Recently, I was a part of a circle of men where a man was praying for the group. He was thanking God for making us “better” men, which took me aback somewhat. Surprised by my reaction, I thought to myself “Better? What does that even mean?”
“It’s not about being better,” I asked myself. “It’s not? So then, if it’s not about being better, then what is it all about?”
You see, “better” is subjective. Each person can have a different idea of what “better” means. Here’s a crude example: Let’s say my wife recently asked me to get “better” about not peeing on the toilet seat. Say I agree to her request and a week goes by. Then, my wife comes up to me flustered and says: “I thought you agreed to be better about not peeing on the toilet seat?” Then I might respond, “You’re totally right and I think I followed through on what I agreed to – I had like 10 drops less than last week.”
Technically, that would be true. I got “better.” But, in the end, I don’t think my wife is getting what she truly wants. Better inherently comes with a comparison of at least two different items. To me, being “better” seems works based. It means I’m striving for a different standard, and usually one that someone else defines for me. It is all about “doing.”
Could it serve us better to shift our thinking here? From doing to something else?
You see, I’m learning that our lives are stories. From early on we started telling ourselves who we were largely based on the world telling us who we ought to be. Parents, pastors, professors, peers influence who we are and how we think. So does trauma. And culture. All of these are just a few examples of how we get ideas about who we are, or who we might be. And, from there we start writing our own story. We may even believe and accept those inputs from others.
I was listening to a recent Enneagram Typology podcast the other day where author Ian Cron was saying that so often, the story we are living is not true. Most people end up living out the story that they were handed and made it their own to the point where we can’t even distinguish between what was told to us about who we should be, what we individually tell ourselves and what the truth actually is. You are not your personality. You are not what you do. These are just layers of wounds and stories that block and conceal your true essence.
How then, can one find out what your true story is? Who you are now is who you will always be. You are already complete. Spiritual writer Richard Rohr talks about becoming ourselves. One of the concepts that Rohr talks about in his book “Falling Upward” is the idea that in the first half of life we’ve built up this ego and persona while also developing coping skills to painful experiences and situations that got us to that point. However, what usually starts to happen halfway through life is that what used to work before no longer does. Rohr then goes on to say that the journey for the second half of life is about learning to just be our true selves. And I suspect that we cannot become more of who we are without working through the layers of lies that we’ve accepted about ourselves.
And, like with everything you don’t HAVE to do this. No one is forcing anyone to DO anything. It is an invitation. It is definitely, I think, the harder choice. You’ll need to let go of some things that have served you all your life.
But how can we start to let go? I don’t think anyone can do it alone. If you try to do it alone, you will only get so far. There needs to be a mirror. There is power in having a witness present.
This is just one of the many reasons that a Crucible Weekend is so powerful. It is there where a person can take a look at the story he — or she — has been telling themselves, wrestle with it and receive grace and healing.
What emerges by the end of the weekend is the beautiful truth about themselves – your true gold. So, maybe it is not “better.” It is becoming. And, it is not “doing,” It is being.
By Justin Haas
Justin completed his initial weekend in November of 2008 and is a graduate of the two-year Transformational Leadership Program (although he wishes there was a four-year option). A California native, Justin was uprooted at age 8 and transplanted into a “foreign, midwest” world called Chicago, along with its bitter temperatures and murky — sometimes fluffy — snow. He believes the depth of healing one receives is crucial to the level of honesty one is willing to have with themselves and living in the light with others. Justin is a husband to one lovely wife and a father to three wacky & tender kids. Professionally, he hangs out in the I.T. industry.
Photo Credit: Tyler Byber via Creative Commons