Sometimes the first step to knowing oneself is figuring out who you are not. And while this kind of self-discovery is not the preferred method of introspection, it can nevertheless teach us something that narrows our search somewhat. It is kind of like looking into a pond which throws an image back at you for your consideration. If you have had this experience then you know right away that while the image is you, it is also clear that the image is altogether not you. Instead, it seems rather like you are wearing something, such as a hat that doesn’t belong. Sure you are trying it on, but it is more like playing dress up then anything else.
Discovery of this kind is very close to the experience of seeing yourself in a vocation, or career or wielding natural gifts that obviously do not suit you. The whole of it (even if the water is still and there are no waves) is no more than a good show. And while you or I might fancy that we would be better off praying mid-morning prayers within a cloister, or married with children running about as we trim the hedges, something of an intuition of self stands firm in accusation against our poor acting.
It is this kind of introspection that can get the bride running from the altar, or the young man leaving the seminary after several years of formation. In those most dramatic cases (or so they seem to us) it took the final fitting of clothes that obviously don’t fit, for them to see the silliness of a vocation that was not meant for them.
The spiritual life is about you growing in the direction of God, but if you don’t know who you are then that can be a terribly difficult thing to do. So if this struggle seems strangely familiar to you, then look around and discover what you are not. God has given you plenty of examples. And once discovered, you can finally work on becoming what you were always intended to be.
Check out Patrick and his ministry – evango – at https://evango.net/
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