that matter.  We are fed up with the empty social world, and are hungry for something deeper.  And it begins by me knowing me.

know yourself quotes

By Chance Moments

chance encounterIt is truly amazing how many people we all interact with every day without thinking about it.  The amount of people we could be impacting is astronomical, depending on the type of job you have, the way you travel to and from work, and the size of the place you live in.    If you life in a large city like New York or Tokyo and you ride the subways you will probably interact with a very large number of people every day.  But if you stay at home, the numbers will be fewer. 
Regardless of the way we live our lives, unless you live on a deserted island, we all intact at some level with a lot of people.  How many of those are you able to influence, or make their lives better somehow?  We all have the opportunities.  The question is do we make use of them?  For the most part we are probably focused completely on what we need to be doing and not at all on the people we meet, unless they get in our way.
Just like the story of the good Samaritan found in Luke 10 we have opportunities to enrich the lives of those we meet.  In the story a man gets severely beaten and robbed, and 4 people meet him on the road.  Two were religious leaders, something like our pastors and priests today.  Men who were supposed to be interested in the welfare of others.  And like us they had a schedule to keep, and were not interested in stopping.  The third man was a lawyer, and the fourth was the Samaritan.  From the story we can all learn to do several things which we can use to open the doors to seeing God do things in our lives and through our lives each and every day.
Like the good Samaritan we need to
1. Pay attention.
We are too often pre-occupied with all that we need to get done and sometimes the unintended result is that we don’t notice the person or the need right in front of us. We go through our day, thinking about what we are doing, how far behind we are, or how difficult our life is right now and we miss out completely on opportunities to impact people.  I am always impressed with how Jesus paid attention and noticed people. And when he was with them, he wasn’t distracted. He was fully present.
So, this week ask God to help you notice people and needs. And, work at paying attention. Look people in the eye. Listen more carefully.  Pay a little more attention to the people around each of us.  You will be amazed at what you may see.
2. Slow down.
If I am going to do a better job of noticing, I must learn to slow down. I can’t always be in a hurry.
 Sometimes this is about my hurried step and sometimes it is about a hurried spirit. It’s just a fact of life that the slower you go the more you can notice.
We all have a schedule that is to full, and life only seems to be getting busier.  But it is a choice we all need to make to be able to push back our time tables and recapture some time in our day so that we aren’t always needing to be pushed to the limits.  A great book on how to do this is “Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives” by

Richard Swenson.  Once we have some margin we can actually breath and see opportunities to reach people
3. Be courageously compassionate.
Slowing down and paying attention is a good start, but it isn’t enough. In the story of the Good Samaritan, the priest noticed the man in need but he didn’t engage his need.  The important thing we need to keep in mind is not whether we noticed the people around us but whether we courageously engage with them with compassion and action.
This is the essence of the Great Commission.  Jesus was instructing His followers to go into their worlds.  And as we go about our daily lives, reach into the lives of those we meet and influence them, and make disciples.  Reach out to the people we meet, and impact them making their lives a little better somehow, and pray for opportunities to share the hope that you have.chance encounters