As I scrolled through instagram last night, I began developing a question about us humans:
Why do we change who we are to impress others?
Every person’s driving desire is love. It is built into the core of who we are: created by love, to love. We exist solely for the sake of love and unity with our Creator. However, I notice within myself and others a yearning to be accepted and satisfied by what we can visibily see—the world.
In Anthony de Mello’s The Way To Love, he contrasts the feelings that come from two different experiences: the experience of being praised, applauded, and accepted by someone versus the experience of looking at nature or reading a book that you thoroughly enjoy. The first instance breeds feelings of self-gratification and self-promotion. These make us feel good, wanted, and popular, among other things. The world encourages us to strive for this feeling. We are fooled into believing that this is as good as it gets; true happiness comes from being loved by the world. Now, the second experience forms an appreciation of nature, something broader than onesself. Looking outwardly at something beautiful, truthful. . .this is a feeling of self-fulfillment. This is a feeling within the soul that satisfies and bears the fruits of peace and appreciation. I strive to live these beautiful moments, these moments in which I come to know myself better in light of God’s creative love.
I notice that between these two experiences, the first one involves people other than the subject. This leads me to understand that one is unable to develop a deep appreciation for other people unless he has first learned to be alone with himself. There is extreme glory that comes with being silent and alone. For me, Christ was found first in the silence, and I believe this is true for many of us.
Sitting still is a lot harder than it sounds. Not just in the physical sense, either. I am an incredibly impulsive and creative person, which explains why I always have an incomplete project or two lying around. I busy myself with social media, activities, running, hiking, and other things, but most of all with relationships. I genuinely enjoy the company of other people, no matter who they are, and I think its safe to say that I love being the center of attention. But often times I find myself basing who I am off of what they think about me. I make plans, hang out with everyone, and use countless relationships as a way for me to develop a sense of self-worth. While doing this, I always end up disappointing my real friends, lacking sufficient time for prayer, and being pretty unsatisfied at the end of the day.
“Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can then be with others without using them as a means of escape.” -Bell Hooks
Christ invites me to be silent with Him. Particularly in the mass, He asks me to veil my heart and reserve my thoughts for Him alone. In these moments, I grow into who I am made to be. When I quiet myself and forget about the world for a while, God gives me beautiful images of flowers blooming in my heart and of my soul dancing. In silence, I can see clearly that what He desires for me is prosperity, and I can feel Him pouring love into my heart. I have learned that the Lord’s voice is audible to a heart that takes the time to be alone with Him.
I’m accepting that I must learn to keep sacred the present moment, for it is the only time that I can encounter God. This is why silence is so important, for our hearts were designed to resemble rough terrain throughout a massive mountain range. There is much to discover—and much that Christ invites us to explore for the sake of knowing Him and His heart better. Yesterday has already passed, and no one is promised tomorrow. Eternity touches time in the here and now, and that’s is all any of us really have.