Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

(Cartoon from Toothpaste for Dinner)

On the way home from a diocesan retreat/conference, driving through the hills and hollows on the way to a bit of my own personal retreat, I kept thinking of a prayer my Bishop said it took him years to learn. It's a very simple prayer--"God, let me present myself for who I am."

That, of course leads to a very simple question with a very hard answer--"Well, just who the he'll AM I, anyway?"

I recognized this has mostly to do with Self (with a big "S" as in our true and holy Selves, the Self that God sees when he looks at us,) as opposed to self (with a little "s" as in our selves as we think we are projecting to others, the self that truthfully, is mostly a facade of our own making.)

Then I got to thinking how many of us go through what I call the Ayn Rand phase of life. There is a point in many folks' lives, when we are just coming out from under the control of adults, usually late high school or college age, where we read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged, and suddenly we get the notion that we can exist in a world that is totally independent of others, that what things are, are how we choose to define them, and that the ideal life situation is one where we only answer to ourselves.

Weeeeeelllll...that is kind of exhilarating and fun for a little while, but most of us get over that one somewhere by age 30. We realize we neglected the little fact that humans do tend to like to feel needed, loved, and appreciated. Even someone alone on the proverbial desert island depends on the rest of the world not to destroy it, and needs other people only if it is to have the thrill of chasing them away.

I remember that phase ended for me when I realized Ayn Rand needed other people to pay attention to what she had to say, and to buy her books so she would have an income. Sure, she tried to pawn it all off as free trade, but the fact of the matter was she liked the adoration and the controversy of her radical views.

These days we see this championing of self with folks like the Freepers and the Tea Partiers. One might wonder if some of our more literalist Christian brothers and sisters aren't engaging in a little Ayn Rand-ian behavior when they interpret certain parts of the Bible in literalist ways, such as when they don't subject the eating of shellfish with the same set of Biblical interpretive eyes as homosexual behavior. It is very easy to simply line up all the things we personally think are icky and morph any of our personal icky feelings in to us not saying they are icky, but ascribing them to a higher authority. But if we don't bother to look behind things, we don't use them to really explore the soft underbelly of our personal morality.

Take something as simple as my 29 year love affair with shiny red Ford F-150 pickup trucks. Over the years, that vehicle choice has defined "me" to myself and others. My friends would think I was ill if I did not own one. I would have a hard time with my ego for a while if my regular ride was a subcompact car. But ultimately, would all that mental gyration affect who my true and holy Self is? Nah. God would see me as the same person.

But in that simple prayer--"God, let me present myself for who I am"--is quite a whallop in terms of what I am asking God to do. I am asking to be exposed. I am asking others to see me stripped of my shiny red truck, my bravado, my fearful hedginess, my bluster, my fear, and all the trappings my ego adorns the projected "me.". Oh, God, make me brave enough to even ask such a thing.



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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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