Thomas Merton once said,
“And if I never become what I am meant to be, but always remain what I am not, I shall spend eternity contradicting myself by being at once something and nothing, a life that wants to live and is dead, and a death that wants to be dead and cannot quite achieve its own death because it still has to exist.”
Following a true spiritual path means that we are in a constant state of becoming… or at least we should be. I’ve met a number of people along the way who were just done. Done learning. Done growing. Done changing. Done. They had it all figured out, including God. Which is really too bad. Why? you may ask. Because there is no way they could become who God created them to be after they stopped.
You see, each day brings us new information, new experiences, and new possibilities. These things must be incorporated into who we are and help shape who we can become, or we live a stagnant existence. Picture a stagnant pond – stinky, overgrown with green slimy stuff, a breeding place for mosquitos, contaminated water, and other yucky things. Not the way I like to picture my soul. To become we need a continuing source of fresh, clean, life-giving water.
Life is a fluid, dynamic process, a constant moving toward who we were created to be. To engage the process of becoming means to practice self-awareness and initiate change. How are we touched and affected by the events of our lives? Why do certain things push our buttons and set us off? Why do we do what we do and say what we say? Are we living a path with heart, or just living? When are we willing to risk and when do we allow fear to control us? When is it time to hang on and when is it time to let go? Are we stuck in a rut or willing to try new things? The list goes on and on.
So then, self-awareness is great, but it means next to nothing if we don’t act on it. There was a point in my life where I was so angry with my father that whenever I saw him I couldn’t even look him in the eye. I was aware of my behavior, and my anger. I knew my soul was hurting and our relationship had issues. It took a while because I don’t like conflict any more than the next person, but eventually I was able to talk through all of it with him, and things got better. At least I could look him in the eye again when I saw him.
We need to engage this flow of self-awareness, action, and becoming or we will remain who we are not, instead of daring to become who we are. We will live in the uncomfortable place of limbo that Merton talks about, where we do not let the parts of us that need to die, die; nor do we let the parts of us that need to live, live.
Peace ~ Kaye